It has been another tremendous year for the Oxford music scene, with exciting breakthrough bands and returning heroes, memorable shows and one of the hottest summer festival scenes on record. And we have been lucky enough to chat to some absolute legends – and hear their thoughts.

Here are some of our favourite pearls of wisdom:

  • Still whispering

“It was such a dream to do it. The look of the show was the same as when we started out – and there was so much love in the room.

“It made a huge impact. It saw one of BBC4’s biggest audiences ever, with well over a million people watching it, and it showed how much love there is for the programme. It was quite moving.”

‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, who lives in Steventon, on returning to TV screens in February for a remake of his cult music show The Old Grey Whistle Test to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

  • Dunkirk spirit

“I was given my great-uncle George’s old banjolele a few years ago. It had his name on the case and was in a right old state, but I got it playing.

“I was the same age he was when he died, and it struck me how lucky my generation was not to have had to live through something as enormous as the Second World War, as he had. I wanted to write a song, but didn’t want to glamorise it. The result is a sombre but fitting dedication to his memory.”

J Willgoose Esq of the band Public Service Broadcasting on recording Waltz for George with an instrument belonging to his great-uncle who served and died at Dunkirk when just 26 years-old. The band played the New Theatre in April.

  • Dr Feelgood

“The whole year was full of really great experiences and so many fantastic things happened.

“It was emotional, just how great rock & roll should be. It’s got nothing to do with the past or future but is in the moment. And if you think you’re going to die, you feel in the moment – and that’s great for rock & roll.”

Wilko Johnson on playing a farewell tour after his diagnosis of inoperable terminal cancer. He was saved when surgeon and fan Charlie Chan saw him play at Cornbury Festival and thought he could be cured. He now has the all-clear. He played the O2 Academy Oxford in May.

  • Many rivers to cross

“The warrior in me is still spiritual. I went through all of the organised religions searching to find one that fits me, but I didn’t fit into any.

“We live in an age of technology and everybody can learn so much on the YouTube or whatever. But don’t let it swallow you up; use it but don’t let it use you. It can swallow you up like a whale!”

Jimmy Cliff, reggae legend, on his search for spiritual enlightenment. He played Cornbury Festival in July.

Oxford Mail:

  • Keep it chilled

“The Oxford crowd like to chill out by day and get a bit fruitier at night. In Southampton they party hard all day, but in Oxford you are more laid back, so we are providing more areas to chill out.

“We are not doing this for the money. We have always said to the people of Oxford that it’s a festival for you, come and support us. If they don’t, we won’t be back. We are just here to bring some fun!”

Rob da Bank, founder of Common People Oxford on what makes the city tick – and why we should embrace his May Bank Holiday festival. It remains to be seen whether it will return.

  • Purple pain

“I miss so many things about him, especially how happy he was on stage with us and enjoying the creative process in the studio. That’s something you can’t beat. Oh man! That drive and focus, the harmonies, the rhythm structure... he was a genius and the stuff poured out of him.

“He would just lay it down and it was so beautiful. And there were sounds no one had heard before. I hope he’s with the Lord now though, and not here. It’s too crazy down here!”

Sonny T of Prince’s The New Power Generation on losing the charismatic frontman. The New Power Generation played Common People in May.

  • Super Gaz

“Oxfordshire is there in the themes and lyrics, in the artists I work with. There’s a lot of creativity in this area, but it’s also the birds in the garden and the environment I’m in.

“Life is pretty manic and I travel around and see a lot of places and some really interesting cities, but in Oxford I have space to process those experiences. Oxford is home and comfortable and gets the best out of me and my writing.”

Gaz Coombes on living in Oxfordshire and recording his acclaimed latest album World’s Strongest Man at home in Wheatley. He played Oxford’s Truck Store in May and Truck Festival in July.

Oxford Mail:

  • Comeback kid

“As last year was supposed to be our last festival, we got rid of all the furniture and gave away or burned everything. Even most of the team are new. But bringing it back was the right thing to do. Last year was one of the first times I didn’t lose shed loads of money – but I also realised I was going to lose touch with hundreds of people I see regularly here and love hanging out with. So I’ll keep going for as long as I’m still standing!”

Hugh Phillimore, director of Cornbury Music Festival on bringing back the July event a year after its ‘final’ instalment.

  • No sway

“We were lucky in playing the right music at the right time. The early period of chill out is a big part of my life, but playing At the River at 2.30am in the middle of a house set wouldn’t really work. We don’t just want people swaying around.

“It’s still a really formative part of who we are but I never listen to it at home. When it was used on the adverts I didn’t recognise it as a piece of music I wrote. I tried to cut myself off from it and didn’t watch telly for months. Fortunately it’s not being used any more!”

Tom Findlay of Groove Armada on the mixed blessings of having a hit chill out tune. They played Wilderness in August

Oxford Mail:

  • Funny peculiar

“Oxford’s a funny place; you know that... you live here.”

John Power of Cast addresses the O2 Academy Oxford in November.