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Rick's still swingin' in Florida
Major Career Moves in 1966!
Pirate BBC Essex, Harwich, Easter 2009 – the ship is coming in
This time, instead of being anchored in the harbour, the ship was tied up alongside the Ha'penny Pier. This meant everyone on the pier could see what was happening aboard the ship and many of the DJs took the opportunity to come down the gangplank and chat to the audience.
(Left) LV18 ready for action, on Wednesday, April 8th. Many thanks to Tony O'Neil of the Pharos Trust for the exclusive photo.
Participants from the real world of Watery Wireless were LV18 old hands Mike Ahern, Paul Burnett, Dave Cash, Ray Clark, Roger Day, Tom Edwards, Steve England, Dave Owen, Keith Skues, Rosko, Norm St John, Alan Turner and Johnnie Walker, but there was a new 'cabin boy' – Tony Blackburn, who brought a special friend to Harwich. Many years ago, Tony had parted company with his famous dog Arnold, but Tim Gillett managed to track him down and issued a special press release about their emotional reunion. With the aid of a calculation table that assists in the conversion of human years into canine years, we have calculated that Arnold is an amazing 248 years old. This has to be one for the record books – and the hound looked remarkably good for his age!
Also one for the record books was the nationwide broadcast of 'Pirate Johnnie Walker' from the LV18 on BBC Radio 2, Saturday April 11th. (See story lower down this page.) Although previous broadcasts from the ship have been networked with BBC local stations, this marks the first time the pirate version of BBC Essex has 'gone national'. Johnnie and his production team had been searching for a copy of his original 'Pop the Question' quiz book, as the quiz has been revived for his Sunday afternoon 'Sound of the Seventies' programme. Fortunately, Eddie O'Konnor, who was involved in the book's publication was in Harwich and had a spare copy available. Eddie also admitted responsibility for the Tony Blackburn Joke Book and brought some copies with him for Bessie to autograph for charity. Hear Eddie talking to Tim Gillett about the books, his amazing meeting with Wolfman Jack (see photo here) and even some of those 'hilarious' Blackburn jokes!
Right: Bessie and Eddie, publicising the book. We're guessing it wasn't the 'blockbusting thriller' being promoted on the poster behind them. (Photo by kind permission of Eddie)
Norm St John enjoyed himself so much during the 2007 broadcast that he travelled all the way from Brisbane to present two shows on Pirate BBC Essex 09, before rushing off to Italy immediately after his second show! He told us about participating in a 60-minute documentary that has been made for Australian TV to coincide with the release there of 'The Boat That Rocked'. Norm also got to attend the film premiere with other Australian former pirates. (See story below)
Relive the weekend with the aid of our photo gallery.
Pirate JW 'arrested' at end of series
Despite the navy's best efforts, JW survived and is still on Radio 2's weekend airwaves, with 'Johnnie Walker's Sounds Of The 70s' on Sunday afternoons, 1500 to 1700, complete with the original 'Pop the Question' Quiz, which was part of his Radio One programme in the early Seventies.
'The Boat That Rocked' Sydney premiere
Graham Webb has very kindly shared his photos of the film's Australian premiere, where he, Bryan Vaughan, John Kerr and Norm St John were red carpet guests.
(left) Nick Frost and Bill Nighy, © Graham Webb
Graham's photo-gallery is here.
Documentary on the 'Aussie Invasion' boys
The special was hosted by the country's top rock historian, Glenn A. Baker, known as ‘the rock brain of the universe'.
No recession for Record Collectors
Alan Hardy reports:
More about the 'Single Sale of the Century' by former owner Kev Roberts here and Popjunkietv here.
One of the only two original promo copies left of Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You’ was put on auction and was sold yesterday for……..£25,742!
That’s a lot of money for a single! The previous owner, a northern soul DJ called Kenny Burrell, had paid £15,000 in 1997. A good investment!
I recognise the fanaticism that this record has caused, but £25,000 plus?! ……especially when the song itself is easily available on CD. The auction took place on website raresoulman.com. There’s the interesting full story about the record in the current issue of Record Collector.
Phew - and they say there’s a recession.
Caroline's 45th Birthday
A full photo-gallery is now on the site.
"Hey! Is that ME on your teeshirt?"
'The Boat That Rocked'
Meanwhile, Peter Young has some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for follow-up movies: 'Carry On Boat That Rocked' – starring Charles Hawtrey as Earl Richmond! Not to mention 'Boat That Rocked Meets Emanuelle' and 'Boat That Rocked vs Rocky 1V'.
Watch out for the 'nude shower scene' with Nick Frost, which was filmed aboard the LV18. What we want to know is, where was Daphne? It's most unlike her to miss out on an encouter with a naked man! Read Mary's review here. And here's a link to a very enthusiastic review.
Links: LV18 site; Working Title Films site www.workingtitlefilms.com; Swinging Radio England – A Tale of Pirates, Texans and Teenagers; Pirate BBC Essex
Tom's 'Stormy Life' heralds the start of pirate mania in the media (updated 08/04 ). If only they could get their facts (and pictures) right!
Can't ANYBODY get a story right? (updated 08/04)
(updated 08/04) Media Coverage – a round-up of current film and offshore radio-related storie and film reviews
(08/04) Beanos of Croydon
"Last year I got a call from Shepperton Film Studios. They didn't want a record, they wanted eight thousand. They wanted to simulate a studio and record library on the Radio Rock Pirate radio ship.
(08/04) Alan Hardy writes: "You might have seen this article about last weekend’s box office takings for The Boat That Rocked and an analysis of the poor response. Also, the ‘soundtrack’ CD entered the industry/Music Week compilation chart at number 6 (as a compilation, it’s not eligible for the main ‘artist’ Top 50 albums).
(08/04) Mike Terry writes of Mark Kermode's review: "Kermode said, 'I laughed solidly and consistently enough... and you know what I liked the film.' However, he also made some stupid comments e.g. 'The thing that really knocked the pirates off was the existence of Radio 1' and 'One of the DJs is based on "Whispering Bob" Harris!' "
(08/04) Amsterdam Premiere photos
(08/04) Australasian Round-up
Recalling pirates of the radio waves – great interview with Norm St John
(08/04) Clip of Rick Wakeman soaking up the atmosphere aboard the Ross Revenge
(08/04) Another Review
(04/04) John Sales and numerous others have nominated this feature in the Nottingham Post to receive an award for the most badly-researched article ever. Judging by the comments posted, it could be the outright winner! It's somewhat disconcerting to realise that English students in Slovakia (see earlier story) have far better knowledge of offshore radio in the UK than journalists living here!
(04/04) Simon Dee and Paul Burnett are both considerably miffed by the movie:
(04/04) Meanwhile, Tony Blackburn posted a personal clip on YouTube to make it clear that he and his fellow Sixties 'Wets' were neither junkies nor sex maniacs and nobody ever swore on the air.
(04/04) In Australia, Graham Webb enjoyed the film, It’s been a rockin’ ride for this DJ but admitted 'poetic licence'' had been used when it came to the gaggles of girls aboard Radio Rock.
(04/04) Commenting on the activities depicted in the film, Cardboard Shoes tells Emma Lee of the Eastern Daily Press, "There was definitely rock and roll. But I can't say that I saw either of the other two."
"Listening to Keith – an hour and a half in his company just zips by – you wonder why Richard Curtis didn't just make 'Skues: the Movie'." she says.
(04/04) Radio 270 is remembered in the Yorkshire Post
(04/04) BBC 1, 2305 - 2335, Tuesday March 31: Film 2009 Jonathan Ross reviewed 'The Boat That Rocked' and was considerably less scathing about the movie than many critics e.g:
"Frequently, the film becomes simply a music video involving the whole cast."
(04/04) The Sun critic: Davy Jones's Rocker, was more appreciative and under no illusions about authenticity. "If you are hoping for an accurate account of how the likes of John Peel and Tony Blackburn took on the law and lost, put those expectations aside now.
(04/04) Interesting comments in the Independent (commences second paragraph of feature) by Kenny Everett's biographer David Lister, on how Radio London was far more influential on Sixties radio than Caroline. However, his statement, "Brian Epstein took a boat out to the Radio London ship to hand Everett the record, and ensure that it had its first play on Radio London" is somewhat wide of the mark. Kenny had already left the Galaxy by the time of the album's release and got to play it on the Beeb several weeks after Radio London. The real story is here.
Earlier stories have been moved to last month's Happenings.
(Thanks to Mike Barraclough, Alan Hardy, Jon Myer, Mike Terry, Graham Webb and others)
"I heard a wonderful one-hour northern offshore radio special on April 3rd from Tony James on BBC Cumbria. Not just the usual jingles and sound checks but good interviews about 270 and Radio Scotland.
One studio guest was an avid listener of Caroline North, he told a great story of when as a teenager he was cycling to school with his tranny and some music came on the radio that he had never heard before - River Deep Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner and he was so amazed at it he had to stop his bike and listen. It's memories like that of offshore radio that many of us remember to these days. I certainly do.
The guest also spoke fondly about the Isle of Man and how whenever he goes back to the island, he stands at Ramsey Bay (pictured) and looks out to sea where Caroline North used to be anchored."
Tony's interviewees reveal that the outlawed [Radio Scotland] 242 was considering anchoring the Comet off the Isle of Man! The crew and DJs endured one particularly treacherous journey when the lightvessel (they have no engines, remember) was towed right around the coast of Scotland.
Bratislava calling! I love the site and listen to the Sunday Fab Forty shows when I can. Oldies Project is great, as it introduced me to music even I don’t even remember. I really enjoy the Fab 40 songs. I am a middle-aged anorak – if you get me – now teaching English in Bratislava. I have fond memories of 70’s and 80’s Radio Caroline and Laser 558! Let’s just say I have a vivid ‘imagination’ of it all! I understand the Laser ship did bob around, unlike the Caroline ship and tenders in force 6 were not fun...
Attached is a pdf of my latest lesson: Easter, pirates & the boats that rocked. (NB: David says, “Please feel free to download and use this lesson. It teaches the subject to a whole new generation of students worldwide." However, David's English lessons are copyrighted, so he must be credited as their author.) I have only just started teaching this lesson I've created - yet for all my students so far, it is really fun and enjoyable. It is all NEW to foreign students and opens a door to them. Many of my adult pupils - early 20s - have never heard of a 45! Most have heard of a transistor radio, which originally I wrote as a ‘tranny’ – but when I double-checked the dictionary, discovered that in today’s world it is also listed as a transvestite!
The lesson goes down really well – especially when I round it off with the international movie trailer on YouTube for The Boat That Rocked. Then it all makes sense to them. It is interesting just how people here view music – today and in the past – so different to in the UK. I like the Slovak versions of English songs and also songs in Slovak. Yet the principle is exactly the same. Young people today want alternative music that mainstream stations here don’t play. They are fed up with the mainstream radio here; it is so boring. Two of my adult students prefer folk and Viking ‘metal music’ – also underground music. So history repeats itself. Before, there was Communism. Now there is capitalism and recently the EU!
People here under communism used to listen to Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and the BBC World Service. This was free radio for them. Musically, many used to listen to Radio Luxembourg. My old landlord used to be a DJ during communism. They used to smuggle the singles over the border from Vienna. The communists turned a blind eye – even providing an outlet for university students with purpose-built discos in mainly communist-built university buildings.
Keep up the web page – it is FAB! Will be in the UK over Easter. I might even go to Harwich!
We think many English teachers would do well to take a leaf out of David's book. Visit his News Flash English website.
(Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and spans both banks of the Danube River. The city borders both Austria and Hungary.)
Admirers of Radio London's signature tune 'Big Lil', aka the PAMS Sonovox Waltz, will enjoy this clip on YouTube – Incredible Sonovox - Kay Kyser - 1940 film "You'll Find Out"(Thanks to Stuart Aiken)
Astrid in Hamburg writes:
Dear Mary, thank you for the wonderful Radio London sweat shirt! It was a birthday gift for my husband. He was listening to Radio London for several years when he was about 17. Now he is 62 and he is still listening enthusiastically to your music. He was very surprised to get the sweat shirt and I have difficulties to wash it because he doesnt want to take it off!"
Thanks a lot, Astrid
Want a new Toy? – how about a radio-controlled pirate ship!
Now everyone can join the Beatles
An electronic game called 'The Beatles: Rock Band' is set for worldwide release on September 9th (090909). It takes players through an "unprecedented experiential progression" of the musical career of the band. Giles Martin, co-producer of The Beatles innovative LOVE album project, is providing his expertise and serving as Music Producer.
To register for updates about the game, visit thebeatlesrockband.com where you'll see an empty Abbey Road studio. If you turn your volume up full, you can hear a bit of tuning up and chatting going on in the background.