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Photo: Kentonline

Dan Bransby
1953 - 2012

Paul Graham has sent the sad news that Dan, who broadcast on the Big L 2001 Clacton RSL, died on April 26th, aged 59. Paul said, "Dan was a great colleague. I worked with him on other stations after the RSL."

Dan broadcast on many stations including Radio Essex, Mercury FM, Oasis FM, Radio 1017 in London and Whitstable's Radio Red Sands. He had lived on the Isle of Sheppey since 2005 and was heard regularly on the island's community station, BRFM.

Photo (Bert Weedon website): Happy times. Bert and friend George Harrison raise a toast at Joe Brown's wedding. Paul McCartney admitted that he and George used 'Play in a Day' to learn the chords D and A and John Lennon confessed that he began learning the guitar with the aid of the book. It is still available and Bert also recorded a DVD tutorial.

Herbert Maurice William 'Bert' Weedon, OBE
May 10th 1920 – April 20th 2012

Eastender Bert's musical career began at the age of twelve, when he persuaded his father to buy him a battered guitar from the
Petticoat Lane Street Market, costing all of 75p. By the end of his long life, 91-year-old Bert owned 11 guitars, six of the instruments custom made for him and one of which was gold-plated.

Bert's renowned 'Play in a Day' manual was purchased by countless would-be guitar virtuosos, many of whom went on to fulfil their dreams. He was voted Britain's Top Guitarist in National popularity polls nine times, and his reputation established him as an in-demand accompanist. Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland and Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and Billy Fury all availed themselves of Bert's talents.

Musician guests paying their respects on Bert's 'This is Your Life' (Thames TV, 1992) included Eric Clapton, Brian May, Hank Marvin, Phil Collins, Adam Faith, Val Doonican, Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan and Marty Wilde. Bert was a long-time friend of amplification pioneer Jim Marshall, who died only two weeks before him. (See obituary below)

As a Water Rat, Bert was highly active in charity work and he was elected King Rat in 1992. In 2001, HM the Queen awarded him the OBE for his services to entertainment and charities.

In 2002 Bert went on a UK tour called Call Up the Groups, with the Barron Knights (naturally), Tremeloes, Fortunes and Marmalade, and between them the musicians performed over thirty of their million-selling hits. Bert's book had probably inspired most of the other guitarists on the tour.

Bert's personal website; Guardian obituary.

Memorial marquee at
the Stax Museum, Memphis

Photo: Stax site.

Andrew Love
November 21, 1941 – April 13th 2012

Andrew Love, the tenor sax player who, with trumpeter Wayne Jackson, formed the Memphis Horns and backed so many sucessful artists, has died, aged 70.

He played on numerous recordings by the likes of Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley and several Fab 40 tracks, including Wilson Pickett's #2, 'In the Midnight Hour', Otis Redding's #12, 'Try a Little Tenderness', and Eddie Floyd's Soul Set favourite 'Knock on Wood'.

February 2012 saw the Memphis Horns become only the second group of backing musicians ever to win a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. The duo had been inducted into the Musicians' Hall of Fame in 2008. In total, the Memphis Horns played on 83 gold and platinum albums and 52 #1 records during the course of their career.

Co-owner of Stax, Al Bell, told the Los Angeles Times, "Stax Records would not have become what it became without them."

A memorial service for Andrew was held at the Mount Nebo Missionary Baptist Church in South Memphis on April 20th, the same church where his father, Rev. Roy Love, pastored for nearly 50 years.

Rolling Stone obit; NPR; Sydney Morning Herald;

Richard Wagstaff 'Dick' Clark
November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012

"Music really is one of the three most important things in our lives"

'America's oldest teenager', Dick Clark has died in Santa Monica at the age of 82.

He began fronting and producing the famous TV pop show American Bandstand in 1956, aged 27. The 'live dance party' evolved from a radio programme and was, in effect, a visual version of a radio show with a host DJ. Teens jived to records and pop stars mimed to them, as they did some years later on BBC TV's Top of The Pops. Originally called simply 'Bandstand', the show began in the West Philadelphia studios of local TV station WFIL-TV and upgraded to the name 'American Bandstand' when it was networked by ABC.

"I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," said Dick. "I knew if I could make it work, it would be a big part of my life."

Giving insight into the importance of the programme and its dancers to Philly teens, the webmaster of Fiftiesweb writes:

"Everybody knew the names of The Regulars on Bandstand. Kenny Rossi and Arlene Sullivan, Bunny Gibson and Eddie Kelly, Pat Molittieri, Carmen Jimenz, Joyce Shafer. We followed their dance steps on TV and their personal lives in Teen magazines. We sent some 15,000 fan letters each week. Remember, these Regulars weren't paid actors or dancers. They were real kids from Philly, and if you watched every day, you could tell who was breaking up and who was making up."

In August 1964, the show relocated to Los Angeles. It became the nation's longest-running programme and one of the most influential in the music business.

Initially, only white youngsters danced on American Bandstand, but Clark saw an opportunity to assist in racial integration in his young audience and changed that. He also condemned censorship and introduced original R&B recordings by black artists instead of the often-insipid white cover versions. Many artists got their first TV break on the show including Motown's Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Stevie Wonder – who was still 'Little' at the time. Chuck Berry paid homage to the show in the lyrics of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', "They'll be rocking on Bandstand, in Philadelphia, P.A." Indeed they were.

Messages written by Dick Clark fans will be part of the confetti that's showered on Times Square next New Year's Eve. Square-inch pieces of confetti containing people's memories of the long-time host of the annual drop ceremony, will be displayed at the Times Square Visitor Center & Museum Confetti Wishing Wall until December 31 2012. Online tributes are also being accepted.

The original WFIL studio is now on the American Register of Historical Places and Bandstand's original podium and backdrop had been donated by Clark to the Smithsonian Institution.

Fiftiesweb: Tidbits about the show, including stories about the Bandstand Regulars and the lyrics to the theme song 'Bandstand Boogie' – penned by Barry Manilow and Bruse Sussman.

Kansas City Star tribute; Entertainment Today;

James Charles Marshall, OBE
29 July 1923 – 5 April 2012

Amplification pioneer Jim Marshall was known as 'The Father of Loud' and sometimes 'The Lord of Loud', but to many musicians he was simply 'Dad'.

Initially, Marshall was a drummer and drum-teacher and designed his amplifiers in his spare time. The drumming jobs provided a start-up fund for the business that was to provide equipment for many a Fab Forty artist. In the Guardian obituary, he is quoted as saying, "I had so many top drummers as pupils that they started bringing their guitarists into the shop with them – chaps like Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend. They would say, 'Jim, if you sold guitars and amplifiers, we'd much prefer to buy them from you because all the music shops in the West End treat us like absolute idiots because we play rock'n'roll."

Many of these grateful 'idiots' later donated equipment to the museum at the Marshall amplifier factory in Milton Keynes. "There are original models of the 100-watt amps favoured by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. But it is the tributes that various stars have scrawled on to their gear that are most striking. A 50-watt model donated by Jeff Beck states: 'Thanks, Dad, for everything'."

Remembering 'Boom Boom'
On April 4, 2012 some of Boom Boom Brannigan's friends, including Radio England shipmate Jack Curtiss, convened to hold a brief memorial ceremony in Roanoke, Virginia, at the place where Boomer met his untimely death, aged 19.

The group gathered at the intersection of Franklin Road and Highland Avenue, where exactly 45 years ago, the broadcaster, who had worked briefly at local stations WROV and WPXI, was one several deejays taking turns at riding a borrowed motorcycle. Boomer was struck and killed by a driver ignoring a stop sign.

(l to r) John Andrews, Jack Curtiss, Pat Garrett and Steve Nelson. Roanoke-native Garrett was eight years old when he heard Jack hosting 'The Enormous Jack Curtiss Show' over WROV in 1966. Photo courtesy of Jack Curtiss.

'Boomer', whose real name was Robert Klineman, had not long returned from his Radio England adventure aboard the Laissez Faire when the tragedy ocurred. Like Johnnie Walker and Chuck Blair, the DJ had picked his on-air name from an existing WPTR jingle package. Jose Fritz, author of the Ten Watts blogspot spotted the jingle connection between two DJs who never met, but shared the on-air name of Boom Boom Brannigan.

As Jack Curtiss told the Pirate Radio Radio Hall of Fame in 2007, "In a way, I think Boomer's life was truly emblematic of sixties pirate radio itself... brash, cocky, bursting with adolescent energy, full of promise... and cut short way too soon before its time."

Tom Danaher News
We were very sorry to receive the following news from Don Pierson's son Grey: "I have to report that Tom Danaher has not improved since suffering his stroke. I spoke to his longtime partner, Shirley, a couple of months ago and she told me that he remains 'confused'. A sad state for a wonderful man and a great friend."

On Youtube: watch Tom talk about an old Seabea seaplane - interrupted by his cat.

More Big L Fab Forty artists inducted to R & R Hall of Fame
April 14th saw the Small Faces – stars of 'Dateline Diamonds' and known to Kenny Everett as the 'Minuscule Mushes' – and Donovan – inventor of the 'electrical banana' – inducted into Cleveland, Ohio's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Museum has recently undergone its first redesign since opening. According to Vice President of Exhibitions Jim Henkeit, the revamp includes "The most comprehensive, artifact-driven Beatles exhibit in the world... an absolutely incredible collection." The permanent exhibit includes around seventy artefacts, some on display for the first time.

Highlights include George’s striped suit from the 1966 US tour, Ringo’s red military-style jacket from the 'Strawberry Fields Forever' promo film, John’s black wool coat worn in 'Help!' and Paul’s handwritten arrangement for 'Birthday' There are also Stuart Sutcliffe’s sketches of himself and John Lennon and John's illustration of Stuart.

Readers' favourite record stores and new retail charts
Ten Guardian readers have written about record shops that shaped their lives. The paper also has an interactive record store map of the UK and encourages submissions of fondly-remembered local favourites.

Meanwhile, the Official Charts Company has launched a new music chart, enumerating physical sales of albums in independent UK records stores. The online results will be unveiled every Sunday at 19:00 BST.

Searching for 'Beatles'
The producers of a new stage show 'Let it Be' - celebrating the 50th anniversary of the single's release – are seeking talented musicians to take the roles of the Fab Four. Auditions were Tuesday, May 1st in Liverpool with more on Tuesday, May 8th in London. They come with the warning, "Be prepared to wait"!

"Excellent musicians who play Lead Guitar, Bass Guitar or Drums with strong vocals to audition for the leading roles in the forthcoming West End production of Let it Be.

Candidates should prepare at least one Beatles song and demonstrate a high level of musicianship while focusing on recreating that authentic Beatles sound. A physical resemblance is also desirable. Please be prepared to wait. Amplifiers and Drum Kit will be provided. Beatles attire welcome!"

The show will run from September 2012 to January 2013 at London's Prince of Wales theatre.

Sadly, the PR company deemed it necessary to write a note for Editors, "The Beatles are* George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr," which implies that there might be some press release recipients who do not know that. After 50 years, we have to suppose that this is possible. (*Surely that should read 'were'.)

A new Fab Four documentary 'The Beatles: The Lost Concert' airs on US TV this month.

Radio West Mid's a Revived-45
Congratulations to Radio West Middlesex, the hospital radio station launched by Alan Hardy (left) and Chris Payne (far left), which is celebarting its 45 birthday and still going strong. Alan currently holds the roles of both Programme Controller and Chairman and broadcasts a weekly Saturday morning request show 'Needle Talk', which he has been presenting since the station's first day.

Other birthdays in the merry month are Tom Danaher, 2nd, Norm St John, 12th and Guy Hamilton (Radio Essex), 27th. Happy birthday one and all!

It's true...
says Mark Roman of the pic on the left, which he enjoyed so much that he decided to share it.

Paul's latest model
Many thanks to Hans Knot for sharing this photo of Paul Ciesielski's new model of the Radio Waddenzee ship, named after our late friend Jenni Baynton. Paul, who also made the lovely miniature Galaxy featured in our Models section, has nicknamed his latest work the Lady in Red.

We have shared the photos with Jenni's daughters Nicola and Teresa. Teresa said, "Wow, how amazing! Thank you for keeping in touch, I do like hearing about what is going on with Radio London as it reminds me of all the good times Mum had with you and her friends. I'm still living in Brighton and teaching sixth formers about British history, which means that I can tell them all about the pirates!"

PIrates' Easter Parade
Keith Skues, Tom Edwards and Andy Archer featured in a two-part special that was broadcast on BBC Radio Norfolk and other local stations over Easter. In 'Pirates on Parade' the Watery Wireless DJs reminisced about the more broadcastable of their offshore radio experiences. The programmes are the result of Radio Norfolk boss David Clayton inviting the three ex-renegades to a get-together last November where he recorded their chat. Tom said, "We did 'yak yak yak' for about an hour and 58 minutes! As always with my DJ pals of so many years, we just pick up our conversation where we left it. Amazing!"

The 'yakking'
included a namecheck not only for Bud Ballou and Elvis, but the world's biggest superstar, Ernest Splodgewinkle and was interspersed with the music of the era.

(Left) Tom, Andy and Keith, with David Clayton (front). Tom kindly supplied the photo taken by "my good friend, namely Jason Bloor who drove me from Heckington to Norwich and all the way back again." Thanks, Jason.

Editor Paul Hayes told Facebook's Keith Skues Fan Group:

I've had the honour and pleasure of editing for broadcast David Clayton's interview session with the trio, and I can promise it's a must-listen for any fan of Keith, Andy or Tom in particular or the pirate days in general! (Thanks to Mike Terry)

Five offshore birthdays in April
April is another packed month for offshore birthdays. Graeme Gill celebrates on the 15th, Graham Webb on the 19th, Admiral Robbie Dale on the 21st, Ed Stewpot on the 23rd and Phil Martin on the 30th. Many happy returns to you all.

Ex-pirates on Magic
Three former Radio One jocks have back-to-back Sunday night shows on Magic am, playing hits from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. Ex-pirates Tony Blackburn (Caroline and Big L), DLT (Caroline North and South) and ex-208 DJ Mike Read, claim to have the freedom to choose the music themselves from their personal collections.

A little seagull tells us
In April , we reported that as we approached the 17th anniversary of the untimely demise of Kenny Everett (April 4th) we'd heard from a passing seagull that a TV drama was being made about our favourite DJ's life. An upcoming BBC4 docudrama had been mentioned on the Guardian Media website in March 2010, but at the time, the BBC confirmed that it was working on the film but declined to comment further. Now, a press release has confirmed the making of a 90-minute drama, 'The Best Possible Taste', based around the relationship of Kenny and Lee Middleton, whom he married in 1969. Oliver Lansley will play Cuddly Ken, while Katherine Kelly takes the role of Lee.

Factual inaccuracies have proliferated in the press. 'Kenny joined Radio London in 1962', 'his wedding to Lee was in 1966' and his TV character Cupid Stunt was 'a chat-show hostess', etc., etc. We can only hope that the completed drama will prove to be more accurate.

New film has "Genes from 'Pirate Radio"

'Radiostars' is a newly-released French comedy about talk radio. The Hollywood Reporter says: "Director Romain Lévy admits the film's ancestry includes Good Morning, Vietnam, Pump Up the Volume, Talk Radio and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, while genes from Pirate Radio are in the mix."

A treat for Fluff Freeman fans
Alan Jones (of Record Mirror/Music Week fame) has alerted Alan Freeman fans to an entire Pick of the Pops recorded from The Light Programme in 1964. Not all of the music has been edited out and the recording includes several obscure releases that don't even get played on Oldies Project! (Thanks to Jon Myer)