It was sad to see the news earlier this week of the passing of Jimmy Savile, two days short of his 85th birthday, a truly authentic if slightly eccentric personal brand.
Many years ago my aunt experienced a stroke and was in Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK, world renowned for it's work in spinal injuries, but also a hospital supported and visited on a regular basis by Jimmy Savile. We happened to be visiting one weekend when he was 'doing his rounds' as a volunteer porter and experienced first hand his overwhelming generosity, humour and uniqueness.
Apart from his core attributes, he had many ways that he exuded his brand that were signature to him and made him perhaps one of the early authentic celebrity brands.
- Known for wearing shell suits and clothes with the very loud colours and patterns – an early CHAV.
- The "King of Bling' wearing very flashy jewellery and adornments – long before it was hip for rappers.
- Recalled often for his memorable phrase that was mimicked by every comedian – "Howz about that then?" – an early celebrity tagline.
- Also known for a yodel that made an almost monkey sound at the end of many introductions on the popular Top of the Pops, TV show accompanied with other catchphrases – "Now then, now then, now then", "Goodness gracious", "as it happens" (pronounced "as it 'appens") and "Guys and gals".
- A keen and regular marathon runner, raising thousands of pounds for charities – long before it was socially expected to be seen being charitable.
- Always seen to be chomping on a big fat 'cohiba' stlye cigar – long before the stoggie was a must to be seen with.
- His life was lived on his terms and although he was certainly a character and showman it never seemed to be contrived or inauthentic – a sadly rapidly disappearing trait in todays 'celebrity circles' and those that want to be in them.
And like any star struck young kids, we also got him to sign his autograph, which again was unique with a happy face in the circle round of his 'J', the 'S' was a dollar sign and the 'L' he made in to the pound sign.
Thanks Jimmy – RIP.