“He’s not what you think you know”
Savile on Savile
James Wilson Vincent Savile was born in Leeds on 31 October 1926, the youngest of seven children into a Roman Catholic family. This ‘Spartan emotional regimen’ prefigured his lifelong inability to form intimate relationships with anyone:
Later in life, Savile would rarely mention his father. But his mother was first, last and always, ‘The Duchess’.
Savile left school at 14. When the Second World War started he hoped to join the RAF. Instead he was conscripted to work in the coal mines. But the ‘pit-boy’ was badly injured in an explosion and was told he’d never walk again. But the injury forced a fortuitous career change.
BRITAIN’S FIRST DISCO DJ?
In 1948, he became an entertainer.
Savile started running several nightclubs in the North of England. He later claimed to have organised Britain’s first disco and also to have been the first DJ with two turntables – which meant there were no breaks between records. Both claims are disputed.
But such relentless self promotion was all part of his new persona. And he also projected an image of someone who shouldn’t be crossed. Dennis Lemmon - Savile’s unofficial minder when he worked at the Locarno nightclub in Leeds in the late 1950s - remembered the impact that Savile quickly had:
“When Jimmy Savile first came to Leeds no one knew him. And after a month everybody in Leeds knew him or had heard of him because of the outlandish things that he used to do. The way he dressed, the way he did his hair for instance...just to get himself noticed...He tried to give himself this reputation as a tough guy and a wrestler (but) I think he was as soft as anything.”
Dennis Lemmon, Former nightclub employee