Tributes pour in as Hey Hey It's Saturday star John Blackman dies at the age of 76 after harrowing battle with cancer SuperNayr

Tributes are pouring in for John Blackman after he died at the age of 76 following a harrowing battle with cancer and surgery to remove his jaw.

The Australian radio star passed away after a heart attack on Tuesday, according to The Morning Show’s celebrity reporter Peter Ford.

Following the sad news of his passing, Hey Hey It’s Saturday star Marty Fields remembered John as a ‘master announcer and incredible radio pioneer’.

‘So sad at the passing of my old mate John Blackman. He was a master voice over announcer, live act and incredible radio pioneer,’ he wrote on X.

‘His work at 3AW breakfast and of course as the wonderful booth announcer on Hey Hey. Love to Cecile and his family. A massive loss. Vale buddy.’

Tributes are pouring in for Hey Hey It's Saturday star John Blackman after he died at the age of 76 following a harrowing battle with cancer and surgery to remove his jaw

Tributes are pouring in for Hey Hey It’s Saturday star John Blackman after he died at the age of 76 following a harrowing battle with cancer and surgery to remove his jaw

Former Senator of Australia Derryn Hinch added: ‘Shocked and saddened by death of John Blackman. He handled his illnesses so bravely. We had some huge rows but he was the fastest ad lib man ever. Vale.’

Nine’s entertainment editor Richard Wilkins also shared his condolences.

‘I had the pleasure of working on Hey Hey, many times over the years, and John was an integral part of the family,’ he said.

Australian saxophonist Wilbur Wilde also said on Channel Nine’s Today Show, that ‘without John there was no Hey Hey.’

‘He was a marvellous husband, a wonderful son, a terrific son-in-law and was loved by all Australian audiences,’ he added.

3AW broadcaster Neil Mitchell remembered John as a ‘top class broadcaster’. 

‘(It’s) very sad to hear of the death of John Blackman. He was a constant through my radio career,’ he said.

In a statement, Channel Nine and 3AW also wrote: ‘Throughout his illustrious career, John demonstrated an unwavering commitment to his craft.’

‘His remarkable versatility and enduring presence in the industry underscored his exceptional talent.

‘Colleagues and fans alike admired his professionalism and the genuine kindness he exuded both on and off the microphone.

‘John Blackman’s legacy is one of laughter, dedication, and a profound impact on Australian media.

‘As we remember his remarkable journey, we celebrate the indelible mark he left on our hearts and the entertainment landscape.

‘He will be deeply missed, but his voice will continue to echo in our memories. ‘

The Australian radio star passed away after a heart attack on Tuesday, according to The Morning Show's celebrity reporter Peter Ford

The Australian radio star passed away after a heart attack on Tuesday, according to The Morning Show’s celebrity reporter Peter Ford

Meanwhile, Peter paid tribute to the ‘incredible’ radio legend on the Channel Seven breakfast show and told how John had passed away at his home after going for a rest.

‘John had got home and was having a rest in the afternoon yesterday. He came out to the kitchen and said to Cecile “I’m not feeling so great. I’ll just had a sit down on the couch”,’ Peter shared.

The reporter added that John had recently been told he had to go in for more surgery after his cancer had returned following his life-saving 2018 operation.

‘He told me last week that this Monday, he was to go in for more surgery because something had returned and he wasn’t thrilled about that,’ he went on.

‘But I was told it wasn’t the cancer that had taken him. His wife Cecil called this morning to share the news.’

He went on to praise John for keeping his sense of humour throughout his difficult cancer battle and paid tribute to the ‘beautiful performer’. 

‘Australia is a sadder place with this news breaking now. John was an incredible man, he was a beautiful performer on radio and television. In recent years he has put up this incredible cancer fight,’ he emotionally said.

‘His cancer battle that saw them take away a major part of his jaw. He still got out and about and he would find a way to laugh at things.

‘If anyone was disarmed when they saw his appearance, he would make them comfortable straight away. He had the ability to relax you and let you have a laugh.’ 

Following the sad news of his passing, Hey Hey It's Saturday star Marty Fields praised John as a 'master announcer and incredible radio pioneer'

Following the sad news of his passing, Hey Hey It’s Saturday star Marty Fields praised John as a ‘master announcer and incredible radio pioneer’

The legendary broadcaster had a hugely successful radio career spanning more than 50 years but was best known for his character voices on the long-running variety TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

John’s death comes just months after he opened up about his gruelling cancer battle, which saw him undergo a 12-hour operation in 2018 to remove his jaw.

In 2022, John faced a second battle when he was diagnosed with brain cancer, which was removed with a six-hour operation that left a titanium mesh plate in his head.

Not long before his passing, John was thought to have been told he had to return to hospital for more surgery this year after his cancer had devastatingly come back.

He is believed to have died from a heart attack and is survived by his wife Cecile, who he married in December 1972, and his daughter Tiffany, 28.

John's death comes just months after he opened up about his gruelling cancer battle, which saw him undergo a 12-hour operation in 2018 to remove his jaw

John’s death comes just months after he opened up about his gruelling cancer battle, which saw him undergo a 12-hour operation in 2018 to remove his jaw

Earlier this year, John bravely opened up about his cancer battle and surgery, which saw him have his jaw removed.

The presenter was first diagnosed with a severe case of skin cancer known as a basal cell carcinoma in August 2018.

The ‘really aggressive’ cancer was discovered on a routine trip to his doctor to see about an inflamed pimple.

Later that same year, John had a massive 12-hour operation to remove the cancerous growth on his mouth, and his jaw was substituted with a portion of his thigh bone.

In January 2024, he told how his life changed after the operation, which removed the cancerous tumour but meant he couldn’t work in front of a microphone again.

‘When I went to my surgeon to get the results of the test he said, “Look, John, your life is going to change completely from now on”,’ he told the Herald Sun. 

Not long before his passing, John was thought to have been told he had to return to hospital for more surgery this year after his cancer had devastatingly come back

Not long before his passing, John was thought to have been told he had to return to hospital for more surgery this year after his cancer had devastatingly come back

‘Professionally, financially, emotionally, it is never going to be the same again. You will never work in front of a mic again.’

He bravely told how the gruelling operation couldn’t rob him of his well-known sense of humour despite changing his career.

‘Everything the surgeon said has come true. Even now talking to you, it is painful. I can’t do what I love,’ John went on.

‘Thankfully, I still have my sense of humour, they did not remove that.’

Just years later in 2022, John faced a second battle when he was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to undergo another life-saving operation.

On Hey Hey It's Saturday, John (left) voiced legendary characters including Angel, Mrs Macgillicuddy, Alfred Desk Mike and Charlie Who as he won over legions of fans

On Hey Hey It’s Saturday, John (left) voiced legendary characters including Angel, Mrs Macgillicuddy, Alfred Desk Mike and Charlie Who as he won over legions of fans

Another growth had sprouted ‘in a crater’ a result of one of the removal procedures, and started to move towards his brain.

John admitted the cancer could have ‘killed’ him and he had a six-hour surgery to remove the ‘aggressive’ tumour and was left with a titanium mesh plate in his head.

‘That was the one that could have actually killed me, because it was a very aggressive cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) that was growing right on the top of my noggin,’ he said.

JOHN BLACKMAN’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 

1969: Launches his career in radio working on 2GN Goulburn

1971: Joins 3AW in Melbourne as an evening announcer on Nightline

1971: Starts voiceover work on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday, where he would work for almost 30 years as an announcer and doing character voices

1974: Hosts the morning show at 3AK

1975: Joins National Nine News as an announcer and daytime newsreader

1979: Joins 3AK Melbourne to host the breakfast show

1981: Joins 3AW to host the breakfast show with Bruce Mansfield in what was considered to be one of Australia’s most successful radio pairings

1997: After a hiatus from radio, he returns to 3AK Melbourne as a breakfast show host with Anna Pinkus and Denis Donoghue 

2004: Joins Triple M Adelaide 

April 2015: Returns to radio on MAGIC 1278 and MAGIC 882 

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