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Delia Derbyshire 80th celebrations

Delia Derbyshire will always be remembered as the Electronic Music pioneer who gave us the iconic 'Doctor Who' theme tune. But her genius was more than just one piece of music and working for the BBC Radiophonic workshop. A street is to be named after her in the Stoke Heath area and the Coventry Society are putting up a 'Blue Plaque' on her old Coventry home in Cedars Avenue. A special concert in the Cathedral ruins and talks and events at the Coventry Music Museum are all part of the 80th celebrations of her birthday.

Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire was born in Coventry on 5th May 1937. She was born and lived at 124 Cedars Avenue with her father Edward a sheet metal worker in a local car factory and her mum Mary Amelia, nee Dawson. In 1939 they moved up the road to 104 Cedars Avenue. Delia would have been in Coventry when the Blitz happened and they say she used the sounds of the air raid sirens, the drone of the German bomber aircraft engines and the swishing sounds as the 'incendiary bombs' dropped, as her inspiration in the making of the iconic music in the 'Doctor Who' theme tune.

Delia Derbyshire

She was educated at Barrs Hill Girls School, Coventry. At the age of 19 she went to Girton College, Cambridge, where she was awarded a degree in mathematics and music.

Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire was of course most famous for producing the electronic 'realisation' of Ron Grainer's theme tune for 'Doctor Who' but she worked with many musicians including Paul McCartney and George Harrison in 1966 and on the sound-track for the Yoko Ono film in 1967. She also influenced many musicians and bands including Karlheinz Stockhausen, George Martin, Pink Floyd and the Chemical Brothers.

Delia Derbyshire has a special section devoted to her in the Coventry Music Museum, Ball Hill. The museum is well worth a visit, it is situated in the Two tone Village, 74-80 Walsgrave Road, Coventry.

Delia Derbyshire memorabelia

Coventry music museum

Delia died in July 2001 aged 64. After her death, 267 reel-to-reel tapes and a box of a thousand papers were found in her attic. These were entrusted to Mark Ayres of the BBC and in 2007 were given on permanent loan to the University of Manchester. Almost all the tapes were digitized in 2007 by Louis Niebur and David Butler, but none of this music has been published because of copyright complications. In 2010, the University acquired Delia's childhood collection of papers and artefacts including her 'child's gas mask' from Andi Wolf who lives in her old home in Coventry. This collection is accessible at the John Rylands Library in Manchester.

Delia Derbyshire poster

As part of the celebrations for what would have been her 80th Birthday, there are a number of events including a music concert in the Coventry Cathedral Ruins on Friday 5th May from 7 pm. until 11.30 pm. Tickets are available from the 'Tin' on £15 advance / £12 concession. The evening will be featuring Pete Kember (Sonic Boom), Dr. Peter Zinovieff, Hannah Peel, Jerry Dammers (from the Specials) playing a DJ set of Ambient and electronic 'Library Music' some from Delia Derbyshire. The event is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Programme for Delia birthday party

Details of celebrations for Delia Derbyshire's 80th Birthday celebration.

The Coventry Society will shortly be erecting a blue plaque to celebrate Delia Derbyshire. More information to follow. 

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