Thanks Annie, you were a star

ALAN FRAME remembers his old pal Annie Nightingale who has died aged 83

Just 12 days into a new year and another old friend leaves us. Annie Nightingale, 83 going on 21, was writing a pop column for the Express when I became features editor in 1981, a similar role she had when we both worked on the much lamented Sketch a decade before.


Those were the days (as her friend Mary Hopkin wrote) when the Express had Annie, Judy Simons and David Wigg, three uniquely well connected writers with the best contacts books in Fleet Street. And in the case of Annie, so close to one particular Beatle he even proposed to her. 


She lived in Brighton, where she had begun her career in journalism on the Evening Argus, and we had a weekend bolthole there. So drinks and the occasional dinner became riotous affairs with her former husband Binky Baker leading the way. It was during one of those that she explained the marriage proposal from Paul McCartney.


‘I didn’t think he was particularly serious so I said nothing. Just as well really because we stayed best friends.’ In fact she was one of the few journalists, Judith Simons was another, with whom the band would confide. And that goes back to when Annie first interviewed them while on the Argus and failed to ask the usual daft pap questions.  


She was close to others in the great panoply  of British rock stars, the Stones, The Who and The Kinks and I can verify that she was more than capable of holding her own in their (often rather bad) company.


I will remember her as a fine journalist, a ground-breaking music pioneer and a fun friend. But most of all Annie was kind. In the late 80s she knew that my teenage daughters Anna and Helen were going through their Paul Young fan phase, indeed they have never grown out of it. Unknown to me she had organised tickets to his sold-out Brighton concert and not just that. After the show they were escorted to the bar of the old Albion hotel on the seafront where they were greeted by their idol and given a thoroughly appreciated time. 


Thanks Annie, you were a star.