Sir Leslie Ronald "Jimmy" Young CBE (born 21 September 1921) is a British singer, disc jockey and radio interviewer.
The son of a baker, he was born Leslie Ronald Young, in Cinderford, Gloucestershire and attended East Dean Grammar School. He joined the RAF in 1942 (lying about his age) spending seven years as a physical training instructor based in India and left in 1949 with the rank of Sergeant. Later, he became a clerk at the Ministry of Education, and managed a hairdressing salon. He first entered showbusiness in 1949, when radio listeners heard him performing songs at the piano.
Jimmy Young was signed to the then new label Polygon Records in 1950, one of the label's only stars alongside another newcomer Petula Clark. He released numerous records on the label, all conducted by Ron Goodwin, the biggest of which was "Too Young" (1951) a big sheet music seller in the days before the UK singles chart had begun. It was a cover of Nat 'King' Cole's American recording. There were also two duets with Miss Clark that year, "Mariandl" and "Broken Heart".
In 1952 he was lured away to a contract with record giant Decca, and the big hits really began. Young enjoyed Top 10 successes with "Eternally", "Chain Gang" and "More" (with which he beat Perry Como's U.S. original). His most successful year as a recording artist was 1955, when "Unchained Melody" (from the film Unchained) and "The Man From Laramie" (from the film of the same name) were successive releases and both number one hits.
He is best known nowadays as a former BBC radio presenter. His first jobs were as the host of Housewives Choice on the BBC's Light Programme - the forerunner of BBC Radio 2 - and also working for Radio Luxembourg. He was also one of the first disc jockeys on BBC Radio 1, presenting the weekday mid-morning show from 1967 to 1973.
In 1973 he joined BBC Radio 2, where he presented a regular programme (known to listeners as "the JY Prog"), until his retirement from broadcasting in 2002. The first interview on the new programme was with Erin Pizzey from Chiswick Women's Aid, a refuge for battered wives. As well as interviewing every British prime minister since 1964, he interviewed other big names of their day, such as Neil Kinnock, David Owen, David Steel and Michael Foot. Royal guests included the Princess Royal, Prince Philip and Princess Grace Of Monaco.
His show travelled the world too, coming live from the former Soviet Union, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, 1970s Rhodesia, and Egypt where he interviewed then-president Anwar Sadat.
Although he was offered the opportunity to present a weekend current affairs programme, he turned it down. His radio slot was taken over by the former Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Vine. Shortly after leaving the BBC, Jimmy Young wrote a newspaper column attacking his former employer for instances of "brutality", and making clear that it had not been his idea to leave.
Young returned to BBC Radio 2 in 2011 with a special one-hour programme in celebration of his 90th birthday. Sir Jimmy Young At 90, broadcast on 20 September 2011, heard him in conversation with his friend and former sparring partner Ken Bruce, looking back over his career. In March 2012, Young returned to presenting on BBC Radio 2 after over nine years when he joined Desmond Carrington on a weekly show entitled 'Icons of the 50s'. Young has been rewarded with several honours over the years: an OBE in 1979; a CBE in 1993; and, at the beginning of 2002, he was knighted for services to broadcasting. Young continues to write a weekly column for the Sunday Express newspaper. (info edited from Wikipedia & BBC)