The Happenings pages contain details of recent updates and amendments to the Radio London website
Any items added to the site or updated within the past month will be flagged appropriately with an or flash.
In the news section all new, or currently active stories (apart from obituaries) are headed in orange, including stories that are liable to remain current for some weeks. Naturally, you may need to scroll down the page to see older items which may have been amended. The latest updates and amendments will always be found on this first page, while older news items will be saved on separate pages. Older obituaries are transferred to a separate archive section.
The News starts here.
266 Seasonal Greetings from Radio London(December)
The Radio London Webmasters regret that currently, it is not possible for them to undertake major site updates, but they hope to be able to resume doing so in the New Year.
We feel grateful that Oldies Project is still giving us the opportunity to hear the Big L Fab Forties so we can remember being back in those happy Sixties days. 1966 is on the horizon and amazingly, new chart information continues to come to light, even 56 years after Big L's demise.
Right – A New Year '66 card sent to Mark Roman by Paul and Barry Ryan
We send our warmest wishes to all our site visitors for an enjoyable festive season and a happy 2024. Those who have lost loved ones will be in our thoughts, as of course will the musicians and the offshore personnel who have departed for the Great Radio Station in the Sky during 2023.
Chris & Mary Payne, Radio London Webmasters
PS Boom Radio has launched its annual poll for listeners to choose their favourite Christmas record. Last year, the winner was Greg Lake's 'I Believe in Father Christmas'. Will Dave Dennis and 'Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus' top the 2023 poll?
Happy Birthday, Birdbrain! (Dec)
In the summer of 1997, during the recreation of Big L aboard the Yeoman Rose, Tony was filmed visiting the ship with his great friend and fellow DJ, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart. Below are some stills of them with their old pal and Ship's Tour Guide, Mark Roman.
The 'other' royals in the news (Dec)
A CBS news feature reports on Sealand and its 'daring' royal family.
Former Caroline DJ Bud Ballou reports from California:
"This past Sunday (November 26), the CBS 60 Minutes newsmagazine program had a segment on Sealand, complete with interviews with 'Prince' Michael Bates and the only fulltime resident, Mike Barrington. They did a tour of the fort and showed the history with old photographs from WWII as well as the pirate radio era, complete with brief newsreels of the Mi Amigo and Radio Essex. It was fun viewing."
Fab Big L Photos (Dec)
Golden Anniversary of Land-based Commercial Radio
Our friend Penny Bowskill has kindly searched out a photo taken at the launch of the UK's first licensed commercial radio station. LBC (originally known as the London Broadcasting Company) went on the air on Monday, 8th October 1973. Penny and her colleague Caroline, wearing their 'LBC 417' teeshirts, are standing in front of Communications House, with bird cages full of doves. Penny, who was PA to the CEO/MD is on the right of the cages and Caroline, to Penny's left, was PA to the Financial Director. Once the Town Cryer had announced the station opening, Penny and Caroline released the doves.
Another friend, Paul Rowley, organised a conference at Goldsmith's, University of London to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of land-based commercial radio. Paul took the photo above of the blue plaque that was unveiled outside LBC's first home in Gough Square (off Fleet Street) on Friday October 6, 2023. John Greenwood single handedly spent five years trying to get the various authorities to agree to the siting of the plaque and Paul is proud to say that he wrote most of the wording on it.
Roger 'Twiggy' Day was also kept busy with commemorative events. He hosted a show on Boom Radio, where he talked about being the first voice on Manchester's Piccadilly Radio and he also made a live-link appearance from his home in Spain at Paul's Goldsmith's conference. Roger made another live-link guest appearance on the GBNews breakfast programme and has posted the interview on his Facebook page. You may find you need to increase the volume control slider at the bottom righthand corner. (Thanks to Pauline Miller, Jon Myer, John Hutle and Paul Rowley for their tip-offs).
A Loco Called Radio Caroline
Keyboard wizard and offshore radio enthusiast, Rick Wakeman, was the special guest who unveiled the loco's new nameplate on Sunday, October 1st in front of an enthusiastic crowd of supporters.
Frank and Kees on 192 Radio
Frank van Heerde and Kees Brinkerink host 'Offshore and More', a weekly show on Thursday evenings from 19:00 - 21:00 UK time, on 192.com
"From time to time, we will present an episode from “UK singles from this week in…….”, a series of over 200 episodes with lots of single A-sides from the years 1966-1969. Only the original, almost always mono, single versions are played. These shows are non-stop with the occasional announcement and jingle. This series is a shared production of Kees Brinkerink and Oldies Project, and the voice you will hear at some points is that of the late John Edward, Radio London DJ in 1965 and 1966.
If you have listened a lot to the offshore or similar stations in the above mentioned years, you will recognise many songs, but you’ll probably also hear some gems that you didn’t know yet. Anyway, (re-)experience the atmosphere of the late 60s!
The show's regular team: Production and presentation: Kees Brinkerink; guest presentation: former Radio 227 disc jockey Look Boden, sharing many memories from his time with Radio 227; engineering: Rob Schel
How to rule your own country
A yacht called Pirate Radio
Did Tony 'Bessie' Blackburn really say in a newspaper interview, "Harold first asked me to join him and move to the BBC, but I told him I was really happy at sea, with Radio Luxembourg." We doubt it! (Be warned, the feature is headed by a topless photo of Bessie!)
Footage of the Galaxy in Hamburg (Oct)
The Autumn 2023 edition of Hans Knot's International Radio Report includes movie footage of the Galaxy in Hamburg. Martin van der Ven writes: 'This short film comes from the archive of Kurt Sellenthin (formerly Kristkowitz) and has been kindly provided by Werner Tschoepe. With thanks to Ben Meijering for digitalising and putting the movie on line".
Go to www.hansknot.com and click on the oldtime radio photo to read the full International Report
Pirate of the Airwaves
Roger 'Twiggy' Day holds the unique record of hosting a daily radio programme since May 1966, when he started his broadcasting career on Swingin' Radio England, aboard the good ship Laissez-Faire. His unwavering commitment to his craft has touched the lives of countless listeners over the decades. Roger's long-awaited autobiography 'Pirate of the Airwaves' is out now. "It's been a long road getting it out there," he says, but he's pleased to report, "It's getting good reviews."
The book is available to order from Waterstones and other other book shops, plus Amazon.
As I said in my last newsletter, Life Begins at 70 :-) Cheers, Otway"
Upcoming gig list on John's website.
The Guardian did Otway proud with a feature about his Big Band 30th Anniversary Gig in Gibraltar. (With thanks to Jon Myer)
Francis's Annual Big L Tribute
On the 56th anniversary of the closing down of Big L at 3pm on 14th August 1967, I shall as I have done every year since, be remembering and reflecting on this quite extraordinary radio station, and its subsequent influence on what followed in the decades afterwards, although often imitated, but never duplicated.
I shall be forever grateful that you and Chris have kept the legend alive via the website for more than 24 years.
To paraphrase Paul Kaye, 'There is an unsettled outlook for tomorrow ', and so it continued….
Cue the Sonovox Big L theme…
Francis Pullen, Cambridge
August 14th and 15th
John Richardson-Dawes kindly sent clips from newspapers reporting on August 14th and 15th.
"Thank you so much for all you do to keep Big L alive. I still miss it! I'm particularly enjoying going through the Fab 40s, especially the lower 20s, finding those songs on YouTube and hearing things I'd forgotten over these fifty years!
Kind regards, John"
Click on the pictures to read the full stories
Music and Radio News in Brief (August)
Ross Revenge 'damaged by speeding boats'
Why Trojan founder Lee Gopthal advertised on Caroline and London.
The 'delusional' story of Sealand
Basia becomes Poland's First AI DJ
A Fabulous Forts View
Over the years, the offshore stations have on many occasions had cause to be grateful to the RNLI for their dedication and support through stormy seas and medical emergencies. Recently, the Sheerness crew was on training manoeuvres in the vicinity of the Red Sands Towers in the Thames Estuary. They have shared some great photos showing the views of the former home of Radio City that they enjoy from their lifeboat ALB Judith Copping Joyce.
Photo credits: RNLI/Vic Booth
Talking of the RNLI... which we were... Radio London has a full-page feature on the Walton and Frinton Lifeboats and the history of their Watery Wireless rescues.
In 2014 Mike Barraclough discovered some YouTube footage of a plaque unveiling ceremony at Walton and Frinton Lifeboat station from 1991.
Unveiling the Lifeboat Plaque
Music and Radio News in Brief
A Whiter Shade of Pale - more credit for Procol Harum's huge success is given to Radio London and Mark Roman
Caroline now operating on solar power
Another Sealand story
Final Beatles release enabled by AI
Tina Turner loved touring with the Stones
Ray's new book reviewed
"Although Ray is five years my junior, I could very much relate to the stories of his childhood, as we were both obsessed with music and radio from an early age and particularly loved the pirates. The difference between us is that despite experiencing a few missed opportunities, Ray followed his dream of broadcasting. He become a DJ aboard his favourite offshore station, Radio Caroline, during its later, Ross Revenge era in the 1980s. A long and successful career in land-based radio followed, with Ray winning awards for his BBC documentaries. Naturally, he has plenty of stories to relate and we have to be thankful for his bright idea that culminated in several memorable pirate radio recreations in Harwich, under the banner of Pirate BBC Essex. Despite officially retiring, Ray has continued to broadcast on several stations (he just can't give it up!) and has found the time to become an author, this being the third of his non-fiction books. As with his books about Caroline and the Weeley Festival (see below) 'Stay Tuned...' is an entertaining read."
Ray says: "Signed copies will be available via my website. I'd be happy to include personalised messages, but sadly, the UK price will be £14.99 to include postage and packing - European delivery price £21.99, US delivery price on request. You can also purchase Ray's two previous releases, 'Radio Caroline: The True Story of the Boat That Rocked' and 'The Great British Woodstock - The Incredible Story Of The Weeley Festival 1971' via the website.
(left) The official press release. Click for a legible version.
Bill Hearne's Post-pirate Story
It was sad to learn after so long that Bill Hearne had passed away in 1990. Of course, this was pre-internet and he probably never thought that anyone was interested in his offshore radio and subsequent career. Bill is best remembered as a Caroline DJ, but he did spend three months aboard the Galaxy between June (14th) and September (date unknown) 1966. Bill had been scheduled to join Radlon's proposed new 'sweet music' station UKGM (United Kingdom Good Music) operating from Shivering Sands Fort. He would have been working alongside Duncan Johnson and Keith Skues, but the venture was shelved after the tragic shooting of Radio City's Reg Calvert. Already in his mid-to-late forties, it appears that Bill's main reason for joining had been to become a part of UKGM and perhaps he was not enamoured of the Big L Fab Forty format. He returned to Caroline in early September and became well known as the voice of the extremely popular Caroline Cash Casino competition.
|The Pall Mall Catalogue
You will notice frequent references to Radio London's music publishing company, Pall Mall, in the Big L Fab Forties. Brian Long, author of 'The London Sound' (sorry, there are no copies remaining) has compiled the definitive Pall Mall catalogue. The book lists every song that was assigned to the company and tells fascinating stories of the writers and musicians behind the songs, including Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. The third and final edition has just been published and is available from Brian for £45 + shipping. firstname.lastname@example.org
Webby and John in Brisbane
Many thanks to John and Kenny for sharing the photos.
How a Ship Started a Radio Revolution relates a rather muddled history of Radio Caroline via a series of photos. View them full screen to read the captions that tell the story.
News in Brief
Award for Rosko
Congratulations to the Emperor Rosko! On March 20th, Radio Pluggers in California presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Radio and Media.
208 Couldn't be Towed
Commemorating March 3rd, the anniversary of the towing away of the two Caroline ships, Euronews reports on how the pirate stations changed the course of rock music. Unfortunately, the feature states, "One of the first examples of a pirate radio station was Radio Luxembourg." (208 was a station that would have taken some towing!)
The Western Telegraph has memories from Kevin Davies of tuning in to Caroline in July 1964, as the Fredericia sailed north to anchor off the Isle of Man.
A Short History of #17
Radlon's office building, #17 Curzon Street, has an interesting history, having been owned originally by the Rothschild banking family.
Baron True of Sealand
Wales Online reports on Dorian True, a businessman from Swansea who is both a duke and a baron of Sealand.
Visiting 'Bucket List' REM Island
The renovated structure now serves as a restaurant with 360-degree views over the NDSM Wharf and the centre of Amsterdam. Tony Lawther visited recently with his partner Angie and found it an experience, if rather expensive.
"REM Eiland is a great location and rather scary on the catwalks. Food is very poncey - tiny helpings on large plates with the waiter describing in excessive detail what each course consists of. Only two choices - meat or vegetarian, and you get 'what the chef thinks is good today', which may mean the same thing every day. We had very long waits between courses (long enough to go out and get a burger) and it was very expensive. We were also cold. They brought in a small electric fan heater for us, which had negligible impact. Although effusive in their welcome, they just left us to find our own coats and leave by ourselves when we'd finished eating."
Happy Birthday to Bessie
When this happened, they would alway exchange the greeting,
JP and the Double D
Dave Dennis, aka 'The Double D from Twelve to Three', became John Peters' boss when they both worked for the United Biscuits Network in Osterley in the 1970s. John recently paid tribute to Dave on his Saturday afternoon programme on Boom Radio, John's Jukebox, by playing one of the Double D's favourite records. John revealed that 'Walk on By', by Leroy VanDyke was one of two singles that Dave used to carry around in his briefcase, the other being 'Deep Purple' by Nino Tempo and April Stevens.
Aboard the Galaxy in 1965, the Double D put out an appeal on his Big L show for a copy of 'Walk on By'. We don't know if he'd lost his, or what, but we think the intention was that he would record it onto a cart and send it back. My friend (and Knees Club Official) Mozz and I, being loyal listeners, posted Mozz's own copy of 'Walk on By' to 17 Curzon Street. I gather DD had quite a good response to his appeal, but sadly, Mozz's copy was lost and she never saw it again. We wonder if Mozz's record was what DD was carrying around in his briefcase!
John, who is a huge Radio London fan, also played Dum Dum's theme tune, 'Marble Breaks and Iron Bends' on his Friday Fandango show.
News in Brief
Biggest Load of Tosh
This feature on the MyLondon website wins the Radio London award for the biggest load of tosh ever written on the subject of offshore radio. It claims that in 1965, squatters established a station on Rough Tower fort, called Wonderful Radio London. We're sure you have all had enough experience of panto to shout, "Oh no they didn't!"
Caroline's ship Ross Revenge could be returning to Grimsby
Press On Vinyl is well on its way to becoming the biggest manufacturer of vinyl records in the UK
Someone whose voice had been heard on the radio for even longer than Bessie Blackburn, died recently. Described as 'the world's most durable DJ', Reinaldo Maria Cordeiro, was known to Hong Kong listeners as Uncle Ray.
Tony King's life in the shadows of showbiz
Get Well Soon, Jon
It’s good to hear from you. I am still in hospital and still being fed artificially by a tube so no chance of getting out at the moment. Please keep the lads up to speed and hopefully next week will see some improvement. I am still controlling the radio stations from a hospital bed. I hope you are all well."
Chris and I send our best wishes to Jon for a speedy recovery and discharge from hospital and will be thinking about his wife Jan and family.
Jon in the Radio Mi Amigo studio aboard LV18 in Harwich, August 2022
Season's greetings, one and all, Chris Brisland
We asked Joe how a Baltimore band came to record a tribute to a UK pirate stationfrom the Sixties and he replied, "Any rock and roll enthusiast would have to love the 'Pirate Radio' story. We are an 'older' band and grew up listening to the Kinks, Beatles, Stones, Who, etc."
£1000 raised in memory of John Ross-Barnard
Donations made in memory of John Ross-Barnard, who died in October, raised over £1000 for Alzheimer's Society.
Meeting Pete Murray
In his foreword, Pete (left, with Kevin) writes:
A special show featuring, Pete is scheduled for BOOM Radio's Boxing Day programming.
Kevin also mentions TV Pop Diaries, a site run by his mate Tony Rees, which details British Pop Music on TV by decade, between 1955 and 1999 and a site dedicated to one of the earliest TV pop shows, 'Oh Boy' run by Geoff Leonards.
Interview with Kevin by the Radio Days Book Club.
...and talking of Pete Murray...
Circa 1950, Pete became an English service announcer on Radio Luxembourg, broadcasting from the Grand Duchy. After his return to London, he was heard on the station for many years presenting pre-recorded programmes. Joining 208 a little later than Pete, was Canadian David Gell. David's Facebook Page, contains a collection of fascinating photos with familiar faces from his broadcasting career, including Simon Dee and Stewpot. You do not have to be a Facebook member to view them.
Dusty's Google Doodle
November 11th 2022 saw a 'Google Doodle' appear that was dedicated to the late Dusty Springfield. It commemorated the date in 1963 of the release of her first solo single, 'I Only Want to Be with You'.
Seekers' success thanks to Offshore Radio
Our Down Under Correspondent, John Preston reports:
"Australian Story is a long-running series which this week was, 'A World of Our Own' – the story of how The Seekers and Judith Durham took Aussie music to a global audience. It was a really good documentary and a great tribute to Judith Durham who passed away in August. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ian Macrae interviewed and that Radio Caroline was credited with playing their releases and contributing to their UK success."
TW was, of course, promoting the music of his fellow Australians right from the start of Radio London and the group enjoyed many weeks on the Big L playlists throughout the station's life.
Many congratulations to BOOM Radio on the results of the October Rajar figures, which reveal that the station has doubled its listenership during the past twelve months. Appealing to the audience now abandoned by the Beeb has obviously proved a very good move on BOOM's part. We were not surprised that the station had a massive response to its August 14th Offshore Radio Day, featuring Johnnie Walker, Dave Lee Travis, Roger Day, Keith Skues and of course, John Peters, with his terrific presentation of the final Big L Fab Forty.
BOOM received 'congratulations' on the station's success from Sir Cliff Richard, who was at number 2 in the Final Fab on 6th August 1967 with 'The Day I Met Marie'.
John is back for another special on Sunday 20th November, to mark the 70th Anniversary of record charts. Simon Bates, Mike Read and Kid Jensen will be guest presenters on the day and John will be playing the first ever chart from 1952, compiled by Percy Dickens for the New Musical Express.
The Telegraph has published a feature about BOOM's success, with a very good photo of Twiggy Day, although we understand it is missing from the printed version of the story. In order to read the feature, it's necessary to sign up for a trail subscription of the online newspaper.
Nottingham post.com also features BOOM's success, although we are sure that Phil Riley and David Lloyd are not 'fiends'!
Graphic above from BOOM website
56 Years Ago
Hans Knot very kindly sent this scan of the cover of Jukebox magazine for October 1966 - 56 years ago this month!
Spilling the Beans
Steve was also going to be talking about the very popular offshore radio recreations from Harwich, Pirate BBC Essex. Unfortunately, Radio London has not received any reports of the event, but if you're in the mood for nostalgia, you can revisit our photo reports from 2004, 2007 and 2009.
WONDERFUL – there's that word again!
In collaboration with Radio London, BOOM's chart expert John Peters (left) presented the Final Big L Fab Forty, between 12 noon and 1400 on August 14th 2022, the 55th anniversary of the station closedown. John is a massive Radio London fan who took part in Big L '97, from Walton-on-the-Naze.
All our Radio London visitors are bound to have been immensely impressed by John's fantastic presentation of the Final Fab Forty, complete with both original PAMS jingles and new BOOM re-sings, all provided by S2Blue.
John says, "It meant so much to me to do the Fab 40. The whole thing was so wonderful, albeit exhausting, and quite a few folks have posted the show on platforms to listen again. I think I dropped two songs in all, but played those on my John's Jukebox show on Saturday 19th. The previous Saturday (13th) I played all of the last climbers that were allocated for DJs past and present."
Everyone at BOOM was more than delighted to receive the following email:
"Hi, I'm listening to Boom for the first time after finding out about your tribute to the terrible events of 1967.
Boom is a wonderful idea. Despite being a huge,well heeled demographic, baby boomers are neglected by most of the media. Creating a distributed radio station to address that market is brilliant. I love the sound of the station and will stay tuned.
Stephen Birch (son of Philip T. Birch RIP)"
|Tony's Final Fab
Tony Gillham, who, like John Peters and many others, launched his broadcasting career on the United Biscuits Network, also recorded the Final Fab Forty and has posted it on Mixcloud. The show includes interviews with both Mary and Paul Rowley.
|Cardboard Shoes aboard LV18
Radio Mi Amigo from Lightvessel LV18, broadcast over the August 14th weekend, was dedicated to the memory of John Sales. John was a devoted volunteer on the ship who died suddenly last December. Tony O'Neil and his wife Heather of The Pharos Trust, the charity that maintains the ship, organised a special lunch for John's friends and family.
|Cardboard Shoes, Keith Skues, on air in the studio on the bridge.|
|Keith with John's brother Roland|
|Heather's mother Caroline made a lovely 'Watery Wireless' transistor radio cake in memory of John, which was cut by Cardboard Shoes.|
|Jon Sketchley (left) and Garry Lee, manning the studio|
|Offshore Radio Collection launched on YouTube
In partnership with Ben Meijering, Radio London is proud to announce the creation of a new YouTube channel, Offshore Radio Collection.
Three major Offshore Radio events took place in 2002, 2007 and 2017. With the exception of the Radio Academy event in 2007, they were not open to the public, but many photos were taken, video was shot and now we have made the footage these very special occasions available.
35th Anniversary Offshore Reunion – Doggett's, London, 10th August, 2002
A Celebration of Offshore Radio – Sugar Reef, London, 4th August 2007
Offshore 50 – Tattershall Castle, London, 14th August 2017
The Offshore Radio Collection home page is:
See photo reports of each of these events via the links below:
Jon Myer from the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame sent us a link to a Youtube feature about carts of promos recorded by our hero Kenny Everett for Portsmouth's Radio Victory.
Jon says, "It's a bit long-winded, and uses a photo of the wrong radio ship, but you might enjoy it."
News Roundup August
Recordings on vinyl are currently proving to be too popular
James Eadie QC cites legislation that was passed in response to the advent of Sixties offshore radio, as an example of something that had a major impact on domestic law
Farout Magazine has a feature about a 1960 meeting between John Peel and a pre-presidential John F Kennedy.
The cast of the acclaimed Elvis film talk of misconceptions about music icons.
The annual 14th August tribute to Big L from loyal site visitor Francis Pullen
On the 55th anniversary of the closing down of Big L at 3pm on 14th August 1967, I shall once again be remembering and reflecting on this extraordinary radio station, which played a huge role in changing the listening habits and radio policy of a nation. I shall also be remembering the presenters, staff and management who are no longer with us, but forever grateful that Mary and Chris have kept the legend alive via their website for more than 20 years.
Cue the Sonovox Big L theme…
Francis Pullen, Cambridge
Radio England's Rick Randall writes from Florida
Your 4th July holiday greetings always bring a little extra joy to our celebrations here in the US. This year I am anticipating my final retirement from my daily live on-air and on-line radio shows, probably at the end of this summer. There are just too many personal issues and unfinished projects to which I wish to devote my time and energy. I do so with a sense of accomplishment for having created and built a local (legal) FM station in the past decade, now being run by one of my partners, and content to know it will continue to operate and serve the community in which I have lived most of my life.
I look back at my ever-so-brief tenure as part of the offshore radio phenomenon in your part of the world as the most unique and distinctive experiences in my life-long broadcast career, and am grateful for the continuing friendships that have evolved with colleagues and associates such as yourself.
Woody Harrelson is reported to be in line to star in 'Sailing', a 1970s-themed musical from Lionsgate and Rock of Ages creator Chris D'Arienzo.
'Sailing' is about a group of musicians aboard a yacht that hosts a Rock n Roll radio station, where they encounter yacht rock, a beloved smooth rock genre that captured the airwaves in the 1970s.
This rather unlikely plot bears a resemblance to the Richard Curtis comedy 'The Boat that Rocked' (retitled 'Pirate Radio' in the USA) which, as we all know, was about a fictional mid-Sixties British offshore radio station.
Queensland PiRATical RATS Reunion
Our Down Under Correspondent, John Preston, has alerted us to a broadcasting reunion attended by a few former pirates.
(Left) Walter with 242's John Kerr
(Below left) with Caroline's Graham 'Spider' Webb
(Below right) with Big L's Norm St John
Kiwi pirate Paul Lineham from Radio Hauraki was also present.
This story leads us neatly into a new three-page feature of clippings about offshore radio DJs on Australian radio: Pirates Down Under
Rewriting Offshore History
During the 23 years of running this website, we have witnessed some extremely inaccurate writing about offshore radio and have done our best to correct errors. However, nothing comes close to the piece of sheer fiction that Jon Myer spotted recently on the Essex Live website. The item, penned by Senior Reporter Holly Hume, states that the first-ever offshore radio broadcasts were made from the LV18. As we all know, Caroline and Atlanta were broadcasting from the ships Mi Amigo and Fredericia in 1964, while LV18 was in active service until the late 20th century as a Trinity House light-vessel and has never been a permanent home to an offshore station. As Jon says, this feature rewrites the history of offshore broadcasting.
Eddy Butcher has attempted to make amends with comments about Radio Caroline, the Mi Amigo and her current ship Ross Revenge, but the page is so swamped with adverts that it is quite difficult to find Eddy's correction. Even more unfortunately, it always seems to be extremely difficult to eradicate misinformation once it has been posted on the Internet.
NB Since this item appeared on Essex Live, it has been corrected, but sadly, we continue to see items on the net that rewrite offshore radio history.
News Roundup July
Liverpool's Beatles-themed Hard Day's Night hotel has acquired a tape of a 'lost' John Lennon interview for £3K and intends to share it with guests.
(Photo) Bedroom decor in the Macca room at the Hard Day's Night hotel. Presumably that's the Hard Day's Knight on the left.
A feature on the Ultimate Guitar website, Why The Rolling Stones Are THE KINGS Of Rock and Roll (and will be forever) sings the praises of the Sixties pirates and their influence on the music of the time.
Quality Perfumed Garden Recording
Rob's Mixcloud page also has several hours of recordings of Caroline from the Sixties.
(Thanks to Jon Myer)
"Reading the Fab Forty notes about the Disc of the Week for 210567, brings a memory back that has been hovering in the back of my mind as part of the listening experience that we all enjoyed in the 60s. I was listening mostly at the family's petrol station Red Wings at Alconbury Hill on the A1 in Huntingdon. While serving petrol and passing time, I was of course tuned to Big L 24/7. I never wrote down any of the charts but I do remember being a Neil Diamond fan ever since 'Cherry Cherry' and feeling so disappointed at his lack of personal chart success. I did keep a list of my record collection as it was growing and wrote "At Last" next to Neil's 'Cracklin' Rosie' after its success a few years later (1970).
Returning to this time 55 years ago, I remember a Big L DJ (unknown) but probably Cardboard Shoes, as I listened to him a lot. He explained that Lulu and Cliff had got together to extol the virtues of Neil and like me, were disappointed with his lack of chart success. They decided to record one of Neil's song's each. 'The Boat That I Row' and 'I'll Come Running' were released simultaneously to highlight his talent. I listened to Big L almost exclusively at the time, so the info is pretty certain to have come from that source. I did listen to Fluff on Sundays, but as his shows were so brilliantly fast and furious, I doubt I could have gleaned that much info in the time scale. As nobody on your fabulous website has ever mentioned hearing about Lulu and Cliff's decision, I thought you would like to add it somewhere. It might jog another memory and perhaps put me straight in getting the facts right!"
Please email if you want to respond to Mike
First Quarter Rajar figures
RadioToday reports that RAJAR listening figures for 2022 indicate that almost 50m adults in the UK continue to listen to the radio.
Our congratulations to Boom Radio on their 20% increase of listeners, to reach an audience of 290,000, which is impressive for a new station.
Founder Phil Riley talked to CEO Today about the station's success.
Record Store Day, Saturday 23rd April 2022
A variety of Fab Forty artists had limited edition vinyl releases scheduled for this year's Record Store Day, Saturday 23rd April.
The Birds, David Bowie, Ray Charles, Dave Davies,The Doors, Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Kinks, Darlene Love, Kenny Lynch, Paul McCartney, Barbara Mason, Nirvana, Keith Richards, Rolling Stones, Del Shannon, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Pete Townshend, Ike and Tina Turner, Scott Walker and The Who are all on the list.
Finally, there's the vinyl release of a Dr Who story, where the David Tennant incarnation of the doc travels to a monster-infested pirate radio ship in 'the late Sixties'. That would be Radio Caroline, then.
BOOM does us proud!
Boom Radio has done us proud! David Lloyd included a great birthday greeting for Cardboard Shoes in his morning show on Friday, March 4th.
On Saturday March 5th, John Peters included a lovely dedication in his John's Jukebox Show, in memory of John Sales. It was intended to have featured the week before, on Feb 26th, which would have been John's 70th birthday, but had to be postponed for a week. Unfortunately, Boom had suffered serious technical problems thanks to the battering the UK had received during storms Dudley and Eunice.
We are grateful to Boom Radio for allowing us to include these dedications on the Radio London site for the benefit of those who missed them.
There is more about the blips under Paul Kaye's entry in the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, where Duncan Johnson says: "Kenny Everett and Russ Tollerfield, who could 'read' Morse, spent all one night putting the sound effect together. Kenny splicing small slivers of tone on tape until Russ finally agreed to the 'spelling'....."
|Ben Meijering's YouTube Channel now features video footage of the major Offshore DJ Reunion in 2002 at Doggett's in London and the even more incredible Offshore 50 event in London in 2017.|
Back in 2002, when the team was putting together the 35th Anniversary Offshore Radio Reunion at Doggett's Coat and Badge pub in London, we hadn't realised just what an incredible collection of offshore DJs would be able to take part and make the event the success that it was. Ben was also there recording the proceedings.
Watch the '35th Anniversary Reunion' in 2002 here:
Photos from the 35th Anniversary Reunion here
Watch 'Offshore 50' in 2017 here:
Photos from the Offshore 50 Reunion here
Other Treasure from Ben's Youtube Channel
Album du Jour Dedicated to John Sales
John Sales's funeral took place on December 23rd 2021, exactly two years to the day since we had last seen him at our annual gathering for Radio London's birthday.
Get Well Wishes to Norm and Maureen
Our best wishes to Norm St John and his wife Maureen, who, Jon Myer tells us, have both recently been suffering from Covid.
(left) Ray Clark and his wife Shelley met Norm and his wife Maureen when they visited Sydney in 2018. Photo courtesy of Ray.
Jon also reported the sad news of the death of Howard Hesseman, who starred as DJ Dr Johnny Fever in one of our favourite sitcoms, 'WKRP in Cincinnati'.
John Peel's Record Library
Mike Terry sent us a link to a feature by Kevin Core of 6 Music, about John Peel's Record Library. The feature, as Mike points out, mentions Radio Caroline, but not Radio London, the station from which John launched his groundbreaking 'Perfumed Garden' show in 1967.
Musicians who delved into the late Radio London DJ's library found a few gems. The feature reveals that Damon Albarn was surprised to discover a record by Jeff Lynne's early band the Idle Race. (Kenny Everett fans will know that our hero always promoted the band), while musician Four Tet AKA Kieran Hebden, unearthed a rare, and very valuable single
"It was an original 1967 psychedelic seven-inch from session guitarist Caleb Quaye," he told Core, 'Baby Your Phrasing is Bad', with valuations online estimated at £950."
We have firsthand information from Raoul Verolleman that the single's B side, 'A Woman of Distinction' was played on Radio Scotland by Tony Allan, who had actually intended to play the A side. Does any former 242 DJ still have a copy? More to they point, do they realise how much it's worth!
Tony replied via his personal page:
"Thanks very much, I love the picture of Big L and loved the time I lived out there. Today's radio stations owe so much to that great Big L sound and wonderful jingles."
We couldn't agree more! Tony revealed in a 2009 interview with Mary Payne that he and Kenny 'Edith' Everett retained their Galaxy girls' names long after they joined Radio 1. If they met in the corridor at Broadcasting House, they always exchanged greetings of, "Good morning, Bessie" and "Good morning, Edith".
(Right) Bessie at Offshore 50
Radio in the News
Prince Michael of Sealand reflects on 54 years of the micronation's independence in the East Anglian Daily Times
New York had its own offshore radio station in the Eighties
David Hamilton, Boom Radio:
“We launched to speak directly to the growing discontent felt among the Baby Boomer generation – an audience on which the BBC has turned its back – and the results speak for themselves. Outside RAJAR, our own listener polls tell us almost three quarters of our listeners are former R2 stalwarts who are listening less to the BBC.”
Under New Management
John's current band, Da Management, has released a new CD, Under New Management and John has written a feature about it and who's who in the band
The CD has ten covers from the golden era of pop - 50s, 60s and 70s, plus two original songs, which have been written by band members. ('A Caravan on Canvey Island' extolls the virtues of hot dogs, candyfloss and lemonade. At live gigs, the audience enjoys singing along - Webmaster)
John says, "I thought your readers might be interested in hearing how a five-piece band with three brand new members managed to cope during lockdown.."
"Here is a link to the opening track, Radancer, originally recorded by Marmalade."
King Tony of Brisbane
Click on the small clipping to read a legible version.
|Caroline DJ Ray Clark, is advertising his book about the station history on Boom and we hope every one of the 233,000 listeners buys a copy!|
The Origins of 'The Story Lady'
Kenny Everett loved to include all sorts of quirky clips from international radio in his shows on Radio 1 and later, Capital. (Remember the adverts for Willard's Potato crisps – "it's what you eat when you drink beer"?) Jon Myer (at one time Kenny's Capital Engineer) discovered a site hosting recordings of another feature of Kenny's Capital shows 'The Story Lady' and says that according to a poster on Facebook, the series was produced by Mel Blanc. (Kenny became friendly with Mel's son Noel).
Our friend Ed Ryba in Los Angeles knows all about The Story Lady. Ed writes:
"'The Story Lady' came from a package called 'Superfun', which contained gag commercials, funny bits and The Story Lady. It was made available to radio stations that wanted to buy it. It was produced by my dear friend of 45 years, the late Gary Owens, and world famous cartoon voice (and radio actor, before there was television) Mel Blanc. The voice of The Story Lady was longtime voice actress Joan Gerber.
This information was told to me personally by Gary Owens (I used to see him quite often), so I would tend to believe its authenticity. I actually have one reel from the package (which had something like 50 7.5 inch reels in it) and was so popular that they made a second one, entitled 'Superfun II', which contained an equal number of reels of the same kinds of silliness, including a second bunch of The Story Lady. Both Mel and Gary can be heard all over both Superfun packages.
Gary did an afternoon show here in Los Angeles for many years, and he also used The Story Lady on his own show! Many years ago, I was able to find the music track they used on those segments. It's on the Elektra Sound Effects Library, and the cut is entitled 'Music Box'."
Your webmasters, Mary and Chris, used to love hearing Kenny's American horror stories and a particular favourite was 'Organs Hanging', which it turns out was actually called 'The Dark'.
Searching the net further, we discovered 'Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Chicken Heart That Devoured The World but Were Afraid to Ask'! Maybe an inspiration for Kenny's 'Thing That Ate Birmingham'?
Jon Myer shared a Facebooking posting from the Caroline Community group:
"An episode of the BBC Two programme Antiques Road Trip which includes a visit to Radio Caroline's radio ship Ross Revenge on the River Blackwater, will be aired this Friday, 12 November, at 7pm. The programme follows two celebrities and two antiques experts, driving around in classic cars, buying antiques and then selling them at auction. The celeb who makes the most profit wins. The show also features local places of interest and in Friday's episode Reality TV star Dani Dyer (Love Island) and antiques expert Philip Serell were on board Ross Revenge where they interviewed station manager Peter Moore. Dani’s opponent in this episode is her dad, actor Danny Dyer (Eastenders)."
Manx stamps honour Barry Gibb
The Gibb brothers have always been extremely proud of their Manx heritage and and the island is equally proud of them. A bronze statue of them based on their 'Stayin' Alive' video was unveiled on the sea front of the Manx capital Douglas in July 2021.
Our Down Under Correspondent John Preston drew our attention to Bee Gees Way, an art tribute to the Bee Gees in Redcliffe, Queensland, where the Gibb family lived after their immigration from the UK in 1958.
John says: "It is very well done and worth a visit to anyone travelling (eventually) down under!"
'Mark Roman' statue?
John Preston in Australia has suggested that maybe they are Mark Roman statues and having looked a bit more closely, we can see a certain likeness.
Paul Leaves the Beeb
Paul admitted to us that even after working in the broadcasting business for so long, he still gets a thrill of hearing his name on the radio.
Left: Paul attended Offshore 50 to report on the 50th Anniversary to BBC local stations nationwide.
(Thanks to Jon Myer)
The week after Paul's departure, we received the following email.
Hi Mary and Chris. It's the end of an era. Or maybe even, the end of an error. From midnight on Sunday, I ceased to be a BBC employee after almost 28 years with the corporation, more than 34 years at Westminster, and 47 years as a journalist. I've taken voluntary redundancy.
I am by far the BBC's oldest political correspondent, I've had a wonderful career, and it feels the right time to step aside after a manic few years covering three General Elections, Brexit and Covid
Away from the politics, the most satisfying things I've done have been the documentaries about the 60s pirates, Kenny Everett, and early commercial radio. I couldn't have done them without the support of the pair of you who've kept the flame burning for Radio London. It was only on air for a little over two and a half years, but it set the standard for modern day radio as the first with a 'Top 40' format, the best jingles and the finest presenters. Without Big L, I wouldn't have spent almost half a century in the trade. So thanks to you both, along with Jon Myer, and the two Mikes, Barraclough and Terry. The Radio London website and The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame are the best in the business.
I kept my announcement quiet until the day before departure, which seemed to cause quite a stir on social media on Friday when I did a round of broadcasts on more than 30 BBC Local Radio stations from 0630 to 1800. I got more than a hundred messages on twitter including warm words from the likes of Jeremy Vine, Martha Kearney, Victoria Derbyshire, Jo Coburn, Sybil Ruscoe and Iain Dale, plus some lovely messages from listeners.
I faced a "beat the intro" quiz on Radio Gloucestershire, a politics quiz on Radio Leeds, while on Radio Lancashire, a listener called Heather from Bamber Bridge phoned in, and started crying. It was like August 14, 1967 all over again!
On Radio Humberside I chose my favourite song, "A Day In the Life" by the Beatles, the last record played on Radio London.
A couple of offshore radio-related newspaper stories
The Daily Mail online writes about when Caroline 'had a bigger audience than the BBC', while the Rugby Advertiser comments on 'How the shooting of Reg Calvert ended Rugby's spell in the rock 'n' roll spotlight'.
John's 'Spotted Dick' List
Our Down Under correspondent John Preston and his wife Lynn have, unfortunately, been unwell recently (NOT COVID he hastens to assure us) and during convalescence, John got bored and put together his own 'Spotted Dick', sorry, SPOTIFY playlist based on the Boom Radio list of Top 50 instrumentals, plus a few of his own additions, which he thought might be of interest to our viewers. John says, "The only track I couldn't find was 'Man of Action'. No action there I'm afraid..."
Last Meal on the Galaxy
|With back to camera, Chuck Blair, Paul Kaye, Mitch, Tony Brandon, John Peel, Willy Walker, David Hawkins, Mike Lennox, Russ Tollerfield|
The fantastic photo above of the final meal on the Galaxy, was kindly supplied by John Whelton, Brother-in-Law to Big L's late Engineer, Russ Tollerfield and was previously on our Home Page for August 14th. John says: "Look at the time on the clock, far right."
|Arriving in Felixstowe, L to R: Mike Lennox, Pete Drummond, John Peel, Michel Philistin, Willy Walker, Paul Kay (lighting cigarette), Chuck Blair, Mark Roman and Tony Brandon (reaching) towards fans
(Photo by Terry Disney/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Brian Nichols of the Felixstowe & Offshore Radio Facebook Page explains that the main tendering by Offshore 1 transferred to Felixstowe in June 1966, but on August 14th '67, Radio London had to use the Gaselee & Sons tug, Ocean Cock, because Caroline was using Offshore 1.
Otway's Gig 5000
(Right) Chris and Moosie wearing Otway masks in Cannes, with the real Otway behind them to the right.
These days favouring the 'Mad Professor with Monogrammed Shirt' look, John has produced a daft one-minute promo for the mega event.
For longer viewing, there's a video slide show of photos right from Otway's early life to his illustrious musical career as Rock 'n' Roll's Greatest Failure.
There is a number of gigs to go before the 5,000th and these are listed up to the end of December on johnotway.com where he is appealing for any photos and memorabilia fans may have from any previous gigs
Over on Youtube, is some ancient footage of Otway narrating the musical history of Aylesbury, High Wycombe and environs.
The UK Festival Guides site posted this great photo of revellers at the Watchet Festival, 2021, with Pirates as its fancy dress theme.
Agama and Dateline Diamonds
Thanks to Mike Barraclough for informing us that the Radio London film Dateline Diamonds has been posted, as TW used to say, "in its entirety", on Youtube. However, we suspect that it will not be long before the film is spotted and taken down by the holders of its rights, so if it's gone by the time you read this, you will understand why.
Mike also tells us that one of the stars of the film, the tug Agama, features on the Felixstowe & Offshore Radio Facebook Page.
Big L Tribute from Francis 14/08/2021
On the 54th anniversary of Big L closing down at 3pm, I shall be recalling the on-air tributes and goodbyes that formed so much of this amazing radio station.
From their first day of broadcasting, I still remember the presenters’ exciting talent and enthusiasm, and the explosion of seemingly endless new music every day.
Pete Drummond summed it up well during the final hour: "We’ll probably never see the like of it again".
Big L was often imitated, but never duplicated, and that’s what made it unique and so well remembered.
We are indeed fortunate and most thankful that Mary and Chris have spent so much of their own time and resources publishing and maintaining the Radio London website.
Francis Pullen, Cambridge
Alan's New Fab Forty Mix
I have been compiling a series of programmes based only on the new entries for the Radio London Fab 40. I wanted to see how many records I had in my collection and found I had enough to compile 12 programmes of three hours each. Here is a link to the first of these weekly programmes Radio London Fab 40 New Chart Entries Part 1 I've rightly pointed out to my listeners that I've credited your brilliant website in general and your Fab 40 pages specifically as the THE source of these programmes.
In this the 54th year since Big L left the air I thought it a right and fitting tribute to produce as many programmes as I could. I hope you like both the programme and my comments about your awesome website.
Thank you so very much, Alan Long.
Red Sands Museum Project
Thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, says The Mail online, Red Sands fort is being faithfully restored and turned into a heritage museum which will tell its incredible role in keeping Britain safe from Nazi attacks. Kent Online reports that Structural engineering firm Structural Repairs has been inspecting the forts to see how they can be restored to their former glory and brought into public use.
In a new documentary on streaming platform History Hit, historian Dan Snow is seen touring the towers which make up the fort. He also speaks to David Foulkes, who is part of the restoration team at Project Redsand.
"You need to know two things to understand The Who Sell Out. When this album was released in 1967, selling out was one of the nastiest things you could say about a band. Yet, the early Who were champions of the three-minute hit single, a format that fitted seamlessly into the hype that was 1960s AM radio, in which commercials, station IDs, and songs formed a seamless, relentless whole. Radio London, the legendary "pirate radio" station that perfected the format in the UK, went off the air permanently a few months before The Who Sell Out was released. So, the concept for The Who Sell Out was at once iconoclastic and a glorification of the idea that the best pop hits were themselves brilliant commercials. The Who would sell out with slashing, sonic elan while honoring the station that did so much to promote them in the early days. Some of the commercials are great Who performances; there are even alternate takes of the commercials here."
Felixstowe Museum Reopens
Felixstowe Museum reopened on Sunday, May 30 as a Covid-secure venue.
A new attraction is the enlargement of the 1960s corner as 'Step Back to the 60s' in the Felgate Room, including a special pirate radio display by the Felixstowe and Offshore Radio enthusiasts.
Don's New Station
Roger celebrated his 55th anniversary during his regular weekday slot of 1800 to 2000, on Boomradio and on Monday May 3rd, he was reminiscing about his offshore days.
Many congratulations to both Twiggy and Johnnie on their outstanding 55-year careers. Johnnie responded:
Hi Mary & Chris,Thank you very much for your congratulations. I think we’re both very proud to have spent 55 years on the radio and we’re still there! All the best to you both, Johnnie
Above, left: Radio England's ship Olga Patricia, (NOT pictured on the North Sea!) was rechristened Laissez-Faire
Twinkle was aboard the Laissez Faire to assist in the station launch, alongside Julie Driscoll and Long John Baldry.
'Beanz Meanz The Who'
To raise money for child hunger charity Magic Breakfast and for The Teenage Cancer Trust, Heinz is issuing 415gm cans of beans with limited edition 'Beanz Meanz The Who' labels. Signed labels (which have already sold out) cost £57, with unsigned ones going for £5.49.
Being sponsored to publicly endure the discomfort of sitting in a bath of beans has become a charity fundraiser on many subsequent occasions.
|Dum Dum contributes to 'Who Sell Out' reissue
The Who are reissuing their classic 1967 album containing the PAMS Radio London jingles, 'The Who Sell Out' as a Super Deluxe boxed set. It comes with studio outtakes, unreleased tracks, early takes, and Pete Townshend's original demos for the LP.
The limited edition of 'The Who Sell Out' was released on April 23rd and comprises 112 songs across five CDs and two 7-inch singles, including 46 unreleased tracks.
Included in the package is an 80-page, hardback, full-colour book, including rare period photos, memorabilia (there's even a replica Big L Club sticker) track-by-track annotation and new sleeve notes by Pete Townshend. There are also contributions from Big L DJ Pete 'Dum Dum' Drummond and Roy Flynn, the manager of London's famous Speakeasy club.
|Dead City Exit
On April 12th, Mark Wesley (aka Mark West) was interviewed by David Lloyd on Boom Radio about his most recent book, Dead City Exit. He spoke about his long broadcasting career on Radio Luxembourg, but time did not permit him to recall his many stints on offshore stations Radio Essex, 270, Scotland and RNI.
Sadly, none of my own Top Three:
Along Comes Mary
Craise Finton Kirk
Love Years Coming
made it into the chart, but I didn't really expect that to happen!
Radio Caroline fans voted the Fortunes' 'Caroline' in at #51. Naturally, Twiggy Day was delighted about this and especially that several Beach Boys tracks featured in the chart with two in the Top Ten – 'God Only Knows', #3 and 'Good Vibrations', #7.
BOOM shows for Twiggy Day
Congratulations to Roger 'Twiggy' Day who told us how delighted he was to be invited to join the newly-launched UK station Boomradio. Roger broadcasts from his home in Spain every weekday evening between 1800 and 2000 and sounds as if he's very much enjoying himself. Saturday mornings, 0800 to 1000, Twiggy is emulating Brian Matthews' 'Sounds of the Sixties' and between 1500 and 1800 Sundays, he's delving into his personal record collection. Boomradio has now gone on the nationwide DAB system DAB+.
On Saturday Februry 27th we were pleased to hear him play 'Craise Finton Kirk' during his Boom Radio Saturday morning show AND he referred to it as'Craise Frinton Kirk' and explained that it was always known by that name on Caroline, as the ship was off the coast near Frinton-on-Sea. Twiggy also played his favourite Jimi Hendrix track and talked about introducing him at Billy Walker's Upper Cut Club on Boxing Day 1966.
The only ex- pirate on the station, Roger joins fellow former United Biscuits Network jocks, Graham Dene, Nicky Horne and John Peters. (Some of you will remember that John was also heard on Big L '97).
Fab Alan Field has discovered another UBN feature from the Telegraph.
Martin has also been collecting radios with offshore stations marked on the dial, which he has photographed for the site. His wife Ulrike says their home is starting to look like a museum. We know the feeling, as ours resembles a museum too!
Protesting outside Number 17
"Dave Cash And Friends Radio One disc jockey Dave Cash (1942 - 2016) with a group of young women campaigning for 'Free Radio London', shortly before the offshore station's closure, London, UK, August 1967. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)"
Obviously, Dave wasn't a Radio One DJ - the station had yet to launch – although he was working for the Beeb. He had long since left the Galaxy, but we believe he continued to host onshore gigs for Big L. Whatever the case, Dave still retained a Radio London connection or he would not have been protesting the station's closure outside 17 Curzon Street. All the girls in the picture are wearing their RL Club badgeand black armbands
Richard Swainson tells us :"The girls in the picture with Dave often stood outside Curzon Street. I cannot remember their names, but they were frequently invited in and they talked to any of the DJs that they knew were off that week. I spoke to them several times on my week off."
If anyone recognises their younger self in the photo or can give us more information, please get in touch.
The Life of Mike Lennox
Until recently, Mike Lennox's son Lucas had known little about Mike's life or his time spent as a DJ aboard the Galaxy, but he has recently contacted The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame and is now putting together a film about his late father and has posted a trailer for it on YouTube.