Kathleen O'Rourke (Kathy Kirby)
20 October 1938 – 19 May 2011
A statement on Kathy's Official website reads:
"We are very sad to announce the passing of our much loved Kathy Kirby. She has died at the age of 72 after a short illness. She will be greatly missed. May her music play on in our hearts."
Kathy had enjoyed her biggest chart successes in the early Sixties before Radio London came on the air. Her longest spell in the Fab Forty was with 'I Belong' – placed second in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest held in Naples. The single reached #15, much higher than in the Nationals. Kathy's other appearances on the Big L playlist were 'Will I Never Learn', which was selected as John Edward's hit-pick and on the climber list for two weeks in June 1966. In April 1967, 'No One's Gonna Hurt You Anymore' featured in the Ballad Box.
Kathy was a great radio fan. Her website reveals that she did not watch much television unless there was an old Hollywood movie on starring the likes of Doris Day or Lana Turner. Kathy much preferred to listen to the radio. She was always tuned to BBC Radio Two and even listened to the Eurovision Song Contest on the radio, saying that it should be the song that counts and not all the visual gimmicks that are seen today.
Caroline's Graham Webb's audio tribute.
Independent obituary by Alan Clayson
John Joseph Maus (John Walker)
John Walker, described by friend and bandmate Gary Walker as "a compassionate song-writer and a gentleman with lots of style," has died at his home in California after a 6-month fight against liver cancer.
Before coming to England, John Maus was a child actor, singer and musician in California. Many of his earliest recordings were made with his sister as 'John and Judy'. Because he was under age for playing in a drinking club, John had to obtain a fake identity card. He chose the name Walker, but said he did not remember what had inspired him to do so.
Already playing and recording in California as the Walker Brothers, John Maus and Scott Engel were persuaded by Gary Leeds, who was already familiar with touring the UK, drumming with PJ Proby, to embark on an adventure. The unrelated trio travelled to England to make their fortune as the Walker Brothers.
There is little doubt that the offshore stations were instrumental in the Walkers' success. The trio was friendly with Kenny and Cash and recorded a short (circa 7 seconds) jingle for them – 'Kenny and Cash, in London'. It should really have been 'on London'. All of the Walkers' Sixties releases appeared in the Radio London playlist, beginning with March 7th 1965, when Dave Cash picked 'Pretty Girls Everywhere' as his climber. It entered the Fab Forty the following week, stayed for a second week and peaked at #25.
'Pretty Girls...' was the first of four 1965 Radio London Fab Forty entries for the Walkers. They were back two weeks later with a new climber – 'Love Her' – which spent a fortnight in the chart, but the breakthrough hit 'Make it Easy on Yourself', arrived on August 1st. Big L Programme Director Ben Toney reveals in his memoirs how he persuaded the Walker's manager Maurice King that this was the standout track on their album that really ought to be the band's next single. It went on to spend nine weeks on the Big L chart, three of them in the Top Ten, reaching #4. When the album 'Take it Easy With the Walker Brothers' was released, the cover contained complimentary notes from both Dave Cash of Radio London and Tony Blackburn of Radio Caroline. This was the first time a major record company recognised the pirates and their influence. 'My Ship is Coming In' arrived in the chart of the last week in November and peaked one place higher than 'Make it Easy...'at #4.
The following year, the trio was scarcely out of the Fab Forty and in 1966 and 1967 more of their singles were selected as Radio London Club Disc of the Week (DOW) than any other act. (Every week during the Fab Forty Show, names of Radio London Club members were drawn at random to win a copy of the latest DOW.)
Film theme 'Deadlier Than the Male' was DOW for Dec 4th and heading for the festive Top Ten. In 1966 you could not get a more potent combination than the Walker Brothers and James Bond-type spy films! The band was massively popular and like the Beatles, the Walkers suffered the indignity of being unable to hear themselves sing for girls screaming and they weren't able go anywhere without being mobbed.
Early in 1967, the Walkers were obliged by work permit problems to leave the UK for six months and new releases were thin on the ground. 'Stay With Me Baby' was selected as DOW for 22nd January, whizzing up to #4 two weeks later. The last Walker Brothers Sixties release, 'Walking in the Rain' was Ed Stewart's climber for 7th May and went Fab Forty Top Ten a month later.
In recent years, John returned regularly to the UK to participate in Sixties tours and remarked on how much he enjoyed being able to talk to his audience after the shows. At the height of Walkermania, they would have ripped him to shreds! His last public performance was in California in March 2011. John was also a recording engineer and owned a studio and record label in Los Angeles.
In an interview with Ray Clark of BBC Essex, Gary Walker reveals that he last spoke to John on the phone about two weeks before he died. He said that although his friend was weakened by his illness, John had not given up writing music.
On the Official John Walker Website, John's widow Cynthia gives grateful thanks for all the support she has received from fans and friends worldwide and lists charities where donations may be made in his memory. She writes:
Dear friends and fans,
Click here for a Tribute by Caroline's Graham Webb in Australia.
Additional information and links
A picture of the fake ID card that gave the band its name.
Daily Telegraph Neil McCormick tribute 'John Walker: Great Pop Lives Forever'.
Dec Cluskey from the Bachelors delivered the eulogy at the funeral of their manager Philip Solomon, on Monday, 18th April in Bournemouth.
In partnership with his wife Dorothy, father Louis and brother Mervyn, Philip Solomon discovered and managed some of the biggest names in Irish music, including the Bachelors and Van Morrison's band Them. In 1966, Philip and his brother Mervyn became the major shareholders in Planet Productions, the company that ran Radio Caroline.
One of the Solomons' aims was to exploit their record labels Emerald and Major Minor. Because the labels carried many Irish performers, the intention was to boost the transmitter output of Caroline North to cover the whole of Ireland. Emerald released a cover of Roger Miller's 'England Swings', retitled 'Ireland Swings'. (See Billboard story).
Post-MOA, when Caroline had no advertisers, the Solomons' labels were promoted even more heavily on the two station playlists. Many of the tracks were not appreciated by the DJs, especially when they were required to exploit 'Sentimental Songs' by Freddie 'Parrotface' Davis! However, every fan of the station still remembers Major Minor's 'Days of Pearly Spencer' and 'Soul Coaxing' and the tracks always attract many requests during offshore radio recreations.
Even after the demise of Caroline, Major Minor enjoyed a 1968 UK number one – 'Mony Mony' by Tommy James and the Shondells, but the label ceased trading in 1970.
"What did it feel like standing in Philip’s flat in Park Lane, London, listening to the acetate pressing of our first proper recording? Did you ever get that hair on the back of your neck stand on end... did you ever have a welling up in your eyes with sheer excitement... did you ever just stand silent in disbelief? That numbness? It was all of that and then some more."
His widow Dorothy encourages donations in lieu of flowers, to The Mayhew Animal Home c/o Head and Wheble, funeral directors.
Thanks to Kenny Tosh and Jon Myer. Photo by Doug McKenzie
John Valmore Pearson (Johnny Pearson)
We are sorry to report the death of Håkan. A group of Radio London friends met him during a 1999 reunion and he was kind enough to help us solve the mystery of Swedish group the Mascots and their visit to Radio London.
Per Alarud writes from Sweden with memories of his close friend:
John Sales met Håkan during the Big L Reunion in Summer 1999 at the Royal Hotel in Clacton, when the photo above was taken:
Keith's impressive broadcasting resumé began with BFBS, followed by Radio Luxembourg, where he became Chief Announcer in an era when 208 tended to have announcers rather than DJs. He later broadcast on the BBC Light Programme, then on its two replacement services, Radio 1 and 2. In 1983, Keith became the first presenter of ‘Sounds of the 60s’, Radio 2's Saturday-morning oldies show, currently hosted by Brian Matthew. In recent years, he had worked in local radio in Devon.
Keith also enjoyed a healthy TV career. In 1961, he was the original host of ABC TV's 'Thank Your Lucky Stars', but he will be best remembered for fronting ‘Ready, Steady, Go’, co-hosted by Cathy McGowan. Associated Rediffusion's Friday pop favourite ran from 1963 to 1966 and its slogan 'The Weekend Starts Here!' was taken to heart by every music fan and wannabe trend-setter. Keith held a somewhat avuncular role for youngsters in the studio, holding the live show together amidst the chaos of dancers and bands.
Peter Young's Soul Cellar tribute to Keith and 'RSG' can be heard via Jazz FM 'Audio on Demand' for one week from March 26th
Terence 'Jet' Harris
The music industry is mourning the death of original Shadows bass guitarist Jet Harris, who has lost a long battle against cancer.
After a long spell away from the music scene, Jet returned in the Eighties. He released his final album 'The Journey' in 2007 and was awarded an MBE for services to Music in 2010.
(Left) An early photo from the Jet Harris website.
A couple of our friends have sent lovely personal memories.
Tributes may be posted in the Guestbook on Jet's website.
Fab French Documentary
Mike Barraclough says:
There's some fascinating footage in this 20 minute 1966 French TV documentary spotted by DavidRP on one of the anorak lists.
He asked who the DJ was singing along to the record at 9:29 and I was able, thanks to your site, to find out that it is Mick Luvzit lip-synching to his single 'Long Time Between Lovers'. Paul Rusling has now sent Mick the link.
Mick will be really pleased to see this. He must have been promoting his single aboard the Mi Amigo during time off from Caroline North. The documentary certainly is fascinating. Rosko is on top form, others seen aboard the ship include Mike Ahern and Tom Lodge and Ronan O'Rahilly is interviewed in his office. A BBC spokesman is invited to give the Corporation view on the subject of the pirates and the shooting of Reg Calvert is covered, with Kitty Black interviewed at length.
I have very much enjoyed reading some of Ben Toney's memoirs – the Sixties was such an exciting era!
My father, Bob (Anthony) Archer was part-owner and manager of The Cromwellian in those days and because there is so little about the club on the internet I have decided to start a blog about it - www.thecromwellian.wordpress.com.
Emily welcomes anyone with memories of the nightclub to share them on the website, by filling in the comments box
The website also carries the results of a poll to the UK’s best indie record outlets. We offshore fans were particularly taken by the name of Carmarthen's award-winner – Tangled Parrot.
There's a healthy market in secondhand goods too, as That's Entertainment has discovered. The company has branches in 12 towns, with plans to double the number of shops this year.
BBC news feature: Can record stores avoid extinction?
Syd Barrett: Art & Letters coincided with the publication of the new book 'Barrett'
Many survivors of the '60s underground attended the private view – Jeff Dexter, Barry Miles, Hoppy Hopkins, Storm Thorgerson and others – as well as a few more recent 'names' such as the very sweet Captain Sensible and Graham Coxon (Blur).
I've seen some of Syd's artwork before in Cambridge – he was a talented artist all his life. His letters - loaned by two ex-girlfriends - are illustrated with sketches and cartoons. There are a few photos of Syd from the psychedelic era, including two taken by my brother Steve, of Pink Floyd in 1966! Steve has two more photos published in the book. One of his exhibition photos also appears in the March edition of Record Collector (page 70), and as a tiny image here.
The exhibition ran until April 10th, but was marred by the theft of one of Syd's paintings from the Idea Generation Gallery on April 9th. It was a self-portrait which he gave to Libby Gausden-Chisman in 1962.
Fortunately, after a net campaign to track down the thief, and the offer of a £2000 reward, the painting was returned in good condition on April 12th
The Offshore Radio Themes pages at Offshore Echoes have now been updated with more audio clips and more pictures. There are now almost 2000 mp3 clips of theme tunes.
Visit the offshore themes web pages.