Jan/Feb/March is here
The archived Happenings index is here...

More news... Page 2

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)
12 November 1943 – May 7 2011

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.)

On 20th February 1966, 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' was Dave Cash's climber and became a Fab Forty #3 on March 20th, spending eight weeks in the chart.
The 'I Need You' EP was DOW for June 5th and went Top Ten in July, as did DOW for July 3rd, '(Baby) You Don't Have to Tell Me'. On July 10th, the single, on its way up at #21, met the EP, on its way down at #22! 'Portrait' was Album of the Week for 21st August, with 'Another Tear Falls' DOW on September 11th and in the Top Ten in October.

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,
I am deeply touched by your beautiful, heartfelt responses to John's illness and passing.  During his last weeks, I read aloud to him your touching stories and get well messages, sent from all over the world to cheer him on.  Over and over again, each and every day, your words brought a glorious smile to his face, and tears to my eyes to see it! Then the amazing tributes poured in like great waves of love. Words simply don't express my gratitude to you for reaching out to John, myself, the family, Ann, Joy, and Polly. Please know that the time you took to do that brought us great comfort and support. Love works!
John was an absolutely unique and stunning treasure of a man, in private and in public. A lovely, lovely true gentleman.
I embrace and thank each of you. Cynthia

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.

The Fab Forty Index contains links to all the charts mentioned individually above. Ben Toney's recollection of his influence on Maurice King appears on Page 8.

Daily Telegraph Neil McCormick tribute 'John Walker: Great Pop Lives Forever'.

Above and Home Page photos reproduced by kind permission of Chris Walter, Photofeatures.com.

Ray Clark interview used by kind permission of Ray Clark and Tim Gillett of BBC Essex.

Philip Solomon
Died 10th April 2011

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.

On the Bachelors' personal website, Dec Cluskey recalls a special moment:

"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)
18 June 1925 – 20 March 2011

Johnny Pearson assisted many musical careers, including those of Lena Horne, Shirley Bassey and Cilla Black. He arranged Cilla's hugely-successful 1966 version of Burt Bacharach's film theme 'Alfie' – #5 on the Fab Forty. Somehow, Johnny also found the time to lead the Top of the Pops house band for BBC TV, and to front Sounds Orchestral.

For 16 years from 1964, the Johnny Pearson Orchestra was the Top of the Pops house band. With many acts unable to recreate the studio-quality sounds of their singles that the public expected, the orchestra provided musical assistance. Now that BBC4 is airing vintage episodes of the popular chart show, the Johnny Pearson Orchestra is back on TV. Several well-known TV themes were written by Johnny, including the opening for ITV's 'News at Ten' and 'All Creatures Great and Small'.

Writing in the Independent, Spencer Leigh relates how in 1964, Pye recording manager John Schroeder, heard 'Cast Your Fate To The Wind', a jazz instrumental, which had been a top thirty US Hot Hundred hit for pianist Vince Guaraldi. Schroeder wanted to record it and after he listened to a 15-minute Radio Luxembourg programme devoted to Johnny Pearson, he recognised that this was the talent he wanted to record his own arrangement of the Guaraldi tune. Schroeder and Pearson co-wrote the B-side, 'To Wendy With Love'.

Pye's MD was not impressed with the idea of the company releasing a jazz single, but Tony Hatch persuaded him to give it a chance. When the BBC picked the music to back a 1964 Christmas trailer, it proved so appealing to the viewers that Pye received a sudden rush of 10,000 orders. When they had a hit on their hands, the MD changed his tune!

'Cast Your Fate To The Wind' was already a sales-based UK hit for Sounds Orchestral when Radio London came on the air in 1964. The station gave it plenty of airplay and it featured in early versions of the Fab Forty. In the US Hot Hundred, it went on to become more successful than the Guaraldi original.

There were no more major hits for the trio, but 'Moonglow (Introducing 'Theme From Picnic')' was in the Fab Forty for two weeks in June 1965 and spent a fortnight even lower down the Nationals. 'Canadian Sunset' scraped into the Hot Hundred a month later and 'Summer Love' was a Big L climber in March the following year.

The 1965 album 'The Soul of Sounds Orchestral' was one of many released by Pye. Alongside 'Moonglow' and 'Canadian Sunset' it includes covers of Horst Jankowski's hit 'Walk in the Black Forest' and Alan Haven's well-known offshore favourite 'Romance on the North Sea' (the B-side of 'Image'). The latter had been used on Caroline North for closedowns and by Daffy Don Allen as his theme tune.

Håkan Widenstedt
Died 21st March 2011

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:

I was choked when I got the information of Håkan's death.

The date March 21, when he died, was very close to the date when he got married in 1980 and also to the Mi Amigo sinking... But Håkan had been divorced for many years.

We grew up in the same little town and became friends in the mid-Sixties. We shared an early interest in radio and set up an FM pirate - but Håkan got caught! In 1972 we went out to the Radio Veronica and RNI ships on the North Sea and on the same trip, also visited the pirate museum Mi Amigo, in Zaandam, NL. We attended 'Driftback 20' in 1987 and Håkan visited the Ross Revenge then. My wife Birgitta and I had been to the Ross one year earlier, hence I didn't go with Håkan on that trip.

I moved to Stockolm in 1975 but Håkan and I kept in close contact ever since. He was employed by the transmitter operator that ran the SW and MW transmitter for Radio Sweden. Radio Sweden closed down SW and MW in 2010 and it was during dismantling of the SW antenna that Håkan passed away. As far as I know it was not an accident, but the examination will probably tell the cause. A tragic end indeed!

I'll pass your kind condolences to one of Håkan's two daughters. Her name is Veronica.


John Sales met Håkan during the Big L Reunion in Summer 1999 at the Royal Hotel in Clacton, when the photo above was taken:

I remember Håkan very well, as I had a very long conversation with him about technical radio matters after we left the hotel to adjourn to the pub next door. He certainly knew his stuff and he also told me that the CFA [intended to be used for the longwave transmissions from the Isle of Man] did actually work. From what I remember, he wasn't all that old and I'm very sorry indeed to learn of his sad passing.

Keith Fordyce
15th October 1927 – 15th March 2011

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.


I was sad to hear of the death of Keith Fordyce. I was brought up on ‘Ready Steady Go’ and for me, the show has never been bettered. I couldn’t wait for 8 minutes past 6 on a Friday night. Keith was an urbane character in the midst of utter bedlam. The show was always live and chaotic.

RSG was the programme where I first saw James Brown, Otis Redding, Ike and Tina Turner, John Lee Hooker, Sugar Pie DeSanto and most of the Motown stars of the day. It was also where George Harrison, while being interviewed by Cathy McGowan, said his favourite artists were Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles and Impressions. Not bad considering it was 1964 and hardly anyone in Britain had heard of any of those names.

The thing that strikes you in retrospect, is that Keith was completely free of gimmicks, catch-phrases, or any kind of hype. He kept his cool in every situation, including one memorable occasion when John Lennon turned his back on him in the middle of a live interview. Keith in my view was there for the music and not himself. He was never a superstar DJ, just a solid, reliable professional.
I was lucky enough to see his (Light Programme) radio show ‘Pop Inn’ broadcast live from The Paris in Lower Regent Street. This was in 1962, and from that day on, I was hooked. My one memory of the show is that Keith chain-smoked his way through the entire broadcast.

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
6th July 1939 – 18th March 2011

The music industry is mourning the death of original Shadows bass guitarist Jet Harris, who has lost a long battle against cancer.

Jet, who earned his nickname at school as a speedy sprinter, played in many bands before joining Cliff Richard's Drifters. In 1959, when a name-change became necessary after an injunction from the US vocal group of the same name, Jet was credited with suggesting that the UK Drifters should become The Shadows. The first hit record he played on was 'High Class Baby' in 1958 and the last recording he made with the band was 'Wonderful Land, in 1962.

Jet was renowned for his instrumental releases and his hits with Tony Meehan (who died in 2005) but his 1967 solo vocal 'My Lady' (written by Reg Presley of the Troggs) was a minor Fab Forty success and was picked as John Peel's climber for 09/07/67.

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.
(Right) Jet appeared at the Brighton Sixties Festival 1999. Photo: Pauline Miller.

A couple of our friends have sent lovely personal memories.

Jet Harris and Tony Meehan topped the bill at the first ever 'pop concert' I went to. I must have been 11 or 12 and my mum took me. It was one of those package shows with lots of acts doing a few songs each. I can't remember everyone else who was on the bill but there was definitely Don Spencer singing the theme tune to 'Fireball XL5' and I think Susan Maughan - or was it Billie Davis? Maybe both of them. It was at a cinema in Brighton and the sound quality was absolutely dreadful. I remember how distorted it was. But it was very exciting and grown-up!

Jet Harris and Tony Meehan were my first instrumental heroes. I’d liked groups like Johnny & The Hurricanes and The Shadows, but for some reason Jet and Tony’s records meant more to me. I didn’t get to see them in concert, but one of my annual treats was to save my pocket money and when on summer holiday buy an EP. In 1963 it was 'Jet and Tony' featuring the first two big hits Diamonds and Scarlett O’Hara. Singing along with Jet’s guitar, I could play Tony’s drum solos quite well on my mum’s cake tins!

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.

Cromwellian Memories
Emily Archer has written about the website she has started about the Cromwellian Club, Sixties watering hole of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones et al:

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

New trends for record stores
Although downloads and online shopping have made a drastic impact on business, independent retailers are fighting back. Over 180 of them participated in the UK's third Record Store Day on April 16th. (The idea started in America in 2007.) Singles sales doubled from those at last year's event, with albums purchases up 20%. One of the successful ideas attracting customers to the indies is the chance to buy exclusive merchandise that can't be purchased elsewhere. In-store events on the day included DJ sessions and live performances.

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
Cari Wilkins reports on an exhibition in Shoreditch:

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

Fancy a trip back to 1966?
The website anglotopia.net has downloadable construction plans for building your own Tardis. Happy time-travelling!
Life could be a dream...
SH-BOOM! is the UK’s first music-based social network for post-war ‘baby boomers’ – a unique music community for the over-50s who have grown up with the music and artists of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
SH-BOOM! is also the UK’s only dedicated music magazine for over-50s men and women who’ve lived the soundtrack of the rock 'n' roll years. From the Rockin' Fifties and Swinging Sixties ... to the best 'grown-ups' music of today.
(Thanks to Alan Hardy)
New Additions to Offshore Echoes' Themes
Chris Edwards reports

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.

Vintage TOTP Trial
MusicWeek reports that BBC4 is airing vintage 'Top Of The Pops' episodes from the corresponding week in 1976, as part of a TV nostalgia experiment for the station.

The show is broadcast on Thursdays in the old BBC 1 slot of 1930 and will air for at least one year, with a view to extend its run should the idea prove successful.
(Thanks to Alan Hardy)
Caroline on Sounds of the Sixties!
In an unexpected departure from the Beeb's usual reluctance to give any credit to offshore broadcasting, Radio 2's 'Sounds of the Sixties' (March 26th), acknowledged the birthday of Radio Caroline on March 28th and featured the famous bell (twice!) and a short clip of Simon Dee. The station even got acknowledged for starting a pop revolution. Kudos to Producer Phil Swern!
Back to 'Kneesflashes'