Obituaries – most recent at the top of the page
Paul was a true radio pioneer in more ways than one. First heard on British Forces Network and Radio Luxembourg, Paul could lay claim to being the earliest pirate broadcaster to the UK. His prerecorded shows were aired via an innovative venture, Commercial Neutral Broadcasting Company (CNBC) ''your friendly host off the Dutch coast' The station leased airtime from Radio Veronica to broadcast an English-speaking service to the UK. This was almost four years before the start of Radio Caroline, but the signal was weak and attracted few listeners.
"I am pleased in a way even for the short time we were on the air, to have pioneered the idea and we were the originators of the idea," he told Colin Nichol in a 2009 interview. "I mean Ronan O'Rahilly came along later and so did Allan Crawford but we were the people that actually put it on the air and put the thoughts into their heads."
On the Light Programme, Paul presented shows like 'Swing Into Summer' and 'London Swings' and when the station became Radio 2 on September 30th 1967, Paul was first on the air at 0533, with his 'Breakfast Special'. He started the show with Julie Andrews singing the title song from 'The Sound of Music'.
Paul broadcast on a number of stations after leaving Radio 2. In 1976, his voice launched Reading's Radio 210. He was also part of the launch team for Britain's first country music station Country 1035 in 1994 and he opened Blue Danube Radio, an English-language station in Vienna.
Keith Milborrow writes:
Photo: Hans Knot, 2007
Paul interviewed by Colin Nichol in 1984
Early in 1965, Dave was juggling two careers, working as an air traffic controller, while, when he could manage to fit it in with his shifts at Gatwick, moonlighting as a Radio City DJ on Shivering Sands Fort. He ventured further out to sea aboard the Laissez-Faire in August 1966, where he broadcast on Britain Radio as Dave MacKay, staying after the station changed its name to Radio 355, and till its enforced closure in August 1967.
Keith Milborrow shares his memories of Dave:
Dave takes the mic at the Radio England/Britain Radio 40th Anniversary reunion held at the Red Lion in Mayfair in May 2006.
Mike presented a variety of programmes aboard the Mi Amigo, including the Caroline Club Magazine and the Good Guy Disc Date.
After leaving Caroline, Mike hosted freelance shows for the BBC, and wrote Jazz articles. When he moved back to his home town of Portsmouth, he joined Radio Solent and also wrote witty articles for the Portsmouth Evening newspaper.
Our sympathy to Rhoda, Mike's family members and friends.
Photo from the Robbie Dale Collection, with thanks to Jon at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
A feature about the song penned for the Hummelflugs by Mike and Eddie, is here
Russell Percival Tollerfield
Russell Tollerfield, the engineer who 50 years ago drew the short straw to switch off theRadio London transmitter, has died at the age of 72.
A full tribute page to Russ has been added and updated (April 29th).
Although it is impossible to include everything that Brian achieved in his long life, we must mention the start of his broadcasting career and some of the programmes for which he became famous.
Many people will have heard his mellow voice first on the then-Light Programme's Saturday Club, but Brian's earliest radio broadcasts were in 1948, with British Forces Network. After appearing in various stage productions, he took up a two-year post in 1952, with the foreign section of Dutch overseas radio in Hilversum. In 1955, he was offered a position at the BBC as a trainee announcer. Brian recalls in his 1991 autobiography, 'This is Where I Came In', that records were still almost exclusively of the 78 rpm variety which before tape recorders were widely-used, were the main medium for news reports and dramas. He relates the perils of attempting to organise smooth continuity between records, particularly when some of the recordings ended mid-sentence at the end of one 78 and resumed on the next! Brian's BBC training included both pronunciation and annunciation – a far cry from 20th century broadcasting.
Brian announced on comedy shows such as 'Hancock's Half Hour' until, in June 1957, he was approached by producer Jimmy Grant to front a programme unlike any heard previously on BBC radio. It was called 'Saturday Skiffle Club', even though Brian admitted that at the time, he had no notion as to the nature of 'skiffle' music! The show was an immediate success and in October 1958, it evolved into 'Saturday Club', the two-hour Saturday morning programme that became a vehicle for memorable live sessions by top bands and singers. Ten months later, the programme that the BBC had thought would never attract a listenership, had an audience of 5 million. Its success brought about Brian being asked to present 'Easy Beat', a prerecorded, one-hour live-audience show, transmitted on Sunday mornings. Brian fronted episodes 1 to 468 of 'Saturday Club' before being replaced by Keith Skues and then Tom Edwards.
Above: Presenting 'Saturday Club'
Although Brian resigned from the BBC after being caught committing the ultimate corporation sin of voicing a Murraymints commercial, he continued hosting his BBC programmes on a freelance basis. His resignation left him free to record regular Pye record company shows for Radio Luxembourg and to front ATV's 'Thank Your Lucky Stars', which he did for five years.
Despite initially being somewhat underwhelmed by the Light programme's replacement station Radio One, in 1973, Brian came up with the idea for 'My Top Twelve', which he saw as a more contemporary 'Desert Island Discs'.
Between 1978 and 1990 he hosted Radio Two's arts magazine, 'Round Midnight', a nightly live programme that mixed light entertainment, music and interviews aired between 2300 and 0200. Brian enjoyed the late hour, and with acting in his blood, he especially relished featuring interviewees hotfoot from the West End stage.
From 1990, until his recent retirement, Brian hosted Radio Two's 'Sounds of the Sixties', where he gained a massive audiences, members of which he nicknamed 'Avids'. Not a huge fan of the pirates, Brian nonetheless played a request for Radio London's 50th birthday, December 2014.
A petition to reinstate him as the programme's presenter was signed by over 12,000 listeners, but sadly, Brian became gravely ill and died on April 8th.
Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr
The singer/songwriter who inspired a thousand recording artists, including the Beatles and The Stones has died at his home in St Charles County, Missouri, aged 90.
The inventor of the 'duck walk' was already in his fourth decade when the Sixties started swinging. In the early years, his music was brought to a new audience when the Beatles covered 'Roll Over Beethoven', the Stones covered ''Carol' and the Beach Boys revamped 'Sweet Little Sixteen' as 'Surfin' USA'. 'No Particular Place to Go' and 'You Never Can Tell' were in both the Nationals and the Caroline charts in 1964. He made #14 in the Fab Forty of February 65 with 'Promised Land' (successfully covered by Elvis in 1974) and #13 with 'Club Nitty Gritty' in January 67. 'Back to Memphis/I Do Really Love You' featured in the final Fab Forty (060867).
Photo: Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"
Chuck received many musical honours, including a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him at the 26th annual Grammys in 1984. Towards the end of his life, ill health was beginning to take its toll and Chuck's last concert was in October 2014.
Newsday photo collection of momentous Chuck Berry moments
Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music" tribute
Carl, who has died in Kent at the age of 95, was a 42-year-old established actor from Ramsgate when he joined the new offshore station Radio Caroline in March 1964.
Carl had made several minor films which included – with a touch of deja vu – the part of a sailor in 'Watch Your Stern' and he had appeared in a number of TV dramas in the Fifties, prior to joining Caroline. Although he did not work aboard the ship for long, Carl produced recorded programmes for Caroline and his voice was heard regularly in commercials - which were a radio novelty at the time. His TV credits include Dr Who and Z Cars and – appropriately – he played 'a voice on the radio' in the 1969 TV Series, 'Out of the Unknown'.
In 1967, Carl was one of the presenters of 'Swingalong' on the BBC Light Programme. Best described as eclectic, the mid-afternoon show included pop stars of the day alongside jazz duos and session men.
Carl continued his acting and voice-over work and in the Eighties, presented 'The Big Band Show' on Invicta Sound. In 2008, he told the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame that he was keeping himself busy organising film shows in old people's homes and community centres.
The East Anglian Film Archive houses 'The Radio Caroline Story' a 9-minute black-and-white film, narrated by Carl.
Chris and I were truly sorry to hear of the untimely passing of Geoff Kemp. We had the pleasure of meeting him and his partner Paul Peters on a number of occasions, usually aboard the LV18 in Harwich. They co-presented shows on Forest FM and were delighted to be part of Pirate BBC Essex, where Paul was nicknamed 'The YTS Pirate' by the late Dave Cash.
Paul and Geoff ran their successful business Palfrey and Kemp, in Lymington for over 30 years. As 'Britain's Rudest Shop', it gained massive press coverage when they retired in 2012.
"Geoff had always been interested in old motor cars, and I was mad about radio and still, so much wanted to visit those real American radio stations that I'd seen in the films. Somehow we got this idea of 'doing' Route 66. I told him, 'You can see all the old cars that you want, and I'll call into every radio station that we pass, and make a nuisance of myself, asking to have a look around.' And so we started to talk about, and plan, our trip along Route 66".
Right: Geoff with friends aboard the LV18. l to r Tony Lawther, Tony Currie, Paul, Geoff, Mary and Moosie; Tony O'Neil in front.
After the very successful Route 66 tour, the pair were back home and back in the press, talking about their adventure and were interviewed by Dave Cash for BBC Kent.
We know that Geoff will be greatly missed and we extend our deepest sympathy to Paul and to Geoff's family and his many friends.
Friend Ron Buninga:
See our story 'Radio London meets Radio Essex'
We were very sorry to learn of the death of Stuart Russell (no relation to the Caroline DJ of that name). Although Stuart had no internet access, his name will be familiar to visitors to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, where he was a regular contributor, and listeners to the Keith Skues Show. Stuart was a prolific correspondent with many people who will miss him, although they never met him in person.
Jon Myer, PRHoF
Wolfgang Buchholz, Bonn, Germany
David Elie Phillips
Dave's long career in radio commenced with shows on Radio Northsea International in the summer of 1970 and included stints on Radio 1, Metro Radio, Essex Radio, Luxembourg and Jazz FM - with a bit of 'moonlighting' on land-based pirates thrown in. He cited fellow offshore broadcasters Tony Blackburn and Johnnie Walker as major influences. Dave's most recent broadcasts were the monthly 'Gregamix' on Solar Radio.
At the 2014 Amsterdam Radio Day, Dave participated in the RNI Panel and Chris and I enjoyed a pleasant evening over dinner with him and his wife Sue. Our deepest condolences to Sue.
RIP Dave Cash, original Big L DJ
Ben Toney spoke to Dave's widow and says, "I had a chat with Sara on the phone, Mary, and she is overwhelmed at the outpouring of comments about Dave.
I know she will appreciate your tribute page as well.
Thank you, Mary for all the hard work you do for all of us. You are the best."
Bobby Vee (Robert Thomas Velline) died 24th October 24th
BFN Sir Jimmy
Mike Terry has kindly sent the following tribute.
Don Ciccone, the lead singer of the Critters and composer of the beautiful 'Mr Dieingly Sad', has died in Ketchum, Idaho. The song was the band's biggest US success, #17 on the Billboard singles chart.
On June 10th, 1966 having only arrived back from 'exile' three days earlier, Kenny Everett was already threatening to return to 'Little L' (by which he meant Radio Luxembourg) if 'Younger Girl' the Critters' first UK release, didn't make the charts.
A couple of months later, Kenny picked 'Mr Dieingly Sad' as his climber for 28/8/66 and it entered the Fab Forty the following week.
Radio London gave airplay to follow-ups, 'Bad Misunderstanding', 'Marryin' Kind of Love' and 'Don't Let the Rain Fall Down on Me' (Chuck Blair's climber 23/07/67), but the tracks saw little success in the UK.
Joan Marie Johnson
The Dixie Cups, Joan Marie Johnson and her cousins Barbara Ann and Rosa Lee Hawkins, began singing as a trio while still in school. Their 1964 single 'Chapel of Love' became a massive US hit in the summer of 1964.
'You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me' released November 1964, was played by Paul Kaye on the fledgling Big L on 9th January 1965 and 'Iko Iko' released the following April spent several weeks on the earliest Fab Forties, climbing to #10 in the chart of, 30/05/65.
The Dixie Cups were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in New Orleans in 2007.
Annette Pierson, 90, of Eastland, Texas, passed away Monday, August 29, 2016 surrounded by her family.
Known for her grace, charm and gentle kindness, Annette was also exceptionally witty and a priceless mimic.
A graduate of Abilene High School and Baylor University, Annette employed her talents as a skilled designer for D&W Furniture in Abilene before marrying her childhood sweetheart, the late Don Pierson, in 1948. They moved to Eastland in 1953 when Don acquired the local Olds-Cadillac dealership, and in 1954 Annette designed and oversaw construction of their home on Hillcrest Avenue.
Although life experiences took her around the world, she remained active in Eastland civic affairs through a number of clubs and organizations including the Civic League, Women's Club, Civic Theater and her bridge club.
Annette is survived by daughter, Marilyn Van Zandt and Larry, son, Grey Pierson and wife Paula, son by love, Reza Zaheri, granddaughter Lauren Petree, grandson Trevor Van Zandt, and great-grandchildren Ella Petree, Kendall Quirk and Shaun Quirk.
A celebration of Annette's life will be held at Edward's Funeral Home in Eastland at 2:00 PM on Saturday, September 3, 2016. Her favored charities included First Presbyterian Church of Eastland and Meals on Wheels.
Errol, who broadcast under the name of Errol Bruce for over 45 years, was a pioneer of UK offshore radio. In interviews with Spectrum Radio, he explained how he was working in London in 1964, when he applied for a DJ job on the 4-month-old Radio Caroline. An unexpected opportunity for swift employment arose when Bryan Vaughan was rushed ashore from the Mi Amigo via lifeboat, with suspected appendicitis. (The date confirmed by the records of the Walton and Frinton lifeboats, is July 27th.) The DJs, who in the early days did not operate their own equipment, had been left without a technical operator. Bryan's unfortunate illness opened the studio door for Errol, who managed to bluff his way aboard by claiming to be familiar with the studio equipment and its operation. He soon graduated to being a DJ and spent time working aboard both Caroline ships, using the theme tune, 'I've Got a Woman' by Jimmy McGriff. When Radio England began swinging in 1966, Errol joined the team to become 'Bosscat' Bruce, then displayed his versatility by switching styles completely to broadcast on SRE's laid-back sister station, Britain Radio. On returning to Canada in 1968, Errol joined CKFH Toronto and later broadcast with CHUM-FM, Q107, CHOO and CBC.
From the 1990s onwards, Errol became renowned for his interest in Unidentified Flying Objects and his show, later a podcast, 'Strange Days... Indeed', where he conducted interviews with both UFO and other paranormal researchers.
A comprehensive tribute with audio clips is on the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
Tribute on Coast to Coast AM
Photo: from Errol's personal Facebook page
Clarence Edwin 'Eddie' Blackwell
Former Radlon Sales Executive Eddie Blackwell passed away peacefully on June 20th, 2016.
Peter Flanagan, who also worked at 17 Curzon Street
Eddie's character's presence has remained in my mind, longer than many do. I just remember his behaviour towards me as kind and reasonable, and probably more so than I deserved at that age!
Keith Skues remembers
Ben Toney, Willy Walker, Dave Cash, Tony Brandon and Guy Hamilton all wished to add their condolences.
Photo: Martin Powell Photography
Andy Cadier, who worked for the Bates family as Radio Essex DJ Michael Cane, has forwarded the sad news that Joan Bates has died.
Joan Bates was born in Aldershot barracks to RSM Royal Artillery, to Albert Collins, and his wife, Elizabeth. The widow of Roy Bates, aka Prince Roy of Sealand, Joan was a natural beauty who lovingly devoted her life to her husband. A former carnival queen and model, Joan led quite a high profile life alongside her husband, Roy. Joan became happily engulfed by the offshore pirate radio phenomena in the early 1960s, helping to establish the popular Radio Essex. Joan and her family then went on to form their own sovereign state, the Principality of Sealand, on a wartime fortress in the North Sea in the late 60s. Roy declared the independence of Sealand on Joan's birthday, and with it, her title of Princess, in a hugely romantic gesture on 2nd September 1967.
(Right) Prince Roy and Princess Joan with the Sealand flag
Sir George Henry Martin CBE
George Martin's contribution to the Big L Fab Forties was of course, immense. He had a lifetime achievement of 30 #1 hits in the UK and 23 in the United States. The Action, Beatles, Billy J Kramer, Cilla Black, David & Jonathan, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Matt Monro and Peter Sellers all appeared in the Fab Forty with George Martin-produced singles.
"(The Beatles) had a well of creativity that I haven't seen in anybody else."
George was interviewed in 1999 at the Parisian cabaret Scheherazade by Thierry Ardisson. During the 25-minute interview, George talked of Air Studios which he built on Montserrat and of the fundraising album he recorded with a host of stars after the small Caribbean island was devastated by Hurricane Hugo. Naturally, he spoke of his relationship with the Beatles and he also reveals how he and an equally-devastated Paul McCartney helped each other to cope with the news of the murder of John Lennon. The interview ends with Thierry asking George what he thought the Beatles would have become without him - and vice versa.
Edward Stewart Mainwaring
23rd April 1941 – 9th January 2016
"There was something special about being on a pirate radio ship in the North Sea, in a roaring gale in winter. You obviously can't recreate that in a studio on land and that's what gave pirate radio its special magic and appeal to millions of listeners"
Stephen Chesney writes: A connection between Ed and Terry Wogan has occurred to me. When Wogan was first given a daily afternoon show on Radio 1, he used 'Drum Diddley' by Joe Loss as his theme tune, just as Ed had done aboard Big L.
David Robert Jones
It is not widely known that Radio London was very much instrumental in promoting David Bowie's early career. This tribute concentrates on 1966 and 67 and the station plugging his recordings when they were generally ignored elsewhere; it recalls the numerous appearances he made at Big L-sponsored events.
(Right) EMI publicity shot 1965
Departures from the music and broadcasting world, December 2015 - January 2016
Ian Fraser Kilmister (24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015)
Over on Radio Caroline, where the Rocking Vickers were not obliged to share their glory with Clinton Ford, the single peaked at #38 on December 10th.
Stephen Carlton "Stevie" Wright (20 December 1947 – 27 December 2015)
Robert Colin Stigwood (16 April 1934 – 4 January 2016)
Giorgio Gomelsky (28 February 1934 – 13 January 2016)
The Radio London webmasters were sad to receive the news that Jonathan Taylor, who was involved in the Pirate BBC Essex broadcasts from the LV18 in Harwich, had passed away after a short illness. Ray Clark of BBC Essex said:
"A nice guy. The first time I met him was when he was sorting some new equipment at R Cambs. I'd said hello to this guy and was working away and suddenly I hear a phone tone of Big Lil!"
Our condolences to Jonathan's family.
(Left, Jonathan with Roger Day during the 2009 Pirate BBC Essex broadcast.)
(Thanks to Jon Myer)
Hubert Leroy Goins
Herbie Goins was an American singer and songwriter with a gospel background, who spent much of the late Fifties and Sixties working in England. He was with both the Eric Delaney and Chris Barber bands before becoming lead singer with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, in 1963. Herbie formed his own band the Night-Timers, in 1965 and the following year, spent five weeks on the Big L playlist with 'No 1 In Your Heart' - later a Northern Soul favourite. First recorded by Motown's Monitors, it peaked at #12 on the Fab Forty in July '66. 'The Incredible Miss Brown', released in September '66, failed to make it beyond the Climber list.
In 1971, Herbie moved to Italy, where he continued to work in the music business. He returned to performing in the Eighties and last toured the UK in 2009, with contemporaries Cliff Bennett and Chris Farlowe. He died in Italy aged 76.
Billy Joe Royal
Billy Joe Royal's records were not hugely successful in the UK, but five of his singles spent a total of 12 weeks on the Big L playlist, even though only one of them reached the Top Ten. Although the major Hot Hundred success, 'Down in the Boondocks' spent only one week in the Fab Forty, it remains well-loved and remembered as a Big L turntable hit. The ever-resourceful Kenny and Cash even spliced up the intro for one of their promos. 'Boondocks' had competition from a British version by Gregory Philips, but the original quickly became the outright winner.
Two of Billy Joe's later singles were DJ hit picks - 'The Greatest Love' (Willy Walker) and 'Yo Yo' (Chuck Blair). The latter reached #9 in February 1966. 'Heart's Desire' (later popular with Northern Soul enthusiasts) was a climber for two weeks in June 66 but never made the Fab Forty. I Knew You When' and 'The Greatest Love' both made the lower reaches of the Big L chart.
Most of us in the UK remained completely mystified as to the nature of a 'boondock', until 2001, when Caroline's Bud Ballou finally enlightened us. Someone who comes from the boondocks, aka 'the boonies', will be labelled even more of an outcast than someone who hails from 'way out in the sticks'! (A real-life 'nowhere man', in fact.) 'Boondocks', a Joe South composition, was the only Billy Joe Royal release to make the UK Nationals and the single also spent a few weeks in the Caroline Countdown. (Thanks to Jon Myer)
The Radio London website has only recently received the sad news that Fab Forty South African artist Sharon Tandy died in March 2015.
Sharon's cover of Walter Jackson's US Hot Hundred entry, 'It's an Uphill Climb to the Bottom', appeared in the Radio London chart in July 1966 for three weeks, but was never actually released. A year later Sharon's cover of Lorraine Elliison's 'Stay With Me' was picked as Tony Brandon's climber and appeared briefly in the Fab Forty close to the end of Radio London's life in 1967.
Sharon had recorded tracks in 1966 with Booker T and the MGs at the Stax studios in Memphis, and was chosen to take Carla Thomas's place on some dates of the 1967 Stax/Volt European tour, aka 'Hit the Road Stax'. She also recorded a session for John Peel's Top Gear and enjoyed 2 Top 20 hits in South Africa.
(Thanks to Jon Myer)
1964 EMI publicity shot
Priscilla Maria Veronica White OBE
Tribute by Mary Payne
Cilla's recordings spent many weeks in the Fab Forty, beginning with 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling', #5 in the first-known complete Fab Forty chart from 24th January 1965. It was a success that Cilla was obliged to share with the Righteous Brothers. Her follow-up in April, 'I've Been Wrong Before', spent six weeks in the Big L chart and peaked at #9 on May 23rd. 'Love's Just a Broken Heart' was her biggest Fab Forty hit, #2 on January 30th 1966. Follow-ups 'Don't Answer me' and 'A Fool am I' made numbers 4 and 5 respectively. 'What Good Am I' was picked as Pete Drummond's climber and reached #8 on the Fab Forty.
A touring show co-promoted with a radio station was an innovation when Brian Epstein and Radio London launched Star Scene '65. Throughout October of that year. Cilla toured with stablemates Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, while the Everly Brothers topped the bill.
Pete Brady, who had just resigned his DJ job aboard the Galaxy, was free to host a Big L section of the show where teeshirts and records were given as prizes. Pete also wrote backstage reports for Disc, where he reported that Phil Everly was 'knocked out' by Cilla and always watched her performance from the wings.
George Martin told Brian Epstein's biographer Ray Coleman, "Brian had this sense to see in Cilla something I originally hadn't seen. I thought she was this dolly rocker from Liverpool, good and different but not in any way a ballad singer. She was a mini- skirted little girl with a brassy voice. He opened my eyes to Cilla's dramatic potential."
Cilla was awarded her OBE in 1997. She celebrated 50 years in show business in December 2013 and received a BAFTA Special Award the following year in honour of her contribution to entertainment.
Michael Valentine Doonican – Val Doonican
Popular Irish singing star Val Doonican has died peacefully in a nursing home in Buckinghamshire. Val became well known not only for his best-selling recordings, but for his laid-back primetime TV shows, which he hosted from a rocking chair. However, he had an earlier, lesser-known radio career.
Alan Bailey recalls Val recording a few shows for Radio Luxembourg in London with Pat Campbell. Val and Pat had sung together in Dublin, as members of the Four Ramblers and Pat was a DJ on a 208 Decca-sponsored show, while Val was a Decca artist. Val was also a good friend of 208 DJ Keith Fordyce.
Val hosted a radio programme on the pre-Radio 2 BBC Light Programme and according to Val's Official Website, "Embarrassed the announcers terribly with some of his song titles (you try announcing...'Quit Kickin' My Dog Around' with a straight face). This led to him linking his own material at a time when regional accents were almost unknown at the BBC. However, Val's surname was still not known to his listeners - the powers-that-be in Broadcasting House, having decided that the general public would never remember a complicated surname like Doonican!"
The 'complicated' surname did not prevent Val from becoming a major star and recorded 25 Christmas Specials for BBC TV, attracting audiences of 19 million. Val admitted to the Daily Express that he had felt too embarrassed to watch them. "We'd sit as a family enjoying ourselves," he said, "But as soon as my show started, I'd nip off to another room."
Throughout the life of Radio London, Val made regular Fab Forty appearances. 'Walk Tall' was at #8 on January 10th 1965, one of the earliest-known Big L charts. A month later, the follow-up 'The Special Years' made #6, while 'I'm Gonna Get There Somehow' reached #16 at the beginning of May. Val was obliged to share the glory of #2 with Bob Lind (and no doubt the sales) at the end of March 66, when both versions of 'Elusive Butterfly' were released simultaneously. At the end of November he secured the #3 slot with 'What Would I Be' and was back at #2 in March 67. 'Two Streets' was Val's final Fab Forty entry. Picked as Tony Brandon's climber, it proceeded to climb to #11 in May 67.
One of Val's lesser-known skills was as a harmonica player, which is illustrated by a clip of him playing the theme to the Old Grey Whistle Test, 'Stone Fox Chase', with Charlie McCoy.
Val retired from performing in 2009 and enjoyed painting and drawing, donating some of his artwork to a local calendar.
Lynn Annette Ripley – 'Twinkle'
With her long, blonde hair and fashionable clothes, Twinkle was the epitome of the female Sixties pop star. In the middle of the decade, she was a well-known 'face' on the music scene and was friendly with the likes of Brian Jones and George Harrison.
Thanks to the influence of her manager Philip Solomon, Twinkle's records were played extensively on offshore radio. Her self-penned hit 'Terry' was a huge success at the end of 1964, beginning of '65, both on the Caroline charts and the nationals and was in the earliest Radio London Fab Forties. Twinkle recorded personal promo messages for Dave Dennis and even modelled the 1965 Big L teeshirt. Her 'death disc' was banned by commercial TV companies, but surprisingly, not by the BBC.
Twinkle also wrote follow-up releases, including 'Tommy' (FF May 1965) and 'Golden Lights' (FF March 1965). Her cover of the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest Winner 'Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son' became the title track on her 1965 EP 'A Lonely Singing Doll'.
She paid two visits to the Mi Amigo during 1965 and in July, appeared at the opening of the Caroline Disc Nights at 100 Club, Oxford Street.
Unfortunately, none of the follow-ups to 'Terry' found the same success. Although Philip Solomon ensured that 'What Am I Doing Here With You' spent several weeks in the Caroline Countdown of Sound in August 66, it did not sell well, or make the Big L playlist.
When the Postmaster General threatened to kill off the pirates in December 65, Twinkle spoke out for the offshore stations. "PIrate Radio made many names famous and was the best thing to ever hit Britain this century. The BBC was old hat and stuffy... Radio Caroline sounded much more friendly," she said.
Departures from the music and broadcasting world, April 2015
Benjamin Earl King
Singer and songwriter Ben E King was successful both as lead vocalist with the Drifters and a solo artist. He was regularly in the US Top Ten, and at the top of the charts with 'There Goes My Baby' and 'Save The Last Dance For Me', 'Stand By Me' and 'Supernatural Thing'. 'Stand By Me' shot back to the top when rereleased in 1986 as title song of the film of Stephen King's short story. 'Stand by Me', 'There Goes My Baby' and 'Spanish Harlem' were named as three of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and the trio, plus 'Save The Last Dance For Me' all earned Grammy Hall of Fame Awards
In 2012, Stand by Me' took the Songwriters Hall of Fame 'Towering Song Award' and Ben E King was honoured with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of the song.
Ben co-wrote 'What is Soul', #23 in the Fab Forty in January 67 and 'Tears Tears Tears', Paul Kaye's climber for 23/04/67, which peaked at #8 on May 14th.
Numerous covers of Ben E King successes include the Duprees' 'Around the Corner', picked as Kenny Everett's cimber for 080865 and Tony Blackburn's version of 'So Much Love', released January 68.
Ben had toured the UK as recently as 2013 and continued to play US concerts till 2014, when he succumbed to ill health.
Percy Tyrone Sledge
Renowned Southern soul singer Percy Sledge has died at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
His very first release in 1966, 'When a Man Loves a Woman' was a million-seller, for which he received a gold disc. It is reported that when the musicians went to the studio to record it, the song had no title or lyrics and was completely improvised by Percy Sledge. However, he generously gave the writing credits to band members Lewis and Wright.
The record hit #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B singles charts in the USA, made #4 in the UK Nationals and when reissued in 1987, peaked at No. 2. In May, 'When a Man Loves a Woman' was picked as Paul Kaye's climber and reached #3 in the Big L Fab 40. It topped the Caroline Countdown of Sound and was #5 on the City Sixty.
The follow-up 'Warm and Tender Love' was once again allocated to Paul Kaye and made the Top 20 on both Caroline and London in August. 'It Tears Me Up' reached the Big L Top Ten in January 1967 but although Bobby Womack composition, 'Baby Help Me' was played as part of the Big L Soul Set, it did not enter the Fab 40.
Johnnie Walker was a huge fan of soul music and when he arrived aboard Caroline and started his 'Kiss in the Car' campaign, he put Percy's love songs to good use, challenging sweethearts to win a 'Kiss in the Car' sticker by locking lips for the songs' duration.
Percy Sledge was the recipient of numerous awards. In 1989, he received the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's first Career Achievement Award and in 2005 he was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. He continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences until fairly recently, when he was struck down by illness.
Peter Young: The late Percy Sledge is mainly remembered for the deep soul classic 'When A Man Loves A Woman,' but made many other fine records. We'll hear a lot more from this great artist on Saturday's 'Soul Cellar', including a surprising number of uptempo sides from the soul balladeer.
Stanley Victor Freberg (Stan Feberg)
Broadcasting legend Stan Freberg was renowned for his ability to paint believable audio pictures for his radio audiences and for making commercials listenable. He told the New York Times he loved radio from an early age. "I was such a big radio buff when I was growing up that when the other kids ran out to play baseball, I ran inside to listen to the radio," he said, naming his idols as Jack Benny and Fred Allen.
Most offshore enthusiasts will have encountered Stan's work first via hearing his parody of 'The Banana Boat Song' on Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites in the Fifties. His comedy recordings were lesser known in the UK than in the US.
In 1958, Stan launched his own ad agency, Freberg Ltd, with the slogan, "More Honesty Than the Client Had in Mind". His corporate motto was,"Ars Gratia Pecuniae" (Art of the Sake of Money). He made a living from advertising, but was never afraid of taking a pop at the industry via spoofs such as 'Green Chri$tm$' and an anti-smoking campaign. In 1960 he tackled the 'plays for pay' topic of the day via his record 'The Old Payola Blues'. In the Sixties Stan came up with six terrific promo spots for radio as an advertising medium, titled "Who Listens to Radio?", used by some of the offshore stations.
I was lucky enough to see Stan perform at London's Comedy Store in Sept 2005, He was 79 years old and although he looked a little frail and tired by the end, he was still fantastic. The show was recorded for BBC Radio 4, and hopefully will be repeated as a tribute.
Recent Departures from the music and broadcasting world March 2015
Yvonne Burgess (Jackie Trent) September 1940 - March 2014
Only a few weeks before her sad demise, Jackie had been to the UK, where she had recorded a TV show with Ed Stewart and visited Millside Hospital Radio.
Eric Stanley Taylor (Shaw Taylor) MBE October 1924 - March 2015
DJ, actor and presenter Shaw Taylor has died at his Isle of Wight home, aged 90. He is best remembered for fronting the long-running crime-stopper TV programme, 'Police Five' and for his catchphrase, 'Keep 'em peeled'. When Channel 5 revived Police Five in 2014, Shaw made weekly appearances at the age of 89.
Much earlier in Shaw's career, he was also a DJ on Radio Luxembourg and co-hosted EMI's long-running Friday (formerly Monday) Spectacular, with Muriel Young. It was the norm then for record companies to sponsor programming on 208. Friday Spectacular was a showcase for new EMI releases, recorded on a Monday before a young audience at the record company's Manchester Square studios in London. Tapes were then shipped to the Grand Duchy for broadcast the following Friday. The edition recorded on 8th October,1962 is significant. It is thought to be when Shaw interviewed a young, little-known Scouse quartet about their newly-released Parlophone single, 'Love me Do'. The programme was broadcast on Radio Luxembourg the following Friday, 12th October, and it is believed to have been the Beatles' first radio interview.
(Right) Shaw celebrates with fans at the Christmas recording of the Friday Spectacular, 1963
Michael David Lookofsky (Michael Brown) April 1949 - March 2015
Michael Brown was the keyboard player, songwriter and co-founder of Left Banke who penned the band's Fab Forty hits. 'Walk Away Renee' was in the Big L Top 20 in October 66, 'Pretty Ballerina' just missed the Twenty in February 67. A B-Side 'And Suddenly' appeared in the chart at the end of May '67 and made #22. Radio London had chosen to play this side of the record, a departure from the usual band style found on the A,'Ivy Ivy'.
Tanya Renee Baugus
Sad Departures February 2015
A number of recent sad departures from the music and broadcasting world.
Kenrick Des-Etages (Ebony Keyes/Lee Vanderbilt)
Simon Des-Etages has sent the sad news of the sudden death of his father in London, on February 19th.
(Left) Simon and Kenrick
Trinidadian Kenrick Des-Etages spent his life writing and playing music. He emigrated to London in the 1950s and began singing in amateur nights at his local pub. He took the stage name Ebony Keyes in 1964 and after a couple of failed releases, appeared in the Fab Forty with two self-penned songs 'Sitting in a Ring' in December 1966 and the ballad 'Cupid's House' (which was chosen as Paul Kaye's climber) in March '67.
In the Seventies, Ebony Keys became Lee Vanderbilt and collaborated with Biddu and Carl Douglas.
Kenrick was a prolific songwriter and session musician, and continued to write and perform into the Eighties and beyond. Simon has compiled a complete biography of his long musical career.
Christopher Harley (Chris Rainbow)
Chris Rainbow, who died on February 22nd was renowned for writing, producing and recording Capital Radio 194 jingles. Some of them were personalised ones for the DJs, including Kenny Everett and Tommy Vance. Kenny was a huge fan of his work and his two 1974 self-penned releases, 'Give Me What I Cry For' and 'Solid State Brain' were aired regularly on Capital. The tracks featured on the album 'Looking Over my Shoulder', for which Kenny voiced a commercial. Chris was also a vocalist with the Alan Parsons Project and Camel.
In 1977, Chris recorded a song he had written in tribute to Brian Wilson, called 'Dear Brian'. In response to the news of Chris's demise, Brian Wilson posted on his official website: "I felt really bad to hear about Chris Rainbow passing away, he was too young. I remember in the late 1970s, a friend played 'Dear Brian' for me and I was touched and honored by it. It was a beautiful track."
Sad departures December 2014 & January 2015
Alan Bown, leader of The Alan Bown Set, later known simply as The Alan Bown, died on December 16th. Facebook page.
Ian 'Mac' McLaggen, who enhanced the Fab Forties from the release of 'Sha-La-La-La-Lee' onwards as the Small Faces' keyboard player, died on December 3rd. A tribute website has been set up in Mac's memory. Small Faces website.
Little Jimmy Dickens
Lance Percival, who died on January 6th, was well known for his talent for improvising topical calypsos, but 'Shame And Scandal In The Family/There's Another One Behind', his double-sided novelty single that spent several weeks in the Fab Forty, was not one of his own compositions. Independent obituary.
Trevor Ward-Davies, best known as Dozy, the bassist and founder of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, died on January 13th. The band, sometimes known as 'The Dozys' for short, enjoyed seven Top Ten Fab Forty appearances. Express obituary.
The Ultimateclassicrock site pays tribute to a number of musicians who departed for the Great Gig in the Sky during 2014.
Toby Walker's Soulwalking site pays R-E-S-P-E-C-T to artists who last year 'just got on board' the Long Train Running.
Added Jan 23rd
Kim Fowley, who died on January 15th, was, to put it mildly, an eccentric. In the earlier part of his musical career he specialised in producing hit novelty records. In the Sixties, he was based for a while in the UK. During that time, he did have a Radio London connection. His version of 'They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Haa' was in the Fab Forty in tandem with the Napoleon X1V version, in August 1966. It boasted a B-side written by Mike Stone and published by Pall Mall Music.
Kim Fowley is also credited with writing the Kenny and Cash theme 'Nut Rocker', an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "March Of The Wooden Soldiers" from the Nutcracker Suite.