Tony said he wants more young people to hear The Beatles’ classic tracks but the owners of the Fab Four’s music are “very protective” over them and heavily restrict where they are played.
Now he has told the Sunday Express he would love to get permission to play the legendary group’s tracks and their stage performances on new TV channel That’s 60s, dedicated to music and live gigs of the era.
Adding that the “ball is in their court”, Tony, who turns 80 on January 29, said: “The Beatles are very protective of their music. I think it’s a shame because there’s a whole younger audience who actually don’t know The Beatles as well – it’s funny to say but it was such a long time ago.
“We do have artists singing Beatles songs on the show but to have them… Sir Paul McCartney can give that to me as an 80th birthday present.”
It took a decade of wrangling before The Beatles, their heirs and record company EMI finally came together to agree to appear on Apple’s iTunes in 2010.
Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison – the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison – were understood to have had concerns it would be easy to copy songs if they were released digitally. The tracks were already widely and illegally being shared over the internet.
A spokesman for McCartney Productions Limited, which deals with Sir Paul’s business interests, said Sony Music controls the rights to all Beatles songs, while Universal Music has the master recordings. Sony has been contacted for comment.
In 1967, Tony made history as Radio 1’s first presenter and became known for describing hit songs as “sensational”.
Now he will become That’s 60s first presenter too. He also hosts shows on Radio 2, BBC Local Radio and British Forces Broadcasting Service.
But, he said, he has no plans to retire.
“I don’t feel 80,” said Tony, a father and grandfather of two.
“I don’t feel my age. In fact my daughter the other day said ‘it’s funny, Dad, you’re not quite as grown up as I am’. She’s 26. I just like working and I always think a lot of people who retire early just go to seed – you’ve got to use your mind.”
He added: “A lot of it is, of course, your health, obviously, but if your health is good – and everything is fine from my point of view. I’ve no intention of retiring. I love it too much.”
Tony admits his long-retired peers from the swinging 60s think “he’s a bit weird” for still getting up in the early hours to commute from his home in Arkley, North London, to BBC Broadcasting House.
● That’s 60s is on Freeview 75, Sky 366 and Freesat 506.