Radio legend Uncle Ray Cordeiro celebrates 88th birthday

DJ who has broken records, as well as spinning them, celebrates milestone birthday with friends

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 3:50am

The world's longest-serving DJ has turned 88 expressing a wish to stay on air for "another 88".

"Uncle" Ray Cordeiro made the wish as the legendary RTHK host and about 100 guests celebrated his birthday.

"It seems I have already reached the highest peak. Age 88 is something beyond my expectations, and it happens on the 'three 12s', which makes me extremely happy," he said, referring to the date, December 12, 2012.

Minimum requirement for attending the six-hour celebration was 30 years' acquaintance with Cordeiro.

"Every day I walk into the studio and break my own record," said the host of All the Way With Ray, the late-night show that goes on air live for three hours every weekday. "I never see it as a job, but a devotion. Without music, I am nothing."

And for his birthday wish, he quoted the greeting on a card from rock legend Elton John, who wrote: "Another 88".

Born in a flat in Wan Chai Road, Cordeiro started his career in 1949 with the now-defunct broadcaster Rediffusion, joining Radio Hong Kong, as it was then, in 1960. In 2000, Guinness World Records named him "World's Most Durable Radio DJ".

Without Uncle Ray, his younger acquaintances said, Hong Kong's musical scene would have been different.

"He is truly an uncle to all of us," said veteran musician Anders Nelsson, who coined the title "Uncle" for Cordeiro.

Recalling the 1960s when playing in a band was considered bad by most parents, he said Ray was a refuge for budding musicians, especially the Chinese baby-boomers.

"Many young Chinese hid their instruments in my house and came to practise there because their parents would have been horrified by their children playing in a band," he said.

Anthony Chan Yau, drummer of The Wynners, recalled Ray's radio programme as the main source of pop music that inspired him and his colleagues.

"Without free TV channels, radio was all we listened to in those days, and Uncle Ray was the music search engine. Whatever he put on air, we took it as the best, and played it," he said.

Veteran rock star Teddy Robin said he owed his first album to Uncle Ray who "set up contacts and provided platform for me and my band to perform to the public such as at the popular show Lucky Dip at the City Hall. He is forever my hero."

Dr Charles Ho, a fan of Ray as a student and now his cardiologist, called him a precious asset he was privileged to look after.

"He is the spirit of Hong Kong in terms of dedication and diligence, and I am one of many in the collective to uphold it for years to come."