The archived Happenings index
November 2000 – June 2012 is here...

Earlier Stories – Page 5

In Brief
Pete Murray feature

Veteran DJ Pete Murray is the subject of a Daily Express 'Where is he now' feature

Spinning the radio dial at Harvard

Interview with the Admiral carries an interview with 'Radio maverick Robbie Robinson' about his role in Irish pirate radio.

The Admiral recently encountered The Wombat in Lanzarote. (photo courtesy of Ian)

Gambo replaces Bessie
Paul Gambaccini has been announced as Radio 2's new presenter of Pick of the Pops, the BBC chart rundown show that has been running since 1955, when the station was still called the Light Programme. Paul takes over from former offshore DJ Tony 'Bessie' Blackburn, who had hosted the show since 2010.
Trevor Dann conducts a fascinating interview with Paul.
(Thanks to Jon Myer)

Pirate Radio CD
Tucson musician Kate Becker's new CD is titled 'Pirate Radio' and includes "her musing on topics including the historic use of old ships for broadcasting".
Vinyl Sales
After the recent World Record Shop Day, Chris spotted an article in The Register on the subject of booming sales in vinyl pressings. "The comments are interesting," he says, "But it's a shame people are now calling records 'vinyls'. What? Are CDs going to be called 'digitals', then?"

Jon Myer discovered another feature in Digital Music News citing a study that a large percentage of people who buy vinyl do so solely for collecting purposes and never actually play their purchases. Apparently, 7% of them don't even possess a turntable!

Terry Bateman who works for Rega in Southend says, "Yep, it's gone totally berserk, where we are struggling to keep up with the demand for turntables! Last month we booked the largest monthly turnover in the 43 years of the company. We're frantically trying to get the 7% who don't own a turntable to own one! Digitals, sorry, I mean CD players, are still selling well!"

(Webmaster's note: contrary to rumours, Vinyl Sales is not John Sales' second cousin.)

Making the 'Bubblegum' video
The Thames Estuary sea forts are rarely out of the news these days. The band Mystery Jets went aboard Red Sand forts to shoot the promo for their song 'Bubblegum', which contains some tremendous aerial views of the forts taken by a drone. It would be great to be able to see the unedited footage.

However, sharp-eyed John Sales has spotted a video posted by the band about the making of the 'Bubblegum' promo. The band members were very interested in the history of the forts – both their role in WW11 and in offshore radio. They say the sense of isolation they experienced aboard Redsand felt appropriate for the 'Bubblegum' single.

Drones are also becoming a regular news feature. Newsnight for April 12th had an item about Sealand (which as we now know is located off 'Fenton-on Sea' - see map in next story.) The Principality was visited again by Channel 4 in Hidden Britain by Drone, Sunday April 17, 2000, presented by Tony Robinson.

Also on April 17th, the Mystery Jets guested on Channel 4's 'Sunday Brunch'. The interview starts circa 25 minutes in. Good luck to anyone who manages to find it in amongst the plethora of commercials!

(Thanks to Pauline Miller, John Sales and Alan Field.)

Luuk Meuwise photo collection
Hans Knot writes:
The Offshore Radio Photo Archive has another great series of photographs from Luuk Meuwise, mostly never published before. You will see RNI landbased studios, Veronica in the sixties in Hilversum, memories of Radio Scotland, Caroline in 1979, the Caroline ships in Amsterdam harbour 1968 with some unique footage, Radio City from Shivering Sands as well as photos taken aboard the Ross Revenge with Radio Caroline and Radio Monique in the eighties.

(Left) From the Offshore Radio Archive Luuk Meuwise collection: Caroline ship in NL. 

Big birthdays for Graeme and Graham!
Congratulations to offshore broadcasters Graeme Gill (left) and Graham Webb* (right, with a mystery band in 1965) who both hit 80 in April. Graeme's big day was the 15th and Webby's, the 19th.

A celebration of Webby's 80th birthday took place on a boat (where else?) in Sydney Harbour on April 17th.

* See story 'Spider's Family Favourites', below.

Graeme's bIrthday photos
Hans Knot and Martin van der Ven took GraemeGill out to dinner for his 80th birthday and Hans has very kindly sent photos of the occasion, including the Radio Day Award for Outstanding Contribution to Offshore Radio that Graeme won in 2011.

50th Anniversary: SRE and Britain Radio
On May 3rd 1966, a new ship, the Olga Patricia, renamed Laisez-Faire, appeared in 'Pirate Alley'. The former military supply vessel housed the new Don Pierson enterprise of contrasting stations 'Swinging' Radio England and 'Hallmark of Quality', Britain Radio. Sadly, the American 'Boss Radio' style of SRE was too much of a culture shock to British audiences who were only just getting used to the top forty format and jingles of Radio London. Six months later, in November, SRE was replaced by Dutch language station Radio Dolfijn. Britain Radio continued until February 1967 when it was replaced by Radio 355.

(l to r) Phil Martin, Roger Day, Johnnie Walker, Rick Randell and Larry Deanin London for the 40th Anniversary SRE/Britain Radio Reunion, in 2006

Fort Worth premiere of SRE documentary

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame devotes several pages with audio clips to the stations aboard the Olga Patricia and their demise

High Sheriff's Award for Hermitage FM
The success of community radio station Hermitage FM is in no small part down to the dedication and extremely hard work of Jon and Jan Sketchley. On April 8th, they were honoured to be invited to attend the High Sheriff Handover and Declaration ceremony at The Town Hall in Leicester to receive a High Sheriff's Award on behalf of the station, from the outgoing High Sheriff, Gordon Arthur. (Thanks to John Sales)

Everett Day
Twenty-one years ago, in April 1995, we said farewell to the much-loved Kenny Everett.
The Transdiffusion website has an 'Everett Day' page dedicated to our hero and another featuring Kenny's 'old Chinese Proverb' and what it actually says! (Thanks to Mike Barraclough)

270 Anniversary Tribute Station
Paul Rusling is fundraising to launch a tribute station to mark the 50th birthday of Radio 270, June 1966. He says:

"Because Radio 270  is a non-profit making 'hobby' venture now we have had to let it slip onto the back burner for many months while 'earning a living' took precedence. Some of those who we had hoped would be helping to get the Radio 270 Tribute station organised have simply disappeared to other activities. We now have some new faces willing to step in and help bring the project to fruition and I hope to introduce you to them in the near future.  We still have room for a few more however, so if you haven't yet done so please make yourself known if you wish to help."

All contact details are on the above logo.

'When Music Pirates Used Pirate Ships'
The Daily Beast carried a feature on the offshore stations.

Beatles on Spotify
Musicweek has compiled statistics on the Fabs' first 100 days on Spotify. The Fab Four made their catalogue available for streaming on Christmas Eve 2015 and The Beatles' Anthology, Volumes 1-3 music collections became available in April 2016. In the UK, 61% of listeners are under the age of 35, yet the Beatles were streamed more than One Direction, Ariana Grande or Zayn over the same period. (Webmaster's note: We aren't admitting that we've never heard of Ariana Grande or Zayn, but it seems the Fabs are still pretty popular.) (Thanks to Alan Hardy)

Produced by George Martin

Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow commented on Jack the Lad's Amazon review of the CD 'Produced by George Martin'.
"Probably one of the most mixed bags of music on any CD that I own. Its highlight has to be the brilliant Theme One, stirring memories for those of us who had to get up early to start work back in the 60s & 70s it was used as the daily opening theme for Radio One in the Tony Blackburn Era. For anyone who may be interested the BBC's very own Brian Matthew reckons that Martin had this written and one afternoon at Abbey Road after he finished recording Sergeant Pepper and before sending the orchestra home he got them to put this track down. Very possible, as it seems its introduction carries on where Day In The Life leaves off. You can make your own mind up on that".

Keith says:
"It's an interesting theory that Theme One was recorded whilst the 'George Martin Orchestra' was still at the studios after completion of recording A Day in the Life, which of course was the last ever record played on Wonderful Radio London. I do agree there is a slight similarity between the rising crescendo at the end of the Beatles song and the falling crescendo which starts Theme One. I have to disagree about it being the daily sign-on music for Radio One in the Sixties and Seventies. Until recently, I can only recall it being played in full just once on the morning of 30/09/1967 before the networks divided at 07:00. I remember thinking at the time what a waste of money it was for the Beeb to commission the theme tune from George Martin and then not use it on a daily basis. Compare this usage of Theme One with the number of times the Sonowaltz (Big Lil) and the Home Town song were played on Radio London!
On Radio 2 Bob Harris concluded his tribute to George Martin by playing A Day in the Life followed by Theme One making it only the second time I had heard the Radio One theme music on the air. Also, playing these two records one after another seemed to symbolise (to me) the demise of one radio station and the birth of another."

We've had a couple of responses to the theory about Theme One:

Peter Young writes:

Reading your piece about George Martin, I think it's highly unlikely that 'Theme One' was recorded at the end of a Beatles session. 'A Day In The Life' started recording in January '67, long before the BBC were pressurised into providing a replacement for the pirates.

Radio One wasn't named as such until July/August '67, at least 2 months after the release of 'Pepper'. On early promos for the new network, including one by Kenny, the station was referred to as Radio 247. That was still the name mentioned on air until early August.

I think Martin was commissioned to write and record a theme at quite short notice. It still sounds great though and the doctored version later used by Radio One with added phasing, was even better.

Alan Hardy agrees:

According to Mark Lewisohn's 'Complete Beatles Chronicle', the string session for 'Day In The Life' took place on Friday 10th February. So I agree it's very unlikely that 'Theme One' was recorded that early.

When reporting the recent sad demise of Joan, Princess of Sealand, the Daily Mail included the map on the left to indicate the location of the minuscule Principality. Unfortunately, the paper managed to rename an iconic Essex town in the process.

Greg Bance, who broadcast on Roy Bates' Radio Essex, suggests that the town was re-named "in honour of Harry Fenton, gentleman's outfitters and purveyors of fine threads to stylish '60s mods bobbing around offshore. ("Fenton flashing": showing off some tasty narrow-lapelled jacket lining.)"

(Right) Did Greg attire himself in a pair of these 'Spotty Muldoon' hipsters – and has he still got them?

"I'm not making this up!"
On Friday 8th April, Deep Purple were inducted to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, during the 31st induction ceremony, held in Brooklyn, New York. Rolling Stone reports that when Metallica's Lars Ulrich took the stage to induct one of his favourite bands, he was wearing a dark-reddish crushed velvet blazer. He explaimed to the audience how an odd coincidence had just ocurred:

"For Christmas, my middle son gave me this coat, and seriously, I just took the tag off it offstage and the color, I kid you not, says 'deep purple'," he said. 'Can we pass this around to show I'm not making this up?"

Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple speak at the induction. (Photo: Theo Wargo, Getty Images)

No doubt all former members of Episode Six are delighted with the news of Deep Purple's induction. The band's Harvey Shield has shared a five minute clip of the band performing 'Morning Dew' during their December 50th Anniversary reunion in London, followed by a short speech from Ian Gillan.

Blackbeard vs Trump
Are the Talk like a Pirate guys, Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket prescient, or just really lucky? Chumbucket thinks probably it's 'lucky', but he warns,

"Don't automatically assume we're *not* psychic – or at least psycho. In our 2008 book, 'The Pirate Life – unleashing your inner Buccaneer' we had fun comparing Blackbeard with blustery business mogul Donald Trump. At the time we wrote it we kinda hoped he would take offence and launch a feud against us. It'd great publicity, and it wouldn't cost us anything. We never in a million years would have guessed what the future had in store for him. If we were writing it today, it might be a little different, but probably not that much. Anyway, here's what we wrote in 2008."

Blackbeard vs. Trump
(Excerpted from The Pirate Life – unleashing your inner Buccaneer' by John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur and Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers, published by Kennsington Publishing Corp. and copyright 2008. All rights reserved.)

One was an icon of his age – a ruthless, take-no-prisoners type who terrorised merchants and moguls in his lust for booty.
The other was Blackbeard the pirate.

It seems you just can't escape Donald Trump these days. He's had his television show, his face is on book covers, he's constantly picking fights with celebrities, his name is plastered on buildings all over the world. They even named the most powerful suit in the game of bridge after him.

If there's any pirate personality who compares, it would have to be Blackbeard. He wasn't the most successful pirate ever, but he was far and away the most colorful, the most bombastic, the best known. In a world where the appearance of success is as important as success itself, that's no small thing.

Here's our point-by-point comparison.

– Blackbeard: Put burning fuses in his beard to create that demonic look.
– Trump: Puts so much "stuff" in his hair (if that *is* his hair) to create that Teflonic look. If he lit it, it would probably go up in a fireball that would put Blackbeard to shame.

– Blackbeard: Shouted "Open fire!" with a sword thrust gesture.
– Trump: Sneered "You're fired!" with a cobra-like hand gesture.

– Blackbeard: Rum with a sprinkling of gunpowder.
– Trump: The blood of the exploited working class.

– Blackbeard: He and his crew excelled at vicious hand-to-hand fighting.
– Trump: Cast of "The Apprentice" excelled in whiny catfighting. Ditto Trump and the targets of his scorn.

– Blackbeard: Named his ship Queen Anne's Revenge.
– Trump: Names everything after himself.

– Blackbeard: Paid off local officials to allow him to continue his felonious ways.
– Trump: Hangs out with celebrities and politicians to enhance his own image.

– Blackbeard: Enjoyed them, but his marriage to the sea was a source of acrimony.
– Trump: Marries them, and is now a source of their alimony.

John Crosse interview
Alan Field came across this interesting interview with John Crosse on his retirement from Yorkshire TV in 1998. John spent just two weeks as a Big L broadcaster, in September 1965, broadcasting as John Sedd - as in 'John SEDD the news!" John Crosse, had been employed by Roger Seddon in Big L's Curzon Street office, but when his job entailed spending time aboard the Galaxy assisting with administration, Tony Windsor was impressed by his voice and felt it would be right for newsreading. After receiving training from Paul Kaye, the admin. man found himself behind the microphone as John Sedd, but unfortunately, the job did not work out for him and he returned to working in the Radio London office. However, John proved that he did indeed have the right voice for the job and enjoyed a long career in TV as a continuity announcer.

Alan also discovered a photo of John from the Yorkshire Times of June 2015.

Paul Kaye and Mary Berry
On the Daily Mail's 'Answers to Correspondents' page, March 29th, sharp-eyed Dave Miller spotted an answer to a query about Paul Kaye and his role as Mary Berry's co-host on Yorkshire TV's Farmhouse Kitchen. (Click on picture for a legible version.)

Amongst our press cuttings, we have the TV Times listing for an edition of the programme where Paul made beer and Mary made ginger pop! (Thanks to Alan Field for finding it amongst our many pages!)

Radio London Racer returns to Goodwood
Stuart Aiken has kindly sent a photo taken March 2016 at Goodwood, by his brother Dick, who is a race mechanic. (Click on photo to see a larger version) The Radio London Elva appeared many times at racing circuits during the mid-Sixties, resplendent in (Roman) purple and white paint and in 2015, Jon Myer learnt that the Elva was back on the track:

"In August 2015 Dave Root got in touch to tell us that the Elva racing car driven by Keith St.John during the sixties, was back on the track in the UK having been bought from Dr. Michael Henderson by Bruce Bartell. Bruce and his son Max now race the car following a rebuild by WDK Motorsport." 

However, photos by Chris McEvoy of CJM Photography (left) prove that she appeared at Goodwood in March last year, bearing the Gareth Williams name, as per Dick's 2016 photo.

The famous car ought really to be wearing a Radio London car badge - but we're not parting with ours!

Photos of the Elva from the Sixties

Hu-llo! Join the Camp Club
Camp Coffee is now available in a 'new improved' squeezy plastic bottle and the company has launched an advertising campaign inciting fans to join their Facebook Camp Coffee Club! What a shame TW is no longer around to be its president.

Moose Around the Clock

Keith Milborrow:
I have done some research and found on the Internet that there are many radio stations that someone of your acquaintance might have worked for (particularly in the USA) in addition to 'Wonderful Big ELK'.  Just put "Moose" and "Radio" into Google and be amazed by the search results! Here's a good example

Roving Kneeporter
"Wonderful Radio London …. Moose Around the Clock"

(Left) Cousin Moosie dressed as a Kneester chicken

1966: mail via the tube
What did people do before the advent of kneemail? In 1966, they used the tube!

Beatle of the Caribbean?
From the latest edition of 'Poopdeck' The Official Talk Like A Pirate Day Newsletter:

"Don't know if you've heard this bit of news, but it was leaked last week that Sir Paul McCartney has been added to the cast of "Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales," targeted for release in Summer 2017.

Filming had already wrapped, but the directors and producer went back to film a new scene – not a re-shoot but an extra scene – and Sir Paul was quietly brought in. No word on what kind of role the Beatle will play. Perhaps something in a Yellow Submarine?

It might not amount to much, but it's a nice add for the film series that already featured Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as Jack Sparrow's father.

Guess we'll have to wait another year to see how it all plays out."

Sound Effects in Early Radio Productions
A BBC photo-feature shows how sound effects used to be achieved using "wild and wonderful props". It seems ships' bells came in handy.

A minor celebration
Without passing comment on the current situation between Tony Blackburn and his former employers the BBC, our thoughts turn to September 2017, which will mark the 50th Anniversary of the start of Radio 1. With Tony's departure, the Beeb have robbed themselves of the opportunity of anything other than a minor celebration of a major milestone in the corporation's history.

Mark Roman has sent links to 'Australian Music Stars of the 60s' a fascinating TV programme about the music scene Down Under, posted on Youtube in four parts. Unlike the UK, Australia had a huge number of TV programmes devoted to the pop scene and a surprising amount of early footage still survives. Many of the bands and singers who were huge stars on their home turf are unfamiliar in this part of the world. Some of them are international best-sellers, others, like Johnny Young, Normie Rowe and Lynne Randell are familiar to Big L listeners as Fab Forty artists. Surprisingly, there is no mention in the documentary of Frank Ifield.

Our favourite part of the programme is three very young Bee Gees singing 'My Old Man's a Dustman'!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

(left) Johnny Young appears to be serenading a dead stoat

Spider's Family Favourites
Roving Kneeporter Keith Millborrow writes:
I remember meeting Graham Spider Webb at Harwich in the Pier Hotel during Bud Ballou's birthday party in 2007 and mentioned to him that I did not recollect ever hearing him on Caroline, but had heard him at the Australian end of Family Favourites on Radio 1 and 2.

Webby (left of photo) enjoys a pint with Keith and Steve Burnham at Bud Ballou's birthday party

 What have I just found in the Radio Times online archive in the Radio 1 listings for 1st October 1967, only a day after the station launched?  Also, the guy at BBC Scotland seems strangely familiar!

Linking friends and relations round the world with records introduced by Michael Aspel BBC London
Dick Norton B.F.B.S. Cologne
GRAHAM WEBB A.B.C. Australia
David Lamb B.F.B.S. Benghazi
Produced by Lonny Mather
Introduced By: Michael Aspel
Top Gear with THE PINK FLOYD
'BIG' MAYBELLE and the coolest sounds around on disc
Produced by Bernie Andrews

I have included the first billing for "Top Gear" * which followed at 14:00, as I now find it astonishing that Keith West (Grocer Jack, etc) must have been considered "cutting edge" at that time!   (* NB Not a motoring programme!)

In other news
Harwich (blipitty blip!) Keith tells us the spoof Shipping Forecast as heard in the loos at the Pier Hotel (and voiced by Brian Perkins) can be found on a CD entitled 'Guide Cats for the Blind - Songs and Poems of Les Barker'.  It is the first in a series of CDs going by the same name and features a number of familiar broadcasters.

Johnnie Walker reads 'The Man Next Door's a Burglar", Dave Cash reads 'Detritus' a spoof of his 1975 single 'Desiderata' and the late Terry Wogan reads 'Have You Got Any News Of The Iceberg?'

Radio London: still in the news in 2016
Hans Knot has sent a newspaper feature for our Dutch readers, with the comment, "Even today March 4th Radio London is mentioned in our newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden."

Click on the photo to read the feature

A rather odd feature
Our attention was drawn to a rather odd feature about how the 'censorship' of music in GB was overcome by means of pirate radio broadcasting from 'fishing boats'.

It's those forts again!
One of the schemes for the former offshore radio Thames estuary forts is a plan to decorate them with street art. However, it's not clear if permission has been sought for the project, or indeed whose permission would have to be sought.

New Exhibition at Former Hendrix Residence
"On the floor by the bed, a BOAC airline bag containing Hendrix's guitar repair kit, a period TV and a pair of specially made replica Chelsea boots. "
Ed Vulliamy

Big Lil's 51st Birthday
Ian Wombat Damon and his wife Janice attended a small gathering in London to celebrate Big Lil's 51st birthday on December 23rd.

Some of the guests (l to r) John Sales, Jon Myer, Ian, Janice, Mary Payne

Royal Ruler's 208 history
Tony Prince's video series 'The History of DJ', now encompasses the Radio Luxembourg story.

The episodes on offshore radio history started with Part 6 the Birth of the Pirates, Part 7 Radio London, its birth, its staff and DJs, Part 8 the stations from the forts. The Radio London episode has interviews with Dave Cash and former Big L Programme Director, Alan Keen. It also contains a photo of Mary taken circa 1997, wearing a mock-up of the 1965 Big L teeshirt and clutching an elderly transistor radio! The offshore story concluded with 'Part 9 - The Pirates' Last Stand'.

From Ed Ryba in Los Angeles;
" Thank you SO much for this last (offshore radio) part of "The History of DJ". As the final chapter in this brilliant documentary series, I actually watched it TWICE in one sitting! It was obviously a labor (or a "labour" if you prefer) of love for ALL the pirates. I've loved what I've heard of them thanks to the miracle of tape, but seeing documentaries like this one really make me wish I had a time machine so I could be there to listen to these guys live on the air. I did it for 20 years myself under the American rules and regulations (which, content-wise, were not all that confining - I got away with all manner of things that some Program Director would have fired me for, but mine were very liberal in their attitudes toward what the jocks did). Because I was usually right on the line between what was considered acceptable and what was not, I believe that was the reason I consistently beat my competition (who were playing exactly the same music as my stations) by a factor of 2-to-1!! To this day, I'm very proud of that."

Headlines & Links
Gillian Reynolds reflects on how radio has changed during the 40 years she has been the Telegraph'scritic.

Science reveals that pop music is getting worse. (We already knew that.)

John Lennon's acoustic guitar sells for $2.4 million in California

Click here and enter your birthdate to find what was #1 in the USA, on the day you were born. (Mary's is 'That Lucky Old Sun' by Frankie Laine; Chris's is 'Buttons & Bows' by Dinah Shore) You can also establish thename of the #1 movie on your birthdate.

LV18 becomes video star
John Sales says:
"When I visited Harwich a couple of months ago, Tony O'Neil told me that he'd just registered the LV18 with film location company As I understand it, the company were initially very interested in what the Harwich location had to offer, and requested further photos in addition to the couple that Tony had already submitted. Subsequently, they arranged for part of a Music Video to be shot on board. The resulting video has now been officially released to publicise 'Speak Soft' by the band 'As it Is' and is attracting a lot of attention. Tony is hopeful this will provide a source of future funding for both the LV18 and The Pharos Trust."

You can see the LV18's entry on's website here.

Mi Amigo and Galaxy in colour
Brian Nicholls has added a fascinating 1967 colour video of a boat-trip visit to the Mi Amigo and Galaxy to his Facebook Page. It was shot by the late Andy Wright who was the brother of Brian's colleague Charles.

Roman Emperor part of Australian History
Mark Roman was surprised to discover that he was part of the official history of radio in South Australia.

Headline Round-up
Cult heroes: Tommy Vance was British radio's unsung heavy metal guru

The Never-ending Story of Israel's Voice of Peace

From Marconi and the transistor radio to DAB: the history of radio in the UK

Wrecking Crew up for Grammy!

The announcement on the left was received on October 25th. The very best of luck to Denny Tedesco and the Production Team for Grammy success.

"What the Funk Brothers did for Motown, the Wrecking Crew did, only bigger, for the West Coast Sound. Six years in a row in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Grammy for 'Record of the Year' went to Wrecking Crew recordings."

The Wrecking Crew were Hal Blaine, drums, Tommy Tedesco, guitar, Carol Kaye, bass, Al Casey, guitar, Earl Palmer, drums, Plas Johnson, saxophone, Joe Osborn, bass, Don Randi, Keyboard. The musicians featured on countless records in the Fab Forty, but you will not spot their name anywhere in the chart. They were the Los Angeles session musicians who played on Big L hits by the Association, Byrds, Scott McKenzie, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Monkees, Righteous Brothers, and many other top artists. The Wrecking Crew musicians were also the 'bricks' in Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.

The Wrecking Crew! documentary is produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of the 'Crew's' late guitarist Tommy and its release has been long awaited. The main stumbling block for any feature film of this nature, is obtaining licensing for the music. In 2013, Denny Tedesco decided to go for Crowd Funding through Kickstarter. The Wrecking Crew! surpassed its goal of $250,000 to $312,000. The movie is being distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

Ed Ryba in Los Angeles attended a local screening:
"We saw The Wrecking Crew! at the fabled NuArt Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard lon March 19th, the second (and final) sold-out night in L.A., and it was beyond terrific! I've had an e-mail relationship with the film's producer/director Denny Tedesco, for over a year. You wouldn't believe how many records Tommy played on! Denny was there with a couple of 'Crew' members both the first and second nights, and they did a Q & A session after the movie. That ran so long on Saturday night, the theatre manager had to throw us out as he had another audience lined up outside, waiting to get in!"

Ed points out that when searching for The Wrecking Crew! on the net, be sure to include the exclamation mark. Without it, search engines turn up a lot of results about American baseball.

The DVD, containing 6 hours of bonus material, is out now.

Wrecking Crew PS
Ed Ryba tells us that Tommy Tedesco, whose son Denny spent many years putting together the Wrecking Crew documentary, has another claim to fame. Many years after his death, he is still heard daily around the world on syndicated TV re-runs of the acclaimed American TV series, M*A*S*H.  He played the guitar solo at the beginning of the theme in every iteration of it throughout the 11-year run of the series.

KLIF Pirate Link Documentary
Mike Barraclough discovered a documentary about the link between KLIF and UK Offshore Radio, dated 21st March 2013.
"There is a little known story about how some Texas new car dealers and KLIF once had the British government in a quandary! Ed Wallace, the host of "Wheels" on KLIF, told this historical "Backside" story on KLIF on March 23. Missed it? Here's the fascinating story! (36 minutes)
The Best UK Record Shops
"It's a deep pleasure to spend distracted hours, among a community of musicians, vinyl addicts, and people for whom life is measured out in release dates." John Harris writing in The Guardian about Piccadilly Records, Manchester.

Tony on a Plate
Mike Terry watched 'My Life on a Plate', where vegetarian Tony Blackburn recalled his past via memorable meals.
"I spotted only one pic of the Big L studio, otherwise Caroline got the offshore clips and mentions. Many of his memories from the early 60s, include his old family bungalow and his bedroom where he made the demo tape he sent to Caroline. We came down to Bournmouth in '74 so we missed out on his early music career when he was a celebrity on the local music scene."
The art of Roger Dean
"Space was not the final frontier for artist Roger Dean, best known for his album covers for the band Yes. He went far beyond the galaxies for his fantastical images. Roger Dean: Somewhere Near Here, is at Trading Boundaries in Sheffield Green, East Sussex, until 3 November."
Guardian feature

Free Radio's Final Days
No one knew at the time, that when Radio Caroline closed down for the night in the early hours of November 5th 1990, it would be the last time that Caroline would be heard as a free radio station broadcasting from the international waters of the North Sea.
 Radio Caroline's founder Ronan O'Rahilly said at the time:
"Caroline has come to symbolise a battle for individual freedom. We are probably the last institution on the planet that is absolutely free." Adding that it is not possible to change Caroline's nautical setting, Ronan continued, "You can't create or institutionalise Radio Caroline. You can't lay down some Government's legislation to make a nice sanitised Caroline on land. You can't do it".
Offshore Echoes presents this penultimate part of the Radio Caroline story, with photos, press cuttings, documents and audio.

Stevie Wonder at the Starlite
Back in 2012, Chris Edwards, webmaster of Offshore Echoes spotted a famous local venue.

"Here's another bit of forgotten music history that has a Radio London connection. I remember Big L adverts mentioning events they were presenting at the Starlite ballroom Greenford. I didn't even know where the ballroom was until quite recently. It's in a parade of rather run-down shops in Sudbury, now likely to be demolished. See the article in Ealingtoday and there's also a Facebook page for save the Starlite."

Albertina McNeill who headed the campaign to save the Starlite was particularly interested to confirm rumours that Stevie Wonder had appeared at the venue. In October 2015, we received the following email from Jackie Farrington:

"As I lived in Sudbury Town in the 60's I can assure you that Stevie Wonder did appear there in person (starlight ballroom) I was there that night and remember it well."

Albertina tells us she has received confirmation from two other people that Stevie appeared at the Starlite, and one of them also recalled seeing Ike and Tina Turner there, but she says, unfortunately, this info is not going to be enough to save the ballroom.

Mark Roman compared a Big L show at the Starlite Ballroom on April 22nd 1967, introducing the Symbols and Knees Club favourites, the Knack. The Symbols are also promoted in the 1966 advert on the left, for September 17th, where the 'Two Top Groups' for the Big L Night must have been a last-minute booking, as they remain unnamed. Apart from the Roman Emperor, some of the biggest stars to appear at the Starlite were Them, Cream, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and Steampacket.

Mel's Offshore Career
Hans Knot has forwarded an email from Mel Howard in Canada, saying that a feature about his offshore radio career has just appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. It turns out that at one time Mel joined the ranks of EMI employees!
It's very nice to read an article about Mel, but a shame the information about the UK stations is not terribly accurate. Radio London and The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame have contacted the Winnipeg

Free Press to try and recify this.

Whitstable Cruise to the Maunsell Forts
Tris Reid-Smith sailed round the Maunsell Forts on Whitstable's Siteseeker. He wrote, "They are magnificent despite being derelict. From the shore they look like a cluster of mushrooms on the horizon. Up close they are Star Wars AT-AT Walkers, about to stride across the water, firing lasers."

The forts also captured the imagination of photographer Richard Happer, who travels the world capturing the essence of the world's abandoned places.

Radio Essex 50th
Congratulations to the guys from Radio Essex on the station's 50th Anniversary, which they celebrated early with a reunion held in the summer. The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame marks the occasion by telling the full story of the station.

Radio Essex Anniversary Reunion photo album

Sealand – Never out of the news!
Rasim Alam in the Daily Star turned his attention to the Principality of Sealand – but he didn't mention Homeland Security!

Another Sealand story, written by Andrea Man, popped up on September 2nd, the anniversary of the occupation of Roughs Towers in 1967.

(Left) Mike Barrington is Sealand's Homeland Security Chief

Now Michael Bates, aka Prince Michael of Sealand, has published a book relating the history of his family's principality.

'Holding the Fort' uncovers the truth behind Michael's kidnap by armed terrorists, his family setting up their own island nation, government sieges, top secret government documents and multiple attempts to bring an end to the Sealand dream. It includes previously unseen photos from his family's personal collection.

Hans Knot has penned a full review. Hans had a personal interest in the book, as once, he had been instrumental in securing the release of a Dutch national who was being held hostage on Sealand.

Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow remarks, "It is quite a good read, but it does contain several inaccuracies. Did you realise Radio Caroline had an office in Curzon Street?"

Timely release of new Peel book
'Goodnight and Good Riddance – how thirty-five years of John Peel helped to shape modern life' by David Cavanagh was a timely release for October, the month of the anniversary of John Peel's death. 'Goodnight and Good Riddance' has received numerous positive reviews.

Guardian Review

How's This For a Catalogue Number?
Sharp-eyed Kees Brinkerink spotted this single which, being release number 40 on the FAB label, is catalogue number FAB 40!

Amazing Caroline Artefact! The 'Buoy-O-Boy'
More info has arrived concerning George Hare's Caroline Buoy-O-Boy!
– 'Your cradle on the waves' with details of a children's competition from the summer of 1965. The main judge was His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Sir Ronald Herbert Garvey, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., M.B.E. – which is the Manx equivalent of asking the Queen to be a competition judge!

Mary and Moosie were permitted to try on this Amazing Caroline Artefact, which has been languishing in George's garage. It made them jump for joy! (Jumping photo: Jon Myer.)

We hope they keep the Shipping Forecast
The Harwich and Manningtree Standard reports a major facelift planned for the 150-year-old, listed Pier Hotel. Those who have visited the loos in the Pier will have been entertained by the spoof shipping forecast read by Brian Perkins that plays in both the ladies' and gents' loos continuously. We hope this won't disappear during the refurbishment. (Thanks to Keith Milborrow)

Daphne's legs are currently bemusing the gulls. Just as well they are face down and her knees remain hidden!

Radio Silent
Keith Milborrow, Roving Kneeporter:
" I recently visited Radio Silent. What was all this about? I was in Harwich last weekend (not for any radio-related activity) and dropped in on Tony O'Neil and the LV18. It was quite strange visiting the lightship and finding no music emanating from the bridge.  Apart from the Radio Mi Amigo banners still fixed to the ship's superstructure, the only evidence I could find of the recent broadcast was a weather forecast script left on the (now empty) studio desk and nearby a laminated card with lyrics to the Harwich Hometown song © M Payne!
Daphne seems to be a permanent resident in the lamp tower, although she is now quite literally legless – her legs (and more importantly her knees) are to be found elsewhere on deck!

 Tony seems enthusiastic about organising another Mi Amigo 9-day broadcast next year, again to coincide with the Harwich Maritime Festival. Roll on 2016!"

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Logo withdrawn

Radio London is pleased to note that the Games organising committee has seen fit to withdraw the intended logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after considering approaches by various parties on the grounds of plagiarism.

We were concerned by the number of friends and colleagues who immediately saw a similarity between our 'rl' logo and the Tokyo ones.

Radio London Ltd was in the early stages of discussions with IP experts about the similarity and had made initial contact with Brand Management for the Olympics.

We like to think that, alongside the Belgian theatre who made complaints and the admissions revealed by the Japanese designer, we also had a part to play in the final outcome.

BBC News said, "Logo designer Kenjiro Sano admitted copying online material when questioned by organisers, Japanese media reported."

BBC News:

Abbey Road Crossing: "It's Not True"*
The zebra crossing outside EMI's Abbey Road studios is probably the world's most famous, and surely the only one to be incorporated in a company logo.

In an earlier report, we stated that the crossing had been moved from its original location, as trodden by the Fab Four. Not so, says studio engineer Peter Vince.

"Just reading through your website, for the first time I confess, when I came across a brief article with photographs about the Abbey Road crossing. The item mentions that the crossing was moved from its original position which meant that visitors aren't at the same point as the Beatles. As an engineer that worked at the iconic studios for 35 years I can assure you that the crossing has always been in the same place, so anyone who has had their photo taken there, it is where the 'Fab Four' stood."

Delving deeper into the subject, there are strong indications that Peter is correct and the crossing was never moved, but according to this feature, a story about a change of location was fabricated by the council, in a futile attempt to discourage the masses of people wanting to take photos there.

Galen Fott posted on this Blog that he had been able to convince Wikipedia to remove the 'moved crossing' story. However, he related that his "attempts though to get Westminster City Council to retract their statement went unanswered."

Another site aiming to disprove the story.

Original claim made by Westminster Council

With traffic often brought to a standstill, in 2014, Westminster Council was contemplating employing a lollipop patrol. (Whether or not this ever happened, we do not know.)

(*Untamed track written by Pete Townshend, Dave Dennis climber in December 65)

Mary, Jenny (blue shirt) and other John Otway fans held up the traffic in 2002, when they recorded 'House of the Rising Sun' at the studios.
Our full report

More on that Famous EMI Studio
Take a virtual tour of the famous EMI studios with Inside Abbey Road. There's plenty of information about the individual studios and who recorded in them, but one vital historical fact about Studio 1 is missing. The 'B' Side of John Otway's second HIT, 'House of the Rising Sun' was recorded in Studio One on March 30th 2002.

Otway recording

Extension Plans
The studios recently were granted planning permission for an extension.

Vinyl Recreation
Recording equipment that would have been used by The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios is being used once again to create vinyl recordings.

Music enthusiast Pete Hutchinson from the Electronic Recording Company is using the machines so that people can hear what the albums would have sounded like when they were first released.

No, Don't Stop de Carnival!
Admiral Robbie Dale writes:
There is something special about these "Latino ladies" and it's not only that I love big boobs! Do you want to join me at the February Carnival in San Paulo? Pop on a 4-hour flight to Lanzarote. It's a very arousing, exciting time to be in Arrecife.

Return to Planet Ray!
On September 19th, Ray Clark returned to BBC Essex to present a Saturday morning show, Planet Ray, between 0900 and 1100. He will still be heard on Caroline, Thursday afternoons 1400-1800.

Chumbucket & Slappy reveal origins of 'buccaneer'

Amazingly, the annual saltydog sillyfest launched on Septembaaaar 19th 2002, by our friends (and Honoraaaary Anaaaarrraks) The Pirate Guys, Mark 'Cap'n Slappy' Summers and John 'Ol' Chumbucket' Baur, has been going for a lucky 13 cutlasstastic years. Technology having moved on quite a bit since 2002, the Official Talk Like a Pirate website now displays a Treasure Map marking events worldwide, but would-be buccaneers could also join in virtual parties via social networking sites. A number of apps have become available for hi-tech renegades, such as iTalkPirate which helpfully translates whatever you say into pirate and integrates with FaceBook, Twittaaaaar and arrmail to let you share the fun.

The Plundering Pair inform us that the word 'buccaneer' comes from boucan, a form of smoked meat that was cooked slowly on a 'barbecu', a lattice of green wood, in the Caribbean. A 'boucanier' was someone who made boucan.

For those pondering a present to purchase for a young renegade, Ol' Chumbucket has published a new adventure 'Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter'.

Meanwhile, Keith 'Keefers' Hampshire has sent some timely advice (left):

Old Chumbucket says:

"You need no instructions from me. You know what to do. And you know you want to. Keep spreadin' the word – and the word is 'Aarrrr'! Thanks to all of you."


Visit the previous years' arrrrchives and see what has gone afore and visit our own ITLAPD pages.

'Dinosaur' Reunion!
Howie Castle (aka Bud Ballou) writes:

I spent a few days in Syracuse recently to mark the 75th anniversary of WOLF. It was my first time back since 1982. 33 years! I saw many, many old colleagues and also spent time just driving around my old neighborhoods. WOLF now airs Fox Sports Radio via satellite and is now longer live. But there are three FM stations in the same building, including The Dinosaur (oldies!) - the station that put the event together.

The Syracuse New Times has an interview feature with three of the ex-DJs, 'Rock Around the Jocks' and for those who have Facebook, there are photos of the reunion.

Assistance please, model-makers
Jimmy Waters says:

Forty-eight years ago, I was with my mate John at his mum's flat in East Ham, London when 266 went off the air. 'What do we do now?' We both said as the transmitter was switched off.
A few years later, I was listening to Radio North Sea International and really became addicted to that.
Now retired, I want to build a working model of the MEBO II (Silvretta) I have an old RC unit and servos from a model plane (batteries are probably shot) and I have experience in working with styrene sheet. Can you point me in the direction of a suitable commercially produced hull? Silvretta was a Dutch coaster built in the late 40's I think, before being converted into a radio ship.

Any help much appreciated. Regards, Jimmy.

(We shall pass on any offers of help - Webmaster)

Focus on August 14, 1967

Keith Milborrow was in Montréal

I was doing some Internet research into Expo 67, the big World's Fair held in Montréal that year and was intrigued to learn that in recent years a campaign was launched to bring a slightly-smaller event back to Montréal to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Unfortunately it was eventually decided by the International Exhibitions Bureau that Expo 17 will be held in Astana in Kazakhstan, so Canada will have to find another way of celebrating its Sesquicentennial in two years' time. It would have been good, had the Canadians been able to re-live the Spirit of 1967 half a century onwards.
I have written before about my last day in Montréal in 1967 being the 14th August. I had left the UK with my parents three weeks earlier before Ed Stewart made that fateful announcement about Radio London closing down, so I was almost expecting them to still be broadcasting when I returned home on 15th August. As it was, I had been on the other side of the Atlantic enjoying radio stations like CFCF-600, CKGM-980 (mais oui!) and CFOX-1470. Then I flew back to the UK to find silence on '266'.
There was one particular record I remember hearing constantly on the Montréal airwaves during my visit there. This was 'You Can't Do That' by Harry  Nilsson, a  cover version of the Lennon-McCartney classic into which he incorporated lyrics from many other Beatles songs. Nilsson was virtually unheard of at that time in the UK. I remember talking to my friends about it after I returned home and assumed it must have received lots of airplay on Radio London, but the blank expressions on their faces indicated otherwise.

(Webmaster's note: Harry Nilsson's version of 'You Can't Do That' was released as a single in the UK on RCA Victor, but not until 29th September '67 - hence no plays on Big L.)

At my 'local' recently, I sampled a pint or two of Golden Galaxy beer, brewed by the BBC! Yes, the BBC or as it is otherwise known the Brentwood Brewery Company. There was no apparent connection with a certain radio ship. Sadly, the beer was not selling at £2.66 per pint, but only a few pence more!
Cheers! Keith
Roving Kneeporter who previously brought you news of 'Knee Trembler' and Purple Moose ales.

(Right) Keith enjoys a pint in Harwich with a famoose moose. He had been anticipating raising a glass of Golden Galaxy at 1500 on August 14th, but sadly a course of medication has resulted in him having to kneesort to mineral water.

More about Expo 67, CKGM-980 and its tribute site run by our friends Marc 'Mais Oui' Denis, and not forgetting the follow-up release to the single of Montréal My Hometown' is on Mini-memories 6


Many thanks to Hans Knot, who has been scanning all his issues of Pirate Radio News, the magazine that started his publishing career. The item on the left was a newsflash concerning the anticipated fate of the mv Galaxy, was from April 1971.


Tribute on Radio Seagull
Radio Seagull always reminds us of our dear friend Jenni Baynton, after whom the Radio Seagull ship, moored in Harlingen Harbour in the Netherlands, was named. Jenni died on July 15th, 15 years ago.

Chris B is dedicating the final hour of his Radio Seagull show this week (which by coincidence will end at 3.00pm) to the Radio London closedown and MEBO act 1967.

"It still means a lot to me," Chris says. "It will not be an elaborate tribute. I'm thinking of playing the first side of The Who Sell Out - with all those super duper jingles and spoof adverts - the Beatles' A Day In The Life and finally the closedown announcement and the Radio London theme tune. Unfortunately my show goes out one day too late at midday on Saturday 15th (online only, but repeated at midnight Saturday into Sunday on 1602Khz), but it is close enough to the anniversary.

Each year I never forget the day. Today I am thinking what a miserable government, to close down much-loved radio enjoyment in the middle of the school holidays and a good six weeks before the 'replacement' Radio 1. 

My page at Radio Seagull, where my first words are 'Radio London...'

All the best, Chris B.

Everyone who enjoyed listening to Mandy 'Ma-na ma-na' Marton' on Radio Mi Amigo, can listen to her shows on Radio Seagull too.

Radio Seagull can be heard online or via your mobile device 24/7 and in the north of the Netherlands, between 1900 and 0700 CET
on 1602AM and from September on DAB+.


Francis Pullen, Cambridge:
The Big L Sonovox theme will once again be playing for me at 3pm on the 14th  August. Hard to believe it will be nearly 50 years since Paul Kaye's immortal words, 'Big L time is 3 o'clock, and Radio London is now closing down'.

Thankfully, you and Chris have kept the station alive in our hearts and minds, for which I shall be forever thankful - medals to you both!

A nice story from Caroline's Peter Moore
When I knew that Radio London was going to close, I listened to as much as I could especially staying up half the night listening to John Peel.

The last day was a Monday and though there was nothing wrong with me, I took a day off work sick.

My Dad did not work on Monday. As he was a newspaper man printing the Sunday Times, he worked Tuesday to Sunday. Anyhow, he and my Mum saw no significance in my being home and just chattered and crashed about and ruined my concentration, so I borrowed my Dad's Singer Gazelle car and drove out in to the country so I could listen in peace to the last few hours, when of course I shed a tear or several.

Then I tuned to Caroline, which was not my favourite in those days. But as they were going to give it their best shot to continue, I resolved at that moment to help Caroline if I ever got the chance.

Don't have to say much more do I?

Mi Amigo – It's Watery Wireless!
Radio Mi Amigo returned to Harwich, broadcasting from aboard the lightvessel LV18, Saturday, July 25th to Sunday August 2nd. A full photo report is here. Use forward and back arrows to go between pictures. Feedback page is here.

Mi Amigo Facebook page.

The Cousin Moosie Show, with Chris and Mary Payne.
Click to see large version.
Photo: Fab Alan Field

Hul-lo! It's TW in 1951
Ever wondered what TW looked like thirteen years before he swopped his radio career in Australia for one on the North Sea? There's a photo in the Sydney Daily Telegraph (Thanks to Keith Milborrow)
Radio Caroline and Ronan O'Rahilly
Neil Delamere's Sunday Best, TodayFM, August 9th, Stuart Clark from Hot Press talked about "the most famous pirate radio station in the world – Radio Caroline and Ronan O'Rahilly, the Irishman who set it up."

Grey Pierson in the news over Don's Haitian island deal
The Guardian feature Radio ships and promises: Texas man disputes Haiti's plans for Tortuga port tells how François "Papa Doc" Duvalier instructed his Washington ambassador in to pursue an acquisition – a radio ship that could transmit propaganda across the Caribbean and to Latin America. He had his eyes on the Laissez Faire. The former Radio England ship was spared that indignity, but Grey claims that the Haitian dictator granted his late father a 99-year lease on the island of Tortuga, five miles off the north-west coast of Haiti. The cruise-ship company Carnival now intends to lease the western tip of Tortuga as a private resort.

The latest offshore author refuses to write what he knows about!
"They say you should write what you know," says new author Mark Wesley. "I know nothing about bank robberies. So that's what I wrote about. Call me contrary.

BanGk! is my first novel. Three first-time bank robbers come up with a crazy plan to steal gold bullion from the Bank of England. An international crime syndicate sees the potential and comes on board. Inside help is blackmailed into cooperating. Treachery and duplicity are their silent partners.

It's a fun and constantly surprising crime caper. It sprung from an idea I had for a movie. I was writing a short synopsis to pitch to producers, but it just kept growing. I stopped and regrouped. It was obvious it needed to be turned into a full blown story."

Mark attended the Radio Essex 50th Anniversary Reunion, alongside fellow author David Sinclair

Wake, Rattle and Roll!
Congratulations and the very best of luck to Belfast's newly-launched community station Belfast 89FM. The first new radio station to open in the city during this decade, Belfast 89FM is aimed at the over-55 age group and will be playing Sixties and Seventies music only.

"Like the sound that valve radios produced back in the day, the feel of Belfast FM will be warm, with friendly presentation and a music flow characterised by smoothness, melody and an extensive selection of material."

Kenny Tosh is presenting the Breakfast Show with the great title, 'Wake, Rattle and Roll!', Monday to Friday 0700 - 1000.

Youtube clip of station launch, June 30th

Another offshore author!
Ian MacRae's new radio-related novel 'The Wilton Bay Chronicles', tells the story of two competing stations in an idyllic beachside resort town. One has a unique format, while the other is a network station playing 'The Music of Your Life'. Central to the plot is an accident-prone broadcasting executive and his illicit affair.

Ian says: "Among those who read a preview copy of this new e-book... some felt offended... some felt provoked... some felt challenged... but most had a damn good laugh!"

Remembering Daffy Don
Wednesday May 13th marked 20 years since the untimely death of 'Daffy' Don Allen. Don worked for Radio Caroline North in the Sixties and became senior deejay. One of his shows was a very popular country music programme, which for some time was also transmitted on Caroline South. In the Seventies, Don worked for Radio Northsea International and went on to join Irish stations and Manx Radio. Kenny Tosh remmbered his friend with a special Don Allen Revival Show, where various Caroline deejays talk about working with Don, on Radio Six International It is available here till the end of August. (thanks to Kenny)

Thumbs-down from Big L management re Perfumed Garden
Mike Barraclough has come across a couple of items on the net relating to John Peel's Perfumed Garden.

This blog post contains a letter to Graham Lake from John Peel about the Radio London office at first not liking the Perfumed Garden format. Graham had written to tell John how much he enjoyed the music.

John began a Perfumed Garden column in the International Times on August 31 1967. At the start of it he talks about the Big L programme and how he didn't get mobbed with the other DJs at Liverpool Street station.

51 years later...
Virtually 51 years to the day since Radio Invicta commenced transmissions from Red Sands Fort (June 3rd) plans were announced to turn the resilient Maunsell wartime defence structures into a luxury (and novelty) hotel. BBC Southeast Today also covered the story (Thanks to Jon Myer)
Chocolate and Sex
This French round-up of old TV confectionary commercials, offers blatant attempts to make sweets sexy. Many of the products are familiar, having also been sold in the UK.
Ten years of collecting radios
Chris Brisland, who in the summer of 2014, was to be found aboard the LV18 in Harwich, welcoming visitors during Radio Mi Amigo, is a familiar name to listeners of the Keith Skues Show. Chris has just celebrated several anniversaries

May 2015 marked a triple anniversary for me - 10 years of being a radio collector, 4 years since the dearly-missed Lady Julia Leigh Golding helped me set up my Wireless of the Week Facebook page, and 21 years since I became an anorak! To mark the occasion I have compiled a top ten of wireless sets, in a chart-type rundown based loosely on the style of the late great Alan 'Fluff' Freeman. People who are on Facebook can get weekly updates from this page by clicking the like button, as well as posting comments, details and photos of their own radio collections.

(Thanks to John Sales)

The charts didn't begin with Caroline/Atlanta merger
When Radio London took over Jempi Lavaert's Caroline charts in 2007, his introduction stated that the first to be broadcast was the day of the Caroline/Atlanta merger, July 4th 1964. We have now learnt that charts were aired earlier than that, both on Caroline and Atlanta.

Jon Myer of the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has a clip of TW hosting the Radio Atlanta Hit Parade and has kindly assisted us in compiling 2 partial charts from it.

Ray Robinson of Azanorak writes:

I notice you only have charts for Radio Caroline from 4th July 1964 onwards. I have a 1-hour recording on Azanorak of Jerry Leighton presenting part of a Top 50 show on Saturday 13th June, 1964.

The programme covers nos. 34 to 39 in the Caroline chart of that week. It's interesting that the Caroline chart is similar, but not identical, to the 'Official UK Chart' for the 11th June 1964.
I don't know whether the Caroline staff were using the Melody Maker or NME charts, or simply making them up themselves.

Ray has very kindly transcribed the positions that Jerry gives onto a spreadsheet, and has compiled a partial chart for the previous week, based on the positions as announced during the June 13th show.

As far as we understand it, Caroline 'borrowed' the Melody Maker charts and changed a few places around so that they weren't identical to the original. Later, they introduced a 'pay for play' system, where new releases gained places in the bottom ten.

Curious Choice of QSL
Hans Knot writes:
"Ge Huijbens From Belgium sent me this QSL from an Italian Shortwave station today."

A curious choice of QSL, especially as we can be 100% certain that 'Radio Europe' is not broadcasting from the m.v. Galaxy!

Brash rockstar-style DJs?
According to this Eastlothian News feature about Annie Nightingale celebrating four decades of being a Radio 1 DJ., "The Sixties swung to the music of pirate radio stations, with 'brash' rockstar-style DJs transmitting from boats off the coast of Britain." We can think of many offshore jocks who would not have described themselves either as 'brash' or 'rockstar-style' and nor would their listeners. TW, Earl Richmond, Paul Kaye and John Peel spring to mind immediately.

Annie Nightingale celebrates 40 years at BBC Radio 1 on Thursday, September 9, with a night of programmes dedicated to her, starting at 1900.

Beatles now regarded as Music!
The Sgt Pepper album is included as part of studies for a new GCSE music exam, which covers a variety of genres. Things are looking up! When we took our GCSEs back in the Sixties, the Beatles' compositions did not qualify as 'music' in the eyes of our teachers.

Crisis for Red Sands Radio
Red Sands Radio, Whitstable's Community Radio Station, could face closure this year, due to staff shortages.
Founder, Programme Director and former Radio City broadcaster Bob Le-Roi, told the Canterbury Times, "With a small core of dedicated key members, it's always been difficult to juggle work-life commitments with running Red Sands Radio."

Sutch still hitting the Headlines
He may have died in 1999, but Screaming Lord Sutch continues to make headlines.This Daily Mirror feature indicates that some of the 'raving loony' policies perhaps weren't quite as loony after all and have in fact become law.

Talkin' 'bout my generators – "No bus engines on the Galaxy!"
Some time ago, Roy Kennedy wrote:
"I grew up in Ilford in Essex and listened to Big L most evenings while doing my homework. I had been given a Decca 'Debutante' transistor radio for my birthday in 1964. I listened to the Final Hour whilst on holiday in Broadstairs. I recall that day as damp and cold, and how empty I felt when the last note of Big Lil faded away. I did listen to Caroline after that, and tried Radio One, but none ever measured up to the standards of Big L. They were pioneers who set the standard for Independent Radio.

I have always been struck by the similarities between M V Galaxy and vessels used by the USA as 'listening vessels' stationed  off the coasts of various countries such as North Korea and China in the 1960s and 70s. (One was captured in the 70s, the USS Pueblo, if memory serves). Were these vessels the inspiration for using the former USS Destiny as a Radio Broadcasting Vessel?

Your photos of the Engine Room throw up another mystery. The engine prominent in the pictures is clearly a British-manufactured Gardner 8-cylinder diesel engine, either an 8L2 or similar later model 8L3. This must have been installed after the war years (perhaps when she was converted in Florida), as American Naval vessels used American General Motors or Fairbanks Morse engines. Could the Gardner engine in fact be the power unit generating the power for the transmitter? Gardners were used in all sorts of applications, electricity generation being fairly common."

In answer to Roy's query, Jon Myer of the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and John Sales both found sources that state that the Galaxy had three generators: One GM, one Cummins and one Fairbanks. (Sources: 1) Gerry Bishop's book 'Offshore Radio' (P74) 2) 'The Offshore Radio Files' number 1: Radio London, published by Mike Baron's MRP Books. There is also a photo of a small Lister generator on the PRHoF. It was used at night to power the studio (mainly for Kenny Everett's benefit) which meant they didn't have to run the big generators when the station was off the air.

Having read through the section about the generators and the removal of the flywheel, in Brian Long's 'The London Sound', we unearthed no reference to a Gardner generator, so we asked Big L engineer David 'Hermione' Hawkins (right) about the mystery. He says:

We engineers of the 'Radio' kind did not have much to do with the generators other than when the electronic control gear needed nursing. By today's standards, it was fairly primitive electro-mechanical stuff on the WW2 vintage plant and early SCR controllers on the post-Miami fit-out equipment.
The main transmitter required around 80kW. power to operate at full power – or when switched to lower output power (at night to avoid upsetting the Yugoslavs whose 1133kHz. frequency we interfered with) somewhat less.
Main generator was a three-phase alternator powered by the original 'de-gaussing' Fairbanks Morse diesel power plant in the engine room. The original DC de-gaussing generator having been removed to allow this.
Secondary generator was a Cummins plant surface-mounted on the deck close to the side of the bridge (below the Flying Bridge). This, when it looked less reliable than it had been at the start, was augmented by another deck-mounted unit. This one was a Rolls-Royce / Petbow set) with a fairly regular 'shift' system of time-sharing of the use of each unit.
Finally, the studio equipment was generally powered independently by a small (perhaps 5kW.) Lister diesel plant located within the engine room. It meant that the speed of the motors in the studio equipment was unaffected by minor main diesel engine speed variations. Also, the speed of the religious programme 'The World Tomorrow' could be tweaked to run a little faster so that their tape lasted for less than the time they had paid for!

Tell Roy that there were no bus engines on the Galaxy! (I think that that trucks and busses were Gardners' main area of application).

Roy Kennedy responds:

Many thanks for looking further into this little mystery. Thank David too please, for his interesting input on the subject. He is right that Gardners were used extensively in commercial vehicles, but they were also very popular in smaller fishing vessels, passenger vessels, tugs, lifeboats, and private cruisers and yachts, which is where I gained my experience of them.

However, I have found out that they were also built under licence in Holland by the Kromhout company and used in marine applications. It's a bit tenuous, I know, but given that there were links to a Dutch company providing seagoing crew, and possibly, tendering facilities to the Good Ship Galaxy, I'm beginning to wonder if the photo of that engine was taken on a different vessel at the same time, and got mixed up with the photos of the Galaxy. After all, one engine looks much like another to inexperienced eyes!

On the page 'Removal of the Galaxy Flywheel', the very first image at the top left labelled 'Engine Room' shows what is clearly a Gardner 8L3B marine diesel engine.

Images of these engines for comparison are readily available, and on You Tube, where some can be heard running.

I hope we can solve this little mystery! Sorry to cause so much trouble!(Any ideas, anyone? Mary)

Many thanks for all your good work, let's keep the spirit of Big L alive.

Just going to pop on a CD of some old Big L broadcasts!

Trannies in your undies!
Well before James Bond got into his stride, this French news item from May 1957 needs no translation to explain the perceived potential of the newly-developed transistors for the manufacture of miniature electronic listening devices.
Evolution of Pop
A team from Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London looked at more than 17,000 songs from the US Billboard Hot 100 and found three music revolutions - in 1964, 1983 and 1991 - and traced the loss of blues chords from the charts, as well as the birth of disco. However, it would have been a much more interesting study if the study had been restricted to the Top Fifty and Billboard entries had been compared to charts from other countries.

International Record Store Day 2015
This year's International Record Store Day was Saturday, April 18th and one of the limited-edition vinyl releases was Dusty Springfield's 'What's it Gonna Be?' released originally in September 1967.

Seaweed in BH!
Keith Milborrow kneeporting:

Your Roving Kneeporter visited the BBC in London recently for a conducted tour of Broadcasting House and was frankly a little disappointed with the experience. There was a lot of emphasis on 'technical wizardry' but little attention to the history and heritage of the Corporation. Furthermore, we never saw much 'behind-the-scenes' and certainly did not see any programmes in course of production*, other than a brief glance from a public viewing area of a TV Weatherman presenting a forecast for the BBC News channel. Basically, we were shown the old art deco reception area of the old Broadcasting House, The Radio Theatre and the One Show studio, a pokey little room (down a corridor past some wheelie-bins) where there was an opportunity to be photographed sitting on the One Show sofa! In addition there were two rooms designed specifically for 'BBC tourists' – a radio drama studio and a TV news/weather studio – where visitors could try their hand at being broadcasters.
I thought a couple of things were worthy of note, but were left unmentioned. When we walked across the public open space to find the part of the complex shared by the One Show studio and Radio 1/1 Xtra, I caught a glimpse of All Souls, Langham Place. The steps outside this Church were famously used for that iconic photograph of the Radio 1 launch team, which included 11 former Big L deejays. Nothing was said about this, and nothing about the part of building we were then visiting. It was only after seeing a Fire Safety notice in a corridor that I realised we had entered the Peel Wing, named of course after the legendary John Peel.
One thing I did learn during the tour, was that during renovation of the old Broadcasting House, they found that some of the interior walls were originally sound-insulated with seaweed. This must have been an early attempt by the BBC to become a marine broadcaster!

*Webmaster's note: Would that be because they are all made by independent production companies these days?

Volkswagen Radio
An elderly VW T2 panel van called Orange is being converted into a mobile radio studio in Romania.

Radio London News: tells you more, says it sooner
Keith Skues had, some time ago, received a report from a listener that Big L's onboard administrator Richard Swainson, had died. Keith had, however, never been able to verify the information.

I was, therefore, very pleased when an email arrived from Richard on June 13 2013, confirming that he was alive and well and I emailed everyone who worked on Radio London with Richard immediately, to tell them this good news.

I then posted on the website:

"We were delighted to hear from Richard Swainson... who had been 'missing offshore' for some time. He is keen to get in touch with his former shipmates, so we have passed on his contact details to all concerned.

Following the tradition of everyone aboard the Galaxy being given a girl's name, Richard was known as Sally. Described by Kenny 'Edith' Everett as 'administrator and twit', Richard was recruited by Alan Keen when he took over the role of Programme Director from Ben Toney. He arrived aboard the ship during the first week of April 66.
The following year, he was given the responsibility of going ashore to collect the station's biggest ever scoop, an exclusive copy of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for its first airing in the UK. He has already been kind enough to share his personal recollections of that memorable occasion."?

Sadly, it appears that the shipmate that Richard most wanted to contact, Tony Blackburn, never received my email, read the story on the Radio London website, or discovered his very-much-alive pal via the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. It took 18 months for the friends to be reunited in January 2015, but finally, it happened. Youtube clip.

March 2015
Jon Myer tells us that yer Royal Ruler is the latest Tony to catch up with the news that Richard Swainson is alive and well. Jon says:
"Tony Prince posted on Facebook about a Radio Luxembourg reunion which is taking place in the Grand Duchy 3rd - 5th July. Someone asked if Richard Swainson had been invited, to which the Royal Ruler replied that unfortunately, Richard was dead."

Jon was of course pleased to be able to tell Tony that this was incorrect information and supplied Richard's contact details. Tony and Richard spoke the same day, with Tony making the comment that his old pal 'sounds just the same'.

Eurovision 50 Years ago
Young singer France Gall, representing Luxembourg, beat the UK's Kathy Kirby into second place in the Eurovision Song Contest in Naples, with the doll-related Serge Gainsbourg composition 'Poupée de cire poupée de son'. Dolls and puppets were a popular theme in Eurovision. 'Puppet on a String' won the contest for the UK two years later.

These days, France Gall refuses to perform the song and Sandie Shaw has a similar attitude to her own winning entry.

Mike's updates
Mike Barraclough has been very busy and has kindly updated several recent stories for us and added a couple of new ones.

Back to the Future?
Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow has been perusing the archives. He says:
"I was intrigued to find a list of European frequencies in use before the Copenhagen Plan of 1948, and even more surprised to find that a 50-kilowatt transmitter, earmarked 'London', was broadcasting on 1122 KHZ/267 metres." At that time it must have been a BBC service, but I find it astonishing that a transmitter was then operating only a cat's whisker away from the channel Big L used some 16 years later. Now, wait a moment, don't I recall another radio station allegedly operating on '267 metres' very briefly during 1967? I am of course referring to Radio East Anglia which overpowered Radio London during the morning of April 1st 1967..."

Mike Barraclough updates the story:
The 1122 frequency listed as BBC prior to 1948 in the list Keith found has an interesting history including an American connection.

January 15 1934 first use by BBC Belfast 1kw

February 15 1935 changed to BBC Newcastle 1kw

October 1937 Site changed to Stagsaw a few miles west of Newcastle 60kw

September 1 1939 taken out of use as all BBC programmes broadcast on 668 and 767

May/June 1944 1122 used for the American Broadcast Station in Europe set up by the US Office of War Information which lasted until July 18 1945. Broadcast from Moorside Edge, Westerglen, Rampisham all 50kw. Low power masking transmitters of 250 watts in Start Point, Bartley and Alexandra Palace to confuse German aircraft om bombing raids and prevent them getting a fix on the higher powered transmitters. The aim of American Broadcasting Station in Europe was to provide "...the truth of this war to our friends in Europe — and to our enemies". ABSIE provided news, talks, music and propaganda and also broadcast information for the underground movement. Broadcasts were made in various languages.

July 19 1945 BBC European Service from Crowborough using the 600kw Aspidistra transmitter used during WW2 for BBC broadcasts to Europe and black propaganda stations.

March 15 1950 BBC European service moved to 1340 under the Copenhagen plan, 1122 no longer used by the UK. 

Radio London made test broadcasts on 1125 and Benelux DX Club logs have their opening broadcast as being on 1124.

The first pirate broadcast?
According to this feature, pirate radio started around century ago, when a magician devised a disruptive broadcast which he used to discredit Marconi's theories. This happened during a Royal Society lecture and demonstration of radio technology by John Ambrose Fleming. This book identifies the date as June 4 1903. (Thanks again to Mike)

Everyone can spell Keynsham, thanks to Horace Batchelor and Radio Luxembourg. Thanks to the pirates, we all know how to spell 'Bulova'.

Radio London broadcast the first of its soon-to-be-famous time-checks sponsored by the Bulova clock and watch company on September 5th 1965, having won the contract from Radio Caroline.

The Bulova company produced the first advert broadcast on radio in 1926 "at the tone it's eight o'clock Bulova watch time" heard by millions of Americans. Bulova also produced the world's first official television commercial on July 1 1941, aired before a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Philles on WNBT New York. Shortly after Bulova started advertising on Radio Caroline, they produced a record sent to jewellers telling them how their adverts were effective in promoting sales. A copy of this record has recently been uploaded to Vimeo. (Thanks again to Mike)

The Eyes have it
Thanks also to Mike for telling us that Big L jingle, 'Get your kicks on 266', based on the Stones' version of Route 66 (and sounding remarkably like Mick Jagger and co.) is now available on Soundcloud. The jingle by the Eyes is heard fairly frequently on Oldies Project and comes from the CD 'The Arrival of the Eyes'.

Wombat's Knee Kneeplacement
Ian 'Wombat' Damon writes:
"Just to let you know that I have well and truly joined the Knees Club! Recently, I had a replacement of my right knee and although very sore, I am not doing too badly, having physio, etc."

On behalf of all our members and their patellae, here's wishing Ian (Club member #383) and his knee a speedy kneecovery.

A little less 'tatty'?
Thanks to John Sales for this link to an ITV news item concerning the refurbishment in Hull of the Tattershall Castle, venue of the Radio London 50th Anniversary Birthday Party.
Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow points out:
"I trust whilst the ship's way having its refurbishment (making it a little less 'tatty'?) they see fit to install a studio and transmitter - after all, they had a full broadcasting crew on board last December!"

Lorne is Alive and Well! (06/15)
Radio London is delighted to announce that a report received earlier in 2015 of Lorne King's demise has proved to be incorrect. Ben Healy had been given this erroneous information by the manager of the apartments where Lorne lived. After some research, Ben has now been able to contact Lorne and they intend to meet soon.

Ideal QE2 anchorage?
On hearing the news that plans have been produced to moor the QE2 on the Thames in London, Keith Milborrow suggests:
"Perhaps a better mooring for the QE2 would be 'fifty-one degrees, forty-seven point nine minutes north; zero-one degree, twenty point five-five minutes east' – provided certain equipment could be installed on board!

Fab Alan Field went one step further and found the exact location on Google maps. The perfect location, we agree.

Four are Fab Again
The Fab Four re-form - in the minuscule musicians of the TitiriBeatles (Puppet Beatles), operated by accomplished puppeteers Compania Periplo.
Cookin' with a Cannibal
Our friends and organisers of 'Talk Like a Pirate Day,' Cap'n Slappy and Ol'Chumbucket tell us:

The latest issue of Mutiny, the online, quarterly magazine for pirates (and the people who love and/or fear them) is out and ready for your piratical perusing!

This issue features Cap'n Slappy's tribute to pirate moms, and the first of my four-part pirate adventure story, "The Island of Bones." I hope you'll give it a read and let me know what you think.

There's also articles on pirate costume, travel, an interview with a mermaid and a whole lot more, including "Cookin' with a Cannibal" by Knotfist the Cannibal Pyrate.

Log in to read Mutiny. Go ahead – the membership is free – and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you'll find Issue No. 12.

Norderney 192 Videostream
Alex van den Hoek reports:
"A videostream has started on the Norderney 192 Radio site. We try to refresh the programming on regular basis. At the moment there is a 3.5 hour program online. It also contains a 55 minutes program, including clips and old recordings of a Radio London Big L Special we recorded at the end of December at Museum RockArt. Every 2.5 hour 24/7.

If all works out, we will be posting the old video about Pirate BBC Essex on the stream in the near future as well."

Kinky Boots!
Remember the era in the Sixties when James Bond mania reigned and all the trendy girls sported space-age white boots with a cutout design? Most of them would have been wearing cheap copies of designs by Andre Courrèges, which were shown as part if his futuristic collection for Spring 1965. (See ina.fra news feature. Circa 5:27 in) Courrèges specialised in avant-garde and his collection included white sunglasses that were impossible to see through. Those didn't seem to catch on!

Rockart Radio Day
Stichting Media Communicatie announces in a Press release that the 2015 Radio Day will return to the month of November, but with a new format.

This year's event will be a National Radio Day, focussing on the Netherlands and Belgium and thus slightly more limited in scope than previous years. The following year, 2016, a large International Radio Day is proposed. The intention is to alternate to the two types of event.
This year's National Radio Day will be held on Saturday 14th November at the Museum RockArt in Hook of Holland between 11:00 and at 18:00.
 The interior of the Museum will play an important role, centred around the restored Veronica studio. Seven well-known radio DJs have been asked to present from the studio during the day, with interviews on stage every 30 minutes. That means that seven topics will be discussed. Final details will be announced later, but the main subjects will be offshore station Radio Monique and the 50th anniversary of Hilversum 3/Radio3/3FM.
 The Radio Day 2015 is made possible by the Internet Radiocafé and

Radio News in brief
Brian Epstein plaque unveiled in Liverpool
Amateur radio based group rescues released broadcast frequency

'Dickie Duncan' heads for Las Vegas
Richard Rudin, a Liverpool John Moores University lecturer in Journalism, who participated in last year's Caroline North tribute RSL from the Albert Dock in the guise of Dickie Duncan, has won an international research award for a paper based on his experience. Richard, who has in the past corresponded with Mary over matters concerning watery wireless, has been invited to present his paper at the Broadcast Education Association's annual Convention in Las Vegas in April. Congratulations, Richard.
Radio News in brief
Costa Rican Pirates
"FM radio is one of the most requested features among shoppers of smartphones in Costa Rica."
Costa Rica Star

The 'unconventional' Southside Pirate
The Southside Pirate, a Fort Worth-based Internet radio station dedicated to playing only local music, has been granted a community radio licence on 97.5 FM.

Nostalgic look at Ireland's 1980s pirate radio scene.
"JOHN MOORE, the Irish director of the most recent instalment of the Die Hard film franchise, is swapping big-budget explosions for a nostalgic look at Ireland's 1980s pirate radio scene." Sunday Times.

Rewind Ron
Ron O'Quinn's weekly Rock 'N Roll Rewind Podomatic Podcast will be by subscription only from now on. Delivered directly to your email mailbox, it costs $50.00 per year - less than one U.S. dollar per two-hour weekly show
Ron says: "Thank you for listening each week and making 'Rewind' the most listened to oldies podcast! I have a lot of money invested in buying my music. I have thousands of songs and I bought them all. I also have many dollars in equipment costs. If you are interested in subscribing, please email me."

Ben progressing well
Ben Toney's daughter Raquel, who lives in the UK, sent us news that unfortunately, her father had been admitted to hospital in December. On January 15th, Raquel reported that Ben is in a rehabilitation centre and is having physio to get his strength back up. Staff are pleased with his progress. Raquel speaks to him every day and is going over to visit him in the 2nd week of February.

We are sure that everyone will join us in wishing Ben well and will all be sending him positive thoughts.

Oh Won't You Stay? Answer to question posed in 2002!
2002 seems to be the year of the moment! In that year in our Minimemory pages, John Fisher of Ipswich posed a question.

After Big L's closedown on August 14th, John, who was recording it in Winchester, Hampshire, heard another transmitter power up, play the Hollies' line: "Oh won't you stay – just a little bit longer". After that line, it too went off the air.

I've always maintained that if something is on the Radio London website for long enough, someone will respond. 14-odd years is quite a while to wait, but in January 2015, we received the answer to John's question from Alan Stroud on the Isle of Wight.

"The transmission came from a friend's house here on the Isle of Wight. I can't believe that there is a recording of it in existence! And there lies the problem. I would love to hear it but the link to John's website no longer works. I have googled John Fisher of Ipswich and sadly, it appears he died recently (that's if I found the right person.) I have been on the Wayback website who do have many of John's pages cached - but not that one!
You wouldn't have a copy of John's audio would you? It would surprise, delight and astonish several people here, including the guilty party!"

'Oh Won't You Stay' – requested recording found in under a week!
Mike Corrigan who resides in the place that everyone knows how to spell – KEYNSHAM – has very kindly sent a copy of John Fisher's recording. Mike says: "Please find attached a copy, which I must have downloaded when you originally mentioned it in 2002 and which, coincidently was around the time we were in contact regarding Chuck Blair. Where have all the years gone?" (As a keen family history researcher, back in 2002, Mike lent his skills in the search for the enigmatic Chuck.)

Alan Stroud was amazed at Mike's fast response:
"Mary, What can I say? I never thought I'd hear that again. That's fantastic! Well done. Absolutely brilliant. The Internet's not all bad is it?"

Alan describes the instigator of the inspired transmission as a very clever radio amateur, broadcasting from his home in East Cowes. We are not going to reveal his identity until Alan has hopefully located him and surprised him by playing him the clip.

Meanwhile, here it is!

"My Jaw Dropped"
Stuart Cunningham says: "I have been meaning to send this photo to you for ages, but needed an 'expert' to teach me how! It's on a refurbished building just by Gloucester railway station and my jaw dropped when I first saw it!"

"It all looks funny in black and white"
This year's inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, include Ringo Starr. Surprisingly, it has taken till 2015 for Ringo to fill his place alongside the other three Beatles. John Lennon was inducted posthumously in 1994, Paul McCartney in 1999 and George Harrison, posthumously, in 2004.

In a somewhat rambling sentence, Ringo says, "This means recognition to me. And it means, finally, the four of us are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, even though we were the biggest pop group in the land, though now it all looks funny in black and white."

The induction ceremony took place at the museum in Cleveland, Ohio on April 18th.

Guitarist Randy Bachman Demystifies the Opening Chord of 'A Hard Day's Night'
"You could call it the magical mystery chord. The opening clang of the Beatles' 1964 hit, "A Hard Day's Night," is one of the most famous and distinctive sounds in rock and roll history, and yet for a long time no one could quite figure out what it was."

Guitarist for Guess Who and (Smashey and Nicey's favourite) Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman unravelled the mystery during his CBC radio show, Randy's Vinyl Tap

(Thanks to Ed Ryba in Los Angeles)

Lambert and Stamp
In Hans Knot's April International newsletter, Ricky Michaels draws attention to a new music documentary, out in the UK in May. Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, who spotted the potential in the Who as a band and became their managers are the stars of 'Lambert and Stamp'. The offshore stations were, of course, very much instrumental in launching the Who to stardom. Ricky recalls playing the original demo disc of 'My Generation' on Radio City in 1965 and 'The Who Sell Out' album was a post-MOA tribute to Radio London.

Hans spotted that there is a very brief glimpse in the film trailer of Lambert and Stamp standing by the pillars outside Caroline House. (left) Let's hope we see more in the film.

David makes waves with memoir
David Sinclair, who now lives in Canada, has published a memoir about his time on Radio Essex, Radio 270 and Radio 390. Called 'Making Waves' the ebook is available from and the forward is written by none other than our friend Jon Myer, who runs the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.

'It brings back the sludge' Kenny Everett used to say. Alex van den Hoek has edited video footage shot by the late Rob Olthof of our 35th Anniversary Offshore Reunion on Saturday August 10th 2002 and posted it on Youtube. Chris and I had not seen the footage previously and it invoked very happy memories of a wonderful day at the Doggett's Coat and Badge pub on the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge. We thank Alex very much, as it's incredible to be able to relive that happy day and see the faces of a number of special people who are no longer with us, or are now, over twelve years later, in very poor health. We have since lost Mike Ahern, Tommy Vance, Mick Luvzit, Colin Lees and of course Rob himself.

It was the biggest reunion we had ever organised and it was extremely hard to co-ordinate. Thanks to the advent of the internet, we had encountered many of the original 'Wets' and put them in touch with one another, although in 2002, there were still many yet to be found. We picked the closest Saturday to August 14th and invited guests representing Radio 390, Radio Caroline North, Radio Caroline South, Radio City, Radio England, Radio London and Radio Northsea International.

Keefers, Johnnie, Ronan and Mike Ahern
Caroline North contingent: DLT, Dave Williams, Graham Webb, Gord Cruse, Nick Bailey and Mick Luvzit

It was to be a day of firsts. Johnnie Walker and Robbie Dale encountered each other for the first time since 1968. Their wives Stella and Tiggy had never met. Ronan O'Rahilly was persuaded to attend his first offshore reunion, as was DLT. Graham Webb came all the way from Australia and nearly missed it altogether! Webby 'popped in' to Doggett's about 15 mins before the start, just to have a quick look around the venue. It's just as well he did, for he had misread his invite and somehow got the impression that the do was in the evening! Had he not decided on a whim to pop in to Doggett's, he would have arrived after the reunion had finished. Webby rushed straight back to his hotel to change and come back! Later, we presented him with a 'Far Out' Award for being the guest who had travelled the longest distance to be there.

Robbie and Johnnie's first encounter since 1968
Radio London's David 'Hermione' Hawkins, Willy Walker, Ed Stewpot and Duncan Johnson

Keith Hampshire had flown over specially from Canada to attend and was staying with DLT. He told us how hard it had been for him to persuade his friend to accompany him to the reunion. Dave eventually agreed reluctantly to 'look in for half-an-hour', but as Keefers had guessed would happen, once he actually got him there, Dave loved meeting all his old shipmates. From the speech he gave, it is clear that Dave thoroughly enjoyed himself that day, but as far as I am aware, he has never attended any subsequent reunions or any of the Amsterdam Radio Days.

If anyone is wondering what my speech was about, it consisted of a compilation of song titles from the Final Fab Forty, that combined to put into words the sadness everyone felt about Big L's closure.


Click on the photos above to see larger versions. Our main photos of the reunion and the visit of some of the guests to Caroline House the day after, are here.

The History of Rock n Roll in 27 Minutes
Bud Ballou sent a link to 'The History of Rock n Roll in 27 Minutes' from WLS, Chicago. he says: "Many of these songs were hits on both sides of the pond, but not all."

All of the tracks topped the WLS survey, so a few of them were probably local, rather than national #1 hits. 'Red Rubber Ball', 'Incense and Peppermints' and 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' were just a few of favourite sounds that weren't well-known here, that whizzed past our ears during the 27 minutes.

It's impossible to read the surveys that accompany the music, but Fab Alan Field has found a site where there are WLS surveys from 1960 to 1982.

Keith unmasks Caroline chart entry
Keith Gunson writes:
"I've been browsing the Caroline charts on your site and I noticed a mystery regarding the chart for Saturday 31st October 1964. At Number 45 there is a song listed by the (possible) title of 'No Crying' for which you explain that there is very little information with which to work in order to accurately place a song in that position.

I've been looking through my collection of all the songs in the Fabs, the Caroline, City and even the nationals - for autumn 1964 and I've found a song by Them which seems to fit your description of the song. Obviously it doesn't prove anything, as I didn't hear the broadcast as a (then) 5 year old, but hopefully it may help to bring the answer that little bit closer."

'Don't Start Crying Now' was the first Decca single released by Them on 040964 and fits the bill nicely. Thanks, Keith!

A New Year surprise for Penny
Fred Bunzl wrote, asking to be put in touch with our friend, Penny Bowskill.

"I would like to contact her because I have recently discovered an audition tape that her late husband Jason Wolfe submitted to my colleague, David Prewett, back in 1974 when he, I and other colleagues were competing for the IBA radio franchise in Ipswich. Unfortunately, we failed to win the contract and despite a note saying that the tape should be returned to Jason, it unfortunately never was.

I'd like to rectify that error now and maybe provide Penny with a little souvenir."

Penny is now in touch with Fred, and will be receiving a nice New Year's present in the form of Jason's audition tape.

Fred is the webmaster for the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting which was a listeners' organisation lobbying for the introductions of commercial radio in the UK from 1968 to 1973.

Otway – a an indie Hit record for Christmas

Otway recorded a Christmas EP (with some assistance from his fans) and it was certainly a great improvement on 'Mistletoe and Wine', 'Grandma We Love You' (and for those who still remember it) 'All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle'. Otway took a Sinclair C5 to Lapland to shoot 'essential reindeer footage' for the promotional video! The single 'OK Father Christmas' failed to make to top 100 of the main chart, but did get into the Top 20 for Indie singles.

There is now an Otway app too, for a variety of mobile devices.

Casey Kasem buried in Norway
In Ian MacRae's latest edition of his newsletter, The Radio Wave, two of Ian's stories particularly grabbed our attention:

Radio ISS: "The International Space Station circles the Earth about every 90 minutes, and in that time moves in and out of range of a number of terrestrial radio stations. If you're curious about what's broadcasting in the part of the world the ISS is moving over, Radio ISS will play it for you."


Peter Sheridan's incredible collection of vintage radios

Sign up for personal copies of The Radio Wave, at Ian's website All About Radio

A 'pirate' for London
The above was the heading for the item on the left from 'Radio Broadcasting', dated 28th December 1964, about the arrival of the Galaxy in the Thames estuary. We have edited the story - kindly forwarded by Hans Knot – into one column. (Click on small picture to read the story)

Stephen Raindle tuned in from the outset:
"It seems amazing that it was half a century ago when the story began yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I had read in the Daily Express that a new 'pirate' radio station was expected on the air and had spent much time scanning the medium wave dial for it but without any success then suddenly, and I don't know which day it was, Radio London was there, pumping put the hits of the day on 266 metres very loud and clear in Hornchurch, Essex where I lived. I'd never heard anything like it before, the jingles, the DJs and above all the music. I recall spending as much time as possible over the Christmas 1964 period listening in to Won-der-ful Radio London. Must have driven everyone else in the household mad with it. I was 17 at the time.

Pete's amazed!
A small group of Radio London people gathered in London with friends on December 23rd, to celebrate Big Lil's 50th Birthday. We are proud to present a full Photoreport.

Talking to 'Fab' Alan Field at the Birthday celebration, Pete Brady was surprised to discover that Fab had a copy of his first show on Big L. He was delighted to receive an MP3 from Fab and wrote, "It is truly amazing for me to be able to hear that first broadcast."

(l to r) Duncan Johnson, Mich, Keith Skues, Ed Stewart, Pete Brady, Dave Hawkins, Ian Damon

Keith Skues, who arrived home well after midnight, wrote IMMEDIATELY (to quote TW) to say:

I have just arrived home. This short note is to place in a more permanent form my sincere thanks to you and Chris for organising today's get together for the 50th anniversary of Radio London. You have to be congratulated on putting together the whole event.

It's hard to believe that half a century ago today Big L made its broadcasting debut. Who would have thought that on 23 December 2014 a group of former DJs, technician and Mitch would be on parade aboard another ship to remember the great times we enjoyed between 1964 and 1967.

It was simply 'magic' to talk with those in attendance. I loved every minute of the day and was sad to have to bail out to catch the 8.30pm train back to Norfolk.

How enjoyable to talk with some loyal supporters of the radio station who have kept in touch for many years.

Thank you once again for such a wonderful day.

With kind regards and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Cardboard Shoes

We have received a number of similar messages of thanks – Mary and Chris

Cardboard does us proud
The all-important Radio London anniversary may have been ignored by the media in general but during his Radio Norfolk show on Sunday December 28th, 2200 - 0100
, Cardboard Shoes did both the station and us proud. The tribute to Radio London is 37 minutes 50 into his programme, followed by the Top Three from the Fab 40 of January 24th, 1965.

Good Memories Graffito
December 28th, 2014, Hans Knot wrote:
Today we enjoyed some very fine weather, so we decided to take our bikes out. Temperature was around zero but no wind and blue sky. We cycled around some parts of the city and took several photos. As it was 50 years ago this week that Wonderful Radio London took the airwaves, I was wondering if the painting on a shed was still there at the Gorechtkade. It was painted there around 1965/1966 and yes, like all our good memories to this station, which really brought Top 40 radio into Europe, the shed is also still there. Greetings, Hans."

(Thanks to Hans for sharing the photo. Happy New Year, Hans!)

Skuesvisit to Amsterdam
Hans Knot has had a very busy time lately, playing Sinterklaas to 35 families living under the poverty line. (He has to wear a false beard these days, though.) However, Hans managed to find time to send us a photo when he was joined by Martin and Ulrike van der Ven for a recent visit by Cardboard Shoes.

"We had a wonderful weekend with nice weather and took Keith Skues on a nostalgic trip through offshore memories in Amsterdam," said Sinterklaas Knot.

Keith wrote: "What a marvellous 24 hours. Thank you so much for making me most welcome. I was most excited to see the Norderney and climb up the steps to REM Island."

(l to r) Hans, Jana, Ulrike, Keith and Martin. Photo taken by a passer-by


Big L's Ticket to Ryde – All Wight?
Earlier in 2014, Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow wrote an item about a long-forgotten club called the 'Big L Speakeasy'. Further information has come to light.

When I visited the Isle of Wight earlier this year, I was intrigued to learn that Ryde Pier at its peak boasted a ballroom, tea bar and a pub called 'The First and Last' – presumably because its main purpose was to provide refreshments for those arriving on the Island by ferry and those departing. The ballroom became the 'Seagull' in 1956, serving afternoon teas with musical accompaniment. This continued until 1967 when a local club owner, Clive Meddick, took over the establishment and for the Summer of Love renamed it the 'Big L Speakeasy'! Presumably, this was an attempt to cash in on the famous Speakeasy in London and the popularity of Radio London.

Having come across some advertisements from Isle of Wight newspapers (all from 1967 but unfortunately mostly undated) I can verify that the ballroom opened under this name early in that year (exact date unknown) with Simon Dupree and the Big Sound as the headline act on launch night. It was unlikely to have been their only appearance there, as they were a local, Portsmouth-based group who went on to achieve chart success with 'Kites' towards the end of '67.

In the adverts, islanders were invited to "stay tuned to Radio London" for more information about the venue. However, I do not recall the Big L Speakeasy ever having been advertised on Radio London and cannot find evidence that any of the DJs ever made an appearance there. The Sixty-Nine club at the nearby Hotel Ryde Castle advertised a show featuring Fairport Convention with compere John Peel, referred to as being a 'Top Gear' DJ. This dates that particular event well into the Radio One era.

It is my assumption that the 'Big L Speakeasy' was never endorsed by Radio London/Radlon Sales, but that the radio station's name was being 'borrowed' unofficially to attract custom.

By 19 August 1967 the 'Big L' suffix had been dropped, presumably because of concerns about promoting Pirate Radio in any way after the MOA had come into effect. The Move performed there the following Saturday night. Dantalian's Chariot, formed out of Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, made two appearances on September 2nd and 9th, only weeks after Radio London had closed down. The club continued to be a popular live music venue for around a year. The last-ever act to play there was Traffic in September 1968. In 1970 the ballroom was almost completely demolished and today only a few rusty pillars remain.

Dave Warren has written to say he was at the club to see Simon Dupree and the Big Sound.

I was talking to a friend of mine a few days back about the old days, and we got on the subject of a holiday on the Isle of Wight in 1967. We visited Ryde pier and at the end discovered the 'Big L Speakeasy'. It was basically the building in the image above, repainted, renamed and used as a dance hall. I know I did take a couple of photos then (now lost I fear) of the domes of the hall where somebody had climbed up there with a tin of black paint to write in large letters (but not very neatly) "Big L". That week I saw (amongst other acts I've long forgotten) Simon Dupree and the Big Sound and PP Arnold.

I can recall hearing Radio London advertising events at the Big L Speakeasy, although I don't think Radio London had any financial involvement with this venture - other than transmitting paid advertising for these events. I certainly don't recall any DJs commenting on it on air, or saying who would be appearing to host the show, as they usually did with 'official' venues. I suspect the name was unofficial but as Radio London was by then (mid-1967) virtually dead, London management turned a blind eye and let them get on with it. It was, after all, slightly out of Radio London's normal broadcasting area, although at night Big L could clearly be heard on the island. Radio London had the strongest and clearest signal of all the pirates often could be received as far away as Cornwall.

(I also suspect Radlon would take any advertising they could get at that stage, knowing that the dream was coming to an end - Webmaster)

Any additonal information is welcome

50 years of The Who
As the surviving members of the Who mark the band's 50th Anniversary, Roger Daltrey pays tribute to the offshore stations.

The band has also allowed some of their classic tracks to be remixed for use in commercials.

(Thanks to Brian Long for the 1965 advert)

Radio London Kneesflashes
"Fewer people grow up with radios in their bedrooms" The Economist

Symmetrical knees linked to Jamaican sprinting prowess. Science Daily. (Thanks to Keith Milborrow)

Biba,Twiggy & Mary Quant. A Saga interview with fashion journalist Felicity Green recalls Sixties style icons

Radio Free Roatan – a heartwarming radio story

PY pays tribute to 'Jumpin'' George
Peter Young

The 'Jazz Dance Hour' for August 23rd was dedicated to former Jazz FM legend - 'Jumpin'' George Reid, who passed away on August 16th. It included the first record George played on air from Lou Donaldson and Ella Fitzgerald, who was interviewed by George on the opening day. PY also included

"A record I once heard him play by Herbie Mann, a great swinging arrangement of Ray Charles' 'What'd I Say'. Afterwards I told him how good I thought it was and he handed me the LP and said, "Have it, it's yours!". That was George.

So many stories and anecdotes about the great man. One that springs to mind is an occasion when he was presenting 'Dinner Jazz'. I was in the building and noticed that it had all gone quiet at the end of a track. I raced to the studio, but was beaten to it by a lady engineer who found him asleep in his chair. She nudged him gently and he immediately sprang into life without missing a beat. He opened his microphone. "This is George Reid with Dinner Jazz on Jazz FM" and then carried on as if nothing had happened. He was probably only dozing for about 10 seconds, but that's a long time in radio. I begged the engineer not to tell anyone about what happened and thankfully she adhered to my request. George, we'll never forget you."

PY, Saturdays on Jazz FM, 1400 - 1800 featuring the 'Soul Cellar', and available on the Jazz FM 'On Demand' for 7 days.

August 14th reflections
At 1500 on August 14th, we were sheltering aboard the LV18 from a heavy shower while listening to Paul Kaye and Big Lil via Chris's iPad and Fab Alan's phone - Mary


Mark Roman
Just kinda remembering this time 47 years ago, Paul Kaye had uttered those immortal words:
"Big L time is three o'clock and Radio London is now closing down" and in many respects, there was a clamour to get off Galaxy. The music had died, and she served no real purpose just a repository for the echoes of so many wonderfull events that had changed British Broadcasting for ever. And thinking too of those who have gone, Paul of course, TW, Tommy Vance, John Peel, Earl Richmond, Chuck Blair. Don Pierson, Kenny, all of them and the others who would not be remembered if it were not for you and Chris.

It is your fidelity that is the true legacy of Lil and the pioneers on board and in Curzon Street, And even more amazing is that you did all this before the Internet arrived to spread the word around the world. I am so grateful to the two of you for all your past and continuing efforts, it makes me feel proud to have been a part of history and to have contributed in a small way to that story.
Thanks again to you both.


Francis Pullen:

Three pm on Monday 14th August 1967 is indelibly etched in my memory, even after all these years, and as a teenager then, the close-down was a real sense of loss.

Dum-dum's farewell words, 'I doubt we'll ever see the like of it again' ring as true today as they did then.

Huge thanks to you and Chris for committing so much time and effort to keeping those memories alive, and documenting such a well loved part of the UK's social history.


Claus-Peter Willi:

My Name is Claus, born in 1950, and I was an enthusiastic listener of Big L all of 1966 and till close down in August 1967. I am German and was living in the northern part of Germany at that time, where the quality of the transmission was not very good, but sufficient to hear the Fab Forty and listening in the evening every day. In those years the German radio stations were providing only small portions of young music and so, besides Radio London, I had to find my music at BFBS, AFN and Radio Luxembourg.

You may believe or not, until today I am often thinking about the Big L years and still most of the music I am listening to today, includes all the stuff of the Big L playlist. In the year 2000 I discovered your Website, which was very small compared with nowadays, but your Fab 40 archive always helps, even today. While listening to a personal Big L playlist, I'm dreaming of that musical time in the Sixties, and also reading the facts behind the music and scene of Radio London almost 50 years ago.

For you a big compliment from my side for helping me to enjoy the music of my youth due to your excellent support. Of course I am also my private DJ, often playing some hours of Radio London's music only for my own entertainment.


Keith Milborrow:

As we approach August 14th, I have found that it is not just 'anoraks' who have memories of Radio London.
In recent weeks I have been surprised and pleased that several people I have encountered still remember Big L. I was chatting to my barber about The Dubliners (who I had seen in concert locally) and commented that their records were plugged heavily on Radio Caroline. He then remarked, "I always preferred Radio London myself".

An almost identical comment was made by one of the regulars at a pub I visited, on seeing I was wearing a Radio Caroline/Ronan O'Rahilly T-shirt. Then, a friend of mine who I thought had no recollection of the Sixties pirates added a "whoopee" when I mentioned Radio London. I suppose that PAMS jingle was rather memorable!
However, nothing beats my experience back in December 1997. It reminded me of Paul Kaye's story during the 'Final Hour' about the very early days of Big L. I had spent the day on board the MV Ocean Defender and stopped for a drink at a local pub before I arrived home.   Someone came over to my table and sang "Wonderful Radio London" to me. I realised I was wearing a Radio London sweatshirt and that at least one other person remembered that great radio station! Sadly, I don't think this man believed me when I told him that Radio London was currently back on the air in the capital for a 30th Anniversary commemorative broadcast!

Chris and I have also been surprised on a few occasions by a mention of Radio London prompting someone to sing us a jingle - Mary

Where did those years go? Supremes' 50th
Yet another Golden celebration, this time for the Supremes, who had their first #1 in August 1964 with 'Where Did Our Love Go'.
Older Archived Stories – Page 4 | Next Archived Stories – Page 6
Archived Obituary Section here

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