Christopher Gaydon – Chris Elliot
Mark Roman: Radio London DJ
When I met Chris for the first time way back in '97 I found a gentle and enthusiastic Big L fan, and as our friendship grew he told me of the days when he listened to us old farts and how that encouraged his own direction in life.
We shared a great affection for Lil and over the years which passed continued to discuss what might have been and what radio had become – a disappointment not only for us, but for so many others.
His illness surfaced a few years after those '97 broadcasts and he bore it with great resilience, but his love for Lil never faded. I will miss him as will those who have read his book and who recall the dedication he displayed during the RSLs of '97.
Ben Toney: Radio London's first Programme Director
It is so sad to hear of the passing of Chris. He was such a talented young man whose last days were so troubled with illness. He will be missed by all. If you should see any of his family, please give them my condolences.
Ben Toney talks about his involvement with Chris in the ill-fated plans to bring back Radio London.
I remember the first time I ever had the pleasure of meeting him. It was on board the Yeoman Rose in July '97, during the very first Radio London RSL broadcast, and, like many others, I had travelled out to the ship on the tender Lady Gwen to see for myself how the station was being recreated and what was going on.
Chris was a very jovial and enthusiastic Programme Director and his knowledge of both Radio London and Offshore Radio in general really did impress me. He told of me of his book 'The Wonderful Radio London Story', the publication of which had unfortunately been delayed, but luckily, the books arrived before the end of the broadcast. I shall now certainly keep my signed copy with great pride.
Chris did the Breakfast Show every morning and I can clearly remember I used to get up extra early just so that I could listen to (and record!) his shows. He regularly used to play the Nirvana song 'Tiny Goddess' which I absolutely loved, so much so, in fact, that I actually went out and bought the Nirvana album 'All of Us' from which it came.
What Chris and the others did in Summer 1997 really was something very special. It could never be repeated.
Mary Payne: Radio London joint Webmaster
Since 1967, Radio London had become a distant and very happy memory, then suddenly, 30 years later, it was back, sounding as if it had never been gone. A stickler for detail, Chris put so much effort into recreating not just the the sound, but the atmosphere of our favourite station, that it was quite uncanny to hear it again on medium wave. The years simply rolled away.
Initially, the Yeoman Rose was intended to have been anchored around 3 miles from the end of the pier, but I recall Chris telling me about the flat-bottomed vessel having to be moved into more sheltered estuary waters quite early in the broadcast. He was on the air as they sailed and was playing the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' from a vinyl copy of the Sgt Pepper's LP. The song had been banned by the BBC when the album was released. In a defiant move, Radio London, who had pipped the Beeb at being the first to play Sgt Pepper's, placed the controversial final track, which was never released as a single, at #1 in the Fab 40 of June 11th 1967. This has made 'A Day in the Life' quite significant to the station and its history.
Encountering the wrath of the North Sea, Chris watched as the stylus flew off the vinyl near the end of the track, just as the music was building into the famous orchestra crescendo. The needle fell down again to rejoin the climatic ending precisely at the beginning of the renowned extended final note, producing a sort of self-edited version.
Chris could scarcely have had a tougher job than that of PD during the Ocean Defender broadcast from London later the same year, attempting to fill a month of DJ slots and finding so many people unavailable to assist over the festive season. On December 25th, Chris ran the station alone, with the company of just crew member Charlie plus a handful of Anoraks, myself included. He was exhausted, but somehow he kept the broadcast going. We have no idea how many people tuned in that day, but we did get several emails from one delighted listener in South America who loved the programming and was connected via the net - a fairly new phenomenon at the time.
Mary Payne's diary of the 1997 Summer of Love RSL
Professional Photographer Peter Herring kindly contributed this photo
That is sad news, I well remember Chris during the Walton RSL July/Aug 97 and on the Ocean Defender in Dec 97.
Chris with (l to r) Chris Baird, Mark Roman and Vivian BarnardAll other photos © Radio London Ltd
Again we came in contact, this time when I was at Peterborough's WGMS (Hereward Radio's) AM split service, and again PAMS in Dallas and Kent providing the jingle package for the station. This was in 1992 and Chris was really helpful with all of us DJs on the station in getting the jingle package commissioned in time for the launch of the station.
Chris and I put together the DJ line-up for the first Big L RSL in 1997, and we worked together on the programme schedule, trying hard to slot in all the jocks around their availability.
He was great company on board the ship in the summer of that year and did top-quality breakfast shows which would not have been out of place on the original Big L! He was very complimentary to me on my news reading abilities during the month we were on air.
I'll think of him often, and always when I look back on the very special Summer of Love Mark 2 in 1997.
I took the trip out to the ship twice on the Lady Gwen during the RSL month, before the re-mooring later on when the sea got rougher.
I also visited the Ocean Defender a couple of times for the further broadcast in December at St Katharine's Dock and was asked to do a show from 12 Midnight until 3am on Christmas Day morning, just to give Chris a short break to get his head down for a couple of hours.
I arrived about 8pm on Christmas Eve and Chris gave me a short crash course on how to keep the music going and I took a few of my hurriedly-grabbed 65-67 compilations and learnt how to play the cartridges – I didn't have to make any announcements.
Playing Big Lil at 3am is something I shall always remember and afterwards locking up, leaving poor Chris on board alone.
What a great shame we didn't keep in touch, but he did sign his wonderful book which I often refer to:
Many thanks for all your help and support.
Keep it Big "L" in, 98
Chris Elliot 23/12/97