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David Cummings 1934 - 2011

We were very sorry to learn early this year that David, who wrote the lyrics to Kenny and Cash's 'Knees' died on September 25th.

In 2007, David contacted me from his home in Australia and we exchanged a few 'knee-mails' on the subject of the Kenny and Cash single, how he came to write it and how the 'A' side became the 'B'. After so many years, I was pleased to discover the identity of the song's mystery writer. David was absolutely delighted to know that it was still remembered and even played occasionally.

Unsurprisingly, 'Knees' was not the epitome of David's career. He was a very funny and gifted writer with an amazing CV, having penned for shows fronted by celebrities like Rolf Harris and Lulu and for top comedic talents Dave Allen, Stanley Baxter, Kenneth Horne and Dick Emery. David was head writer for the Dick Emery Show, for whom he created the famous 'street interview' scenes featuring Dick as 'randy Mandy' and 'Hello honky-tonk Clarence', etc. So many people enjoyed his work, without even realising the name of the scriptwriter.

When Kees Brinkerink recently sent his latest 'wants' list of missing singles to include in his Oldies Project feature '45s from 45 Years Ago', on the list was 'Rubber Rabbit' by David Cumming. My immediate thought was that a song called 'Rubber Rabbit' was very unlikely to have been written by anyone other than the 'Knees' man himself. David's widow Patricia confirmed this.

"We played 'Rubber Rabbit' at David's funeral; it was a special request of his. It only ever sold three copies and he wanted to go knowing more than three people had heard it! I'm happy to report that his knees were intact to the end.

I will be bringing over his ashes to scatter on Hampstead Heath in May 2012."

Patricia has very kindly arranged to send us an MP3 of 'Rubber Rabbit' for Kees to add to his collection. This means that a lot more people will hear the song via both the link below and via Oldies Project, which is a fitting tribute to David, his great talent and sense of humour.

The last time I heard from David was January 2010, when he wrote his opinion of 'The Boat that Rocked' aka 'Pirate Radio'
"I hated the Pirate Radio movie. So much I can’t even remember its name. Not funny, not serious. Not sexy. Just uuurgh! And the ending was so silly, I threw the cat at the set.
Another reason to hate Richard Curtis  - apart from the fact he is so successful. He bombed with this one though. Hooray. David

Mary Payne

Read David's story of writing 'Knees' here.

Click here to listen to 'Rubber Rabbit', courtesy of Patricia Cummings and David Piggin.

Keith St John drives the car bearing the Radio London name

Same vehicle, different paintwork

Any takers for the Radio London racer?
Radio London's famous racing car, which was driven during that era by Keith St John, is up for sale, because its owner Michael Henderson is retiring from racing. The car has long-since ceased to be painted purple-and-white and has seen a few more modifications over the years.

Newspaper clippings on the Big L racing events is in Mini-memories and a full feature on the car, an Elva-BMW Mark 7S, and Team Radio London with many more photos, is on the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.

Photos courtesy of Michael Henderson

Norm St John (no relation to Keith) says:
"What a lovely car, but sorry, I bought a new car last Monday!" Very nice it is too.

Overseas Pirate Radio Stories
Radio stories from Melbourne, Australia (thanks to John Preston)

Syracuse, New York
(the town that gave us Bud Ballou.)

Jelle uncovers unexpected Galaxy link
Jelle Boonstra of jingleweb writes:

First of all I would like to compliment on your suberb Radio London site. We are the Society of radiojingles and themes from The Netherlands and we believe a new item on our website will be of interest to Radio London fans.

I recently discovered that the Dutch navy used the Admirable Class minesweeper between 1954 and the late eighties - the same type of ship Radio London used. The ships were used for blast experiments in the 1990s, and they were ripped apart. Some heavy footage for every Radio London fan! I tried to trace some of the last existing Admirable ships in the world, and it is quite amazing where some of them ended. It's all Dutch, I'm afraid, but you can grasp what it says by pushing a Google translating button.

That is what we did and below is the result, but we have edited it from the Google translation into much better English. Congratulations to Jelle on discovering this unusual link to the mv Galaxy and sharing a very interesting feature.

This feature is not about jingles or tunes, yet it has much to do with the subject. Jingle fans admire Radio London, the offshore station (1964-1967) that brought the US pop format and PAMS jingles to Europe. London broadcast from a former US navy ship from World War II, the 'Admirable Class' minesweeper USS Density, AM218, renamed MV Galaxy. There were 123 identical Admirable Class ships built. Moreover, there were 'twin brothers' the 'Class Patrol Craft Escort' (the PCU), built almost to the same basic design. However, the PCUs were constructed after the war and housed a heavier armament to protect convoys. This small fleet of 180 ships has a special story to tell. First in a book shop in Bredevoort I saw a picture that an old sailor proud had framed. I thought at first it was the MV Galaxy in the port of Den Helder. In the same picture, there were three other similar vessels in the background. After I search I discovered many other pictures.

In 1954, the Netherlands received six of these PCU ships as a gift from America, for the Dutch Navy to use as a coast guard, because the Germans had destroyed or looted most of the Dutch naval vessels. Some ships were patrolling the coasts and in the port of Den Helder for thirty years and they were iconic for decades. Why is it that none of the offshore radio fans noticed?

The six frigates F817 to F822 formed the predator class and that explains the names they received: Her Majesty the Wolf, Ferret, Stoat, Fox, Panther and Jaguar. They were lined up in a row in the yard and they were there numbered PCE from 1604 to 1609. The former Navy men who served on the ships have set up a wonderful tribute site to these ships. The pictures in this feature are used with thanks and kind permission of webmaster Pim van Wijngaarden.

Earl taught me to appreciate Tony Hancock
Rod Douglas has written a tribute to his late boss, John Dienn, aka Earl Richmond. Rod is also hoping that he might be able to get in touch with his ex-colleagues Robin Wolfe and Elizabeth Barnibas. If anyone can help, please get in touch. Messages will be forwarded.

Delayed celebration for Lorne
Congratulations to Big L DJ Lorne King, (left of photo) who celebrated his 70th birthday on February 1st in Edmonton, Canada.

'Celebrated' is not exactly accurate, as poor Lorne spent the day in bed feeling a little under the weather. However, his friend Ben Healy, (right of photo) who had planned to take him out to lunch is intending to reschedule Lorne's celebration and we hope is going to be able to take some photos for us.

Meanwhile we must add greetings to Caroline North's Gord Cruse in Victoria, celebrating on February 20th

Apologies to Kenny Tosh for failing to credit him with the photo of Ben and Lorne, which he took on a trip to Edmonton in 2007.

Happy Birthday, Tony!
Many happy returns to Tony 'Teacosy' Blackburn, who celebrated on January 29th.


Another Pirate Radio song
This time from a band called the Bloody Strummers It's a garage rock number and won't be to everyone's taste, but the lyrics strike a chord.

Let's get the power back where it belongs
Pirate radio; rebel songs

Wikileaks considers Sealand base
The prospect of operating from International Waters is back in the news again, with controversial Wikileaks contemplating an offshore base, possibly Sealand.
Lifetime achievement Award for Dubliners
The Dubliners, whose singles 'Seven Drunken Nights' and 'Black Velvet Band' were released on Philip Solomon's Major Minor label received lifetime achievement honours at this year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Salford, on February 8th.

Not surprisingly, with Philip Solomon as Radio Caroline's controlling shareholder, The Dubliners' records featured heavily on Radio Caroline and went on to make the national charts.

Founder Barney McKenna is still fronting the band he formed in 1962 although sadly, he has outlived many other members.

Band website

Rosko climbs aboard the Able Soul Train
Hotfoot from his shows on Jazz FM over the festive period, Emperor Rosko has appeared with presenter Lee Vincent on Pontypool-based station Able Radio's show, Able Soul Train. Rosko was keen to help promote the community station, which he believes is "showing empowerment" for disabled people and he is discussing becoming a regular presenter on the station.
The Emperor gave up his European Empire to return home to America and become a carer for his father, Hollywood producer Joe Pasternak, who was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. It is through caring for someone with a disability that Rosko became aware of the work of Able Radio, which is the UK's only live station broadcast for disabled people by disabled people.

(We have no idea why the South Wales Argus thinks Radio One launched in 1964, but of course, several much more significant stations did launch that year.)

Hawaii Five-O features pirate DJ episode
tvline.com reports that the current series of Hawaii Five-O features real-life DJ and TV personality Dennis Miller, as a a bored retired talk-radio host who starts broadcasting as a pirate in Hawaii.

Arise, Sir Roger!
Many congratulations to Roger Gale, the Pirate MP who broadcast from both North and South Caroline ships and on 242 Radio Scotland from the Comet. Roger, who also assisted in the launch of Radio 270, becomes the first offshore DJ to receive a knighthood in the Queen's New Year Honours. (Yes, we know about 'Sir' Johnnie Walker, but HM wasn't involved in bestowing that particular title.)

Photo from the Caroline days: Courtesy of Roger's personal website.

News of Tom
Many thanks to Jon Myer for sharing this message posted by Tom Lodge on Facebook

Dear Friends, Some of you know that I have cancer, and so now, I want to share with you that on January 3rd I am having a CAT scan, to gather information to see whether I decide to have an operation or not. Finding out the facts. This is an amazing adventure. My whole life is an adventure. Wow! I have done so much in this life. Cowboy, arctic ice fisherman, author, gold miner, broadcaster, radio corespondent, deejay, festival organizer, drop in center manager, teaching the exploration between creativity and technology, professor, seeker, real estate salesman, pilot, author again and Zen master. I am full, I am content. What a gift. Thank you.

London Cutlass Altercation
A couple of renegades from Radio Caroline and Radio 270 were spotted in the capital recently, partying with superstar, Cousin Moosie. Moosie is seen here presiding over a cutlass altercation between Bud Ballou and Guy Hamilton to settle the dispute as to who worked on the best station.

Wintery Watery Wireless Greetings
Some of the many Festive greetings received by friends of the Radio London website.

'Have You Seen the Light?'

Tony O'Neil writes:

The new LV18 DVD, 'Have You Seen the Light?', is released! The film tells the turbulent 12 year story of the restoration and eventual opening to the general public of the last manned Trinity House Lightvessel - LV18.

Saved for her home port of Harwich by local volunteers, LV18 opened in July 2011.

See previously unreleased footage of LV18 in Portland for the filming of 'The Boat That Rocked, a wedding on board in 2004, behind the scenes film of the Pirate BBC Essex broadcasts and the Grand Opening of the vessel with BBC Essex 'live' and the blessing of the LV18 by the ship's Chaplain. All this and much more on this extended play DVD.

Price: £15.00 incl P+P Available only by post from: LV18 DVD, Flat 2, Quayside Court, The Quay, Harwich, Essex, CO12 3HH. Cheques payable to: NVWTM

You will also receive a free invitation to our 'Pirate Party Event' in 2012.

Join us on Facebook.

Best regards, Tony and the Crew

SOTS CD has some unusual Fab Forty tracks
Fans of Radio 2's long-running Saturday morning programme Sounds of the Sixties (where a certain Mike Terry of Bournemouth is a dab hand at getting requests played) will be pleased to hear of the release of a 46-track double CD.

The compilation contains a number of Fab Forty entries (some, unfortunately, not the original singles) including the Walker Brothers' 'Walking in the Rain', The Newbeats' 'Run Baby Run', Helen Shapiro's 'She Needs Company' and The Purple Gang's 'Granny Takes a Trip'. You can hear previews of all the tracks, but not all are available for download.
(Click on the album sleeve.)

(Thanks to Alan Hardy)