More news... Current Happenings Page 2
Has Svenn found the Olga Patricia?
Radio England expert Svenn Martinsen writes from Norway:

At last we seem to have come nearer the solution around the many questions surrounding the "The Radio Rose of Texas", the Olga Patricia, as my research in this matter has had significant progress.

I am pleased that one of my many correspondents, Ben Miller of the publication Bay Weekly, Chesapeake Bay, Reedville, VA, found the story so far to be so interesting he wrote a magazine article about it. I am very pleased of Ben's well-written and interesting article. I hope it will bring forward even more information.

The Day the Beatles became Fab Chart-toppers
A new exhibition follows the Beatles around Liverpool on Tuesday 19th February, 1963.

London photographer Michael Ward had been commissioned by 'Honey ' magazine to capture the band in their hometown. At the time, he had no idea who they were. He also had no notion that as he snapped away, the charts were being compiled. The Fab Four's second single Please Please Me would later that day be confirmed as their first number one.

Ward's Beatle photographs can be seen at London's Square One Gallery until 4 March 2008. If you have £450 to spare, a limited-edition boxed set of the photos is also available from Genesis Publications. Full story here.

Teenage Epitaph
A tombstone now marks the final resting place of John Peel in St Andrew's Church, in Great Finborough, Suffolk. The former Perfumed Gardener John, who died in October 2004, had specifically wanted his epitaph to bear the words "Teenage kicks are hard to beat", the first line of his favourite Undertones' song. John's widow Sheila revealed to the Daily Telegraph that the family "wouldn't have dared" put any other inscription on it! She explained that the delay was partly due to having to allow the ground to settle for a year before a stone could be placed on the grave.

"Then it took a long time to find a traditional type of York stone I knew John would like. I didn't want to have anything modern. A stonemason friend did the work."

The Telegraph feature cites other epitaphs and is asking readers to contribute their own preferences. (Thanks to Jon Myer)

Eddie has a lot to answer for!
On the Ha'penny Pier at Harwich last August, Eddie O'Konnor made the terrible admission that he was responsible for publishing The Tony Blackburn Joke Book.Not only was Eddie responsible, but he sent us a launch photo to prove it! He writes:

Great to view myself in What's Happening! If Tony contacts you he will remember me as Roy Eve - my real name not stage name - and the company was Everest Books. We also published the famous Rosko's 'So You Want to be a DJ' and Johnnie's 'Pop The Question Quiz Book' – we do not mention 'David Hamilton's Beauty Tips For Women' as that is a step too far!!

A bit of interest was that the Editorial Director at Everest (I was Sales and Marketing Director) was the now-millionaire author Ken Follet. Did Blackburn's Joke Book contribute towards Ken Follett's literary sucess – I leave it to you to decide!

My Hometown
John Bennett, aka Sloopy John B, who specialises in building models of the radio ships, is a collector of different versions of the PAMS 'My Hometown' series of promos, known to Big L listeners as 'London My Hometown' and also released as a single by the Chantelles. John says:

The Hometown songs set in motion a train of thought, and eventually this led to me thinking that Big L and Britain Radio/SRE, were perhaps the only two offshore stations that paid for a personal PAMS package.

Eventually I got around the world and began to think about Radio Hauraki, which had the usual collection of nicked PAMS, home-made and assorted jingles like most of the offshore stations.

The home-made jingles came in useful for Hauraki, considering some of the place names in New Zealand:

'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu', which translates roughly as The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, (should have joined Big L's Knees Club!) the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his flute to his loved one.

It's a Maori name for a hill, south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Now, had Radio Hauraki ordered a PAMS jingle package, the result would have been something like the attached sound file!

Burn Baby Burn!
From the department of 'It's a wonder it hasn't happened before'...

91.7 FM KOOP, a community radio station in Austin, Texas has been torched, allegedly by disgruntled volunteer broadcaster, Paul Webster Feinstein. Feinstein told police he was upset because his chosen playlist for his overnight internet jazz programme 'Mellow Down Easy' had been amended.

KOOP has suffered two previous fires in the past two years, the first of which was ruled accidental. The second, which forced the station to move to a new location, was caused by a malfunctioning heating system in nearby premises.

The unfortunate station is now back on the air.

Cue Arthur Brown, the Move and John Otway!

See full story on MSNBC and Life imitates Rex Bob Lowenstein

Thanks to Fab Alan Field

Beam us up, Wack!
US space agency NASA marked its 50th anniversary by transmitting Beatles' track 'Across the Universe' via its Deep Space Network. It was the first song ever beamed into space. Fab Four fans were invited to participate by playing the song at the same time, midnight GMT on Monday February 4th, which marked forty years since the track was recorded at Abbey Road Studios.

'Across the Universe' first appeared in 1969 on the album No-One's Gonna Change Our World, sold in aid of the World Wildlife Fund.

"Well done, NASA," said Sir Paul McCartney. "Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul."

The spacecast is also a fitting tribute to the crew of the space shuttle Columbia, as February 1st was the fifth anniversary of the tragic loss of the craft.

Links: Story on BBC News; NASA website; 'Universe' lyrics; No Rock and Roll

In other Fab Four news...
A long-awaited four-star Beatles-themed hotel has opened to coincide with Liverpool's City of Culture year. The Hard Day's Night on North John Street, is decorated with original artwork by acclaimed Beatles' artist Shannon and a new collection of Fab Four photos.

The hotel is close to the Cavern Club mark II and many Liverpudlians must be furious to think that neither the original Cavern nor Brian Epstein's music store were regarded as worthy of preservation for posterity.

Links: Story on BBC news; Shannon's personal site ; Hard Day's Night website

Duncan's on the cover of...
...No not The Rolling Stone, but ‘The Parkinson’, the Winter 2008 edition of the quarterly colour magazine of the Parkinson's Disease Society. Duncan Johnson is both the cover star and the subject of a two-page colour spread. It's a good feature, although I was not impressed by the description of the Galaxy as a 'boat'!

Duncan says:
"Katie Moss, the editor, was most insistent that I have a photo taken whilst checking out some new releases in a record shop. I said I have never bought a record in my life  If the promo man didn't provide one, it never got played! Katie was also too young to understand some of the tales I was prepared to relate!"

There were times in those days when the Galaxy was referred to as more than a boat, which would include some colourful adjectives when uttered by certain individuals!"

Thanks to Duncan and Jon Myer.

Websites devoted to Fab Forty Artistes
Rosemarie Edwards says "I have just found your wonderful web site. I am a web designer and represent Mark Wirtz and Tony Rivers. Would it be possible for you to add the URLs?"

Mark's site:

Tony's site:

'Pop Britannia - the Sixties'
Seen recently on BBC4, 'Pop Britannia - the Sixties' featured a sprinkling of Knees Club members and included a promo by David Bowie for 'Love You Till Tuesday'. Nobody recorded promos in those days. Bowie was virtually unknown and the single was only a hit in the Fab Forty (and maybe on the other offshore stations). But someone went to a lot of expense to film a colour promo for it! Was it made for the cinema? We may never know.

Rod Allen (Rodney Bainbridge)
31 March 1944 - 10 Jan 2008

The Fortunes' own website has announced the extremely sad news of the death of their founder Rod Allen, aged 63, after a short illness.

Rod (second from left) leaves a wife Margaret, a son Leigh, a daughter Sharon and three grandchildren. His family were with him when he passed away at his home in Coventry.

Rod had been fronting the Fortunes as their lead vocalist and bass guitarist since they began playing in Birmingham in 1963 and they are still a massively popular act. The band, of course, is renowned for its offshore radio connections. They recorded the Radio Caroline signature tune (their second single) and were managed by Radio City's owner Reg Calvert, until his death in June 1966. (See Tom Edwards' contribution, below.)

The Fortunes were also members of the Knees Club and joined at Wycombe Town Hall in February 1966. Rod was member #86.

The Fortunes played at a 2004 reunion in Southend celebrating the 40th anniversary of the launch of Radio Caroline. Caroline North DJ Gord Cruse, who attended the reunion from Canada, said he was thrilled to be able to sing along with the band to his station's song! He took a Fortune's CD home with him and plays it regularly when on the road.

Rod's band spent many weeks in the Big L Fab Forties in 1965 and 1966 and reached the Top Ten four times. They first arrived in July '65 with 'You've Got Your Troubles', which peaked at #2 and spent 7 weeks on the chart. The Fortunes returned in October with 'Here It Comes Again' and were resident for another 7 weeks, peaking at #3. In January '66, 'This Golden Ring' hit #4 and saw the band enjoy another six weeks in the Fab Forty. When 'You Gave Me Somebody to Love' was released, they were obliged to share the #5 slot in the Radio London chart with another version of the song by Manfred Mann. The Fortunes were back in the Fab Forty in September '66, with 'Is It Really Worth Your While' and they enhanced the final Fab, 6th August 1967, with 'The Idol', charging straight in at #18.

Songwriter Chris Andrews, wrote in the Fortunes' website book of condolences (which is open to all): "The music business has lost one of the all-time great voices. The best version of any of my songs was the Fortunes' version, of 'Our Love Has Gone'. Rod's voice had so much feeling. He will be missed so much."

The website states that the Fortunes intend to carry out Rod's wish that they should continue to perform. They will find this a heartbreaking experience, as will their loyal followers, but somehow they will manage to follow the showbiz tradition of 'the show must go on'.

Mary Payne

Colin Nicholls (who kindly scanned the 'Caroline' single, right,) writes:
Thanks for the latest news – sad though there is. The ranks are thinning. Being one of the oldest – if not the oldest – I wonder sometimes why I'm still here!

Tom Edwards writes:
I am so saddened by the news of Rod Allen's death. My connection with The Fortunes goes back as far as 1963. I only saw them just over a year ago at one of their gigs, and they were great. We chatted about Reg Calvert and Radio City and of course 'You've got your Troubles' was our SOS signal if we had a problem on Shivering Sands. Rod told me none of the guys ever went out to the towers, which was something I didn't know.

It was sad about the death of the Double D, Dave Dennis too. He was cremated in nearby Grantham and had I known in time, I would have gone to pay my respects.

Two bits of my past are gone now. That saddens me as it has done so many others.

David Neil Spence (Dave Dennis)
1937 - 2007

With great sadness, we announce the death in December 2007, of Dave Dennis, who was with Radio London from the launch in December 1964 and stayed for two years.

The funeral took place at Grantham Crematorium on Monday January 7th.

A full obituary, report of the funeral and tribute page, which is still receiving contributions, is here.

Tony O'Reilly
Hans Knot says:
"I was informed that just before Christmas one of the former Voice of Peace deejays, Tony O'Reilly, died on December 20th at the age of 73."

Hans has included an obituary for Tony in his January 2008 newsletter (see below).

Rob Leighton
Peter Moore says:
It is with shock and deep sadness that I announce the death in the early minutes of January 17th of my good friend and Caroline broadcaster Rob Leighton."

A full obituary for Rob is on the Caroline website.

New Grandson for Steve
It's nice to be able to report some happy news and to offer congratulations to Caroline's Steve Young and his wife Trish who are delighted to have become grandparents for the second time. They say:

Here are some photos of the "newest addition" to our ever-growing family. Our daughter Heather gave birth to a son at 12:55am on January 06, 2008 weighing in at 8 pounds 10 ounces. Both mother and son are doing very well. The baby's name is still not 100% finalized but most likely to be either Noah, or Jackson Samuel Roberts.

Needless to say both Grandparents are extremely well and are very pleased with their New Year's gift.

Pictured, is granddaughter Lily, cradling her new brother.

A Camping Stove that plays discs!
Karl Wellings writes:

Six months ago I went to a car boot sale and bought a camping gas stove. Well, that is what I thought it was till I got home and took it out of its leather case. It was in fact some sort of old radio. I didn't think much of it at the time, just threw it in the garage for when I do a car boot. It was only cheap, so what the hell, I would get my money back. But when recently sorting out the junk in my garage, I found it again. I looked on ebay but nothing listed, then looked on Google, which brought very little answers up. I now know what it is thanks to you! It's a Bush Discatron and it's in very good condition, all complete in leather case except I think it's missing its needle. It's the same model as the one on your website which was a prize in a competition in 1966. I haven't got a clue what it's worth, except I believe they are very rare. It would be great to get this piece of history working again. Thank you for your website and the time an effort you put into it.

New Additions to Offshore Echoes' Themes
Chris Edwards reports

I'm in the process of updating my offshore themes web pages, and have found some themes that were on our missing list:

Freddie Ryder, studio engineer and at Caroline House - and pop singer - released a number of records in the 1960s. This is one of them:
"Man of the Moment / My Block"

Ian MacRae's theme:
'Don't shoot the Ref' – John MacLeod's First XI

Caroline Cash Casino theme:
Hallelujah Time – Woody Herman

I got the above fairly cheaply from  who also have some other missing themes, although most are more expensive.

Ronan was Speechless!
On Monday December 3rd at the annual Patrons' Lunch, the Radio Academy of the UK honoured offshore pioneers for the second time in one year. Ronan O'Rahilly was given a standing ovation when he was awarded an Academy Fellowship in tribute to his role in revolutionising radio in the UK. The presentation was watched by some of his former watery wireless employees, including Johnnie Walker and Tony Blackburn.

There has been some speculation as to why Ronan did not give an acceptance speech when he was awarded his Radio Academy Fellowship. However, when the Radio London webmasters offered their congratulations to him, Ronan admitted that the award had left him speechless! He seemed both amazed and amused at the subterfuge that had been used to get him to attend the Patrons' Lunch without his discovering the true reason behind his invitation, and likened it to a CIA operation!

See a full list of new inductees on the Academy's website.

Ronan with Johnnie
(photo: Alan Hardy)

Martin's Top of the Pops - again!
Remember our story from 2006 'Amongst the firmament of former presenters on the final Top of the Pops, is Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio's very own superstar, Martin Kinch – bottom right of picture'?

Martin now appears in a similar photo on page 157 of the book "Top of the Pops: Mishaps, Miming and Music", an interesting compilation of some of the stranger occurrences on the long-standing TV chart show.

Click on the book for purchasing information.

Many thanks to Martin for the pics.

A Great Christmas Special

Here's some nice feedback from the Oldies Project Christmas Special. Between Friday, December 21st and Monday December 24th, The Oldies Project played over 1,000 UK single releases from 1967, in their Christmas Special 'The London Sound - the final months'. (Download the playlist here.) Below is a very enthusiastic message of thanks, received from Peter Sevenster in the Netherlands.

Dear Chris & Mary and all involved with Oldies Project,

It's the time of the year to pass my compliments to the Oldies Project team. You bring happiness and lot of enjoyment in my home with all those fabulous tunes throughout the day. Especially the "Back from the watery grave" and the "Forty years ago" specials are really outstanding! I've listened as much as possible to the 1967 special and I can hardly wait for the FAB 40s starting again in January!

Let's face it, this is not just nostalgia, but DISCOVERING the real sixties! What a lot of great obscure tunes I hear for the first time. Especially for me as a dedicated Sixties lover, these songs should have deserved more attention in those days. Therefore the Top 40 lists then should have been extended to a Top 100 survey to give these forgotten songs the chance to get their rightful place in the lists! But it's great they get the recognition now instead of long been forgotten, thanks to Oldies Project!

I herewith like to wish you all the best for 2008. And keep up your great work for many years to come!

'Pirates Waive Goodbye...?'
Tony O'Neil has some suggestions for spending any cash you might have received for Christmas:

We have just launched the 'Save the LV18' campaign and will hopefully be able to raise the £150,000 to keep this classic Lightvessel in her home port of Harwich.

Following the great success of the 'Pirate BBC Essex' broadcast in August, we have pleasure in announcing that the new DVD film, 'Pirates Waive Goodbye....?' was released on Friday December 7th 2007. It's 108 minutes long and is available at – price £15.00 incl. p+p - OR by mail:
'Pirates Waive Goodbye...?', THE HIGH LIGHTHOUSE, HARWICH, ESSEX, CO12 3HH. Cheques payable to 'LV18'.
The film includes an exclusive interview with Johnnie Walker, our new Patron of the charity.

In addition we are releasing 2 further DVDs of this year's event. 'An Audience with the Pirates' – Highlights of three afternoons at the Electric Palace Cinema, Harwich. Price: £11.00 incl. p+p and '40th Anniversary Pirate Party' – Highlights of the two party evenings at the Park Pavilion, Harwich with Johnnie Walker, Dave Cash and Emperor Rosko. Price: £11.00 incl. p+p.

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