April 2003
(March 2003 is here...)

Back row: Howard Hughes, Mark Hall – IQ Beats, Nicky Schiller – Jingle Anorak
Front row: Johnny Beerling, Tony Blackburn, Chris Lowrie – LBC

Wham Bam, thank you Jam!

Who would have thought it? Apparently Tony Blackburn was the first person to have a name ID jingle. On that basis, he was invited to speak at the Radio Academy's recent talk on the role of jingles, 'Wham, Bam thank you Jam!' in London. More of Tony in a moment.

Howard Hughes organised the evening, and had recorded an interview with JAM's President, Jon Wolfert. It was very enlightening and great to hear such enthusiasm about jingles! But that was why we were there.

The BBC's Johnny Beerling gave a rundown of how the first Radio 1 and 2 jingles were put together and the reasoning behind them. He played part of a 20th Anniversary JAM CD, which also paid homage to the Radio 1 jingles of the time. Johnny played many examples, and the audience enjoyed hearing Duncan Johnson's dulcet tones promoting "Where It's At". We were also treated to a very rare recording of John Lennon and Kenny Everett singing "Where It's At" promos.

At the time that Matthew Bannister took over Radio 1, such was his misguided lack of enthusiam for the station's current jingles (my words - not Johnny's, but he implied as much and everyone agreed!) that the master tapes were consigned to the skip. Fortunately, an engineer called Nick Pitts, rescued them in more ways than one! Johnny also mentioned that there was a great sign at JAM – "Selling Spoken Here". Maybe some current stations should take note!

So, on to Tony Blackburn. He said he thought Johnny preferred the Radio One jingles to the records! Tony then revealed that when he heard the Radio London jingles while he was on Radio Caroline, he felt he just had to join Big L so he could play all the great jingles! Johnny Beerling agreed with Tony that Radio London had changed radio. Sadly no-one had thought to bring any pirate jingles for the evening, which would have shown some of the younger members of the audience why we pay homage to them and where it all started for the UK. One of the main points of the evening, I would have thought. Ho hum.

Tony went on to say that Radio London was definitely the best of the pirate stations, with properly-recorded jingles and not just copies of backing tracks with the station name over them. He said that he went to Tin Pan Alley to have his famous "The Tony Blackburn Show" jingle recorded at a cost of £50. However, he was quite scathing of British-made jingles, and said, "Go to America and learn how to do it!"

In Tony's opinion , "No-one in this country has jingle packages like the US. They're so powerful! We should get back to basics and spend money on jingle packages. The first person to go to America to make their jingle packages will succeed."

You can't argue with that!

Jam – THE Jingle Makers – www.jingles.com (what else would the link be?!)
IQ Beats – www.iqbeats.com – Mark Hall played some of his company's latest jingles
Nicky Schiller – www.NickySchiller.co.uk – Nicky is an avid jingle collecter, who shared some of his favourites
LBC's Chris Lowrie aired what he admitted were some horrendous examples from the early days of LBC, including ones written by Jeff Wayne, he of 'War of the Worlds'. Jeff obviously thought it was, 'War of the Radios' or maybe that was the only tune he had written at the time! – www.lbc.co.uk

A Starr is Born - an early picture of Edwin
Edwin Starr 1942-2003 – a personal tribute by Carl Dixon

Carl had the good fortune to meet the soulful Motown man who made his home in the UK

Edwin Starr, the great Motown legend, has sadly passed away from a suspected heart attack at his home in Nottingham, England.

He had been an integral part of the soul and dance floor music scene since the mid-fifties and the formation of his first band, The Future Tones, in 1956. He continued to be an ambassador of the Motown sound and remained a top-performing artist for over 40 years.

Born Charles Hatcher on January 21st, 1942 in Nashville, Tennessee, Edwin was raised and educated in Cleveland, Ohio. After completing two years of military service in the USA and Germany he moved to Detroit, the motor city, in 1962. By the middle of the 1960's he was a member of the artistes' roster on the up-and-coming Ric-Tic record label in the city. Between them, the musicians released classics such as 'Agent 00 Soul', 'S.O.S (Stop her On Sight)' and 'Headline News' which laid the foundations for Edwin's worldwide fame.

In 1968 Berry Gordy's Motown records acquired the Ric-Tic and Golden World concern, along with the labels' artists and Edwin suddenly found himself on the great Motown record label. In 1969 things paid off even more, with the release of '25 Miles' and in 1970, with the great war protest number, 'War'. Edwin was unusual in that he co-wrote a number of his big hits. His 70's disco hits, 'Happy Radio' and 'Contact' are still floor-fillers and are highly revered.

After living in the UK for many years, Edwin continued to record new material and perform throughout Europe and the US. He was highly regarded in all circles, especially the Northern Soul scene in the UK, where his fans would follow him to venues to see his electric performance, along with his great backing band, 'The Team'. He recently won a Northern Soul poll as both 'All-Time Favourite Artist' and 'Best All-Time Live Performer'.

I was lucky enough to meet Edwin in the early 1990's when he appeared with other Motown performers at a London venue and we chatted about his days at Ric-Tic and Motown. He was surprised when I enquired about his Ric-Tic colleague Al Kent, and took great interest in satisfying my hunger for more information. As luck would have it, I was privileged to meet him again a few years later, at a works Christmas party! He introduced me to 'The Team' and family who accompanied him on the gig and I felt truly honoured. Being inspired by many writers, producers and artists from Detroit and Philadelphia, I began to write songs about four years ago and recently sent some material to Edwin's manager for appraisal. I tend to write retro soul and had hoped Edwin might have been interested in one of my songs. In particular I wrote a Motown-style shuffle melody and lyrics that would have suited his wonderful style and delivery.

Edwin will be sadly missed and our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time. His music will live on and never be more appropriate than at this time.

Please visit his website to leave tributes and condolence messages.

Twiggy's 'Grim News' for the Golden Guys

Nobody old in this photo! Roger Day with Paul Burnett, Mary and Mike Ahern

See Twiggy in the 'hairy' days of 1971 here.

This week Roger Twiggy Day sent a message headed 'Grim News'. It read:

"My friends, old age is now confirmed. I was asked in a record shop if I needed any help. Damn cheek! Roger"

This sparked comments from many of Twiggy's youthful friends, which they generously shared with the rest of us.

Ron O'Quinn said: "Are you implying that they have made records since '74?"

John Ross-Barnard complained: "I object when the barmaid looks at me and says 'I suppose you want a glass?'"

Doris Allan wrote: "What's this "old" s**t? Much luv, Doris Allan. a.k.a. (in Native American) Crow's Foot.

Paul de Haan said: "I know what you mean. I am 50 now and young blond females of about twenty-five offer their help when I cross a busy road."

Chris Edwards contributed a whole list of "You know you're getting old when..." gags. The following three certainly struck a chord at Radio London:

You know you're getting old when...

...you don't require the latest mobile phone. Your ancient one that looks like a house brick still works perfectly.

...you refuse to pay 100 for a pair of trainers; the 5.99 pair is just fine.

...when the Nine o'clock News is the must-see TV programme and 'Top of the Pops' is something you used to watch.

Chris finishes with: "Personally, I seem to keep saying to people, you're only as old as you feel!"

Happy Birthday to the Hall!
To celebrate its third birthday, The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has some great gifts for its visitors. There are the ground-plans of Radio City's fort, and there is news from Ross Brown, aka 'Frantic' Freddie Beare aka RWB – last heard on Radio Caroline North just over 35 years ago.

The DJ spotlight falls on Tony 'Teacosy' Blackburn. A 3-minute clip from Tony's afternoon show of Dec 29th 1966 was sufficient to prompt some research on a couple of Big L Climbers, which resulted in an update to Field's Fab Forty for Dec 25th 1966.

New audio also includes a great clip of Kenny Everett on a Big L Breakfast Show and the voice of Ron O'Quinn with the very first moments in the life of Swinging Radio England, from May 1966.

PLUS! Benny - the fastest protest singer in the west!
Jonathan has also drawn our attention to a 50-track double CD from Castle Music, called 1965 – The Soundtrack, currently available from Amazon. 1965 - The Soundtrack contains 50 titles, many of them Fab Forty entries, including Keep Searchin', Getting Mighty Crowded, Give Him a Great Big Kiss and the lesser-known Diggin' My Potatoes by Heinz. In the year of the protest song, Universal Soldier and Eve of Destruction make strange bedfellows to Benny Hill's spoof on the subject, What A World. Jonathan features a clip from What A World, which appropriately mentions pirate radio.

Memories and on-line Newsletters go Missing

The Radio Wave editor Ian MacRae sends apologies for the non-appearance of the scheduled April issue of the newsletter, caused by a computer crash.

The Webmaster at Pirate Memories has asked us to apologise on his behalf to anyone who has been trying to reach the site recently. It has been unavailable due to 'a slight technical hitch', but is now back in full force and selling the lost Big L film as before.

G'day from Ian
Ian 'Wombat' Damon has written to thank us for putting him in touch with his friend from the Sixties, Christine Geltner. He writes:

"Many thanks for your last e-mail – have been in touch with Christine from the States and she e-mails me quite often now – great to hear from her after so many years.

Have also been in touch with Gordon Sheppard, whom I worked with at Capital Radio as well as Radio London, so it was really nice to hear from him too.

I am progressing and exercising three time a week with gym and swimming at a local golf and leisure centre – but I am not golfing!

It is interesting looking at the new details on the Radio London web pages – always something interesting to read - keep up the good work.

Cheers Ian D" [Photo: Ian (back) with Big L chums Purpleknees Edward, (left) Willy Walker and Cardboard Shoes (front)]

Bob Recalls RNI 1999
In Bob le Roi's latest site update The Scrapbook has Bob's recollections of partcipating in the first commemorative broadcast of RNI (Radio Northsea International) from the LV18 in 1999, while the new 'One Subject One Link' explores the 'Familiarity Factor'.

Bob points out that constructive views, comments, and contributions from visitors are always welcome, but anonymous mail will be ignored.

X Marks the Spot – The Wolfman Remembered

In 1999, Howie Castle took Webmasters Chris and Mary across the Mexican border from California, to pay homage to the original site where Wolfman Jack had once broadcast from XERB. Now a shopping plaza, the former XERB site contains a 'mini-mast' and a plaque commemorating the Wolfman and the station.

Now the Texan town of Del Rio "The Best of the Border – where Old Mexico meets the New West" – is to erect a statue to honour the Wolfman, one of America's best-loved DJs, who died in 1995.The howling hero's rock 'n' roll radio career was launched via the Mexican 'border-blaster' stations.

(Left: the mini-mast at the former XERB site)

Locals have already had the chance to preview a miniature version of the statue, by sculptor Michael Maiden, which was unveiled during a recent music festival held in honour of the Wolfman.

The full-sized sculpture will be unveiled on October 31st – a date known appropriately in the US as 'howl-lowe'en'.

Wolfman Jack website here; Del Rio Chamber of Commerce site here.

(Thanks to Mike Terry for alerting us to this story)

Laments From the USA (updated from March)

John Schneider's Radiopoly (pronounced ray-dee-OP-a-lee) site tells how the Recording Industry Association of America is in the midst of a full-scale assault. Says John: "If you care at all about the continued freedom of small businesses to operate on the Internet, you'll tell everyone you know about Radiopoly.Org!" John, who also operates radiopoly.com would appreciate any feedback, especially from overseas visitors. Radiopoly clothing and merchandise is now available.

Meanwhile, Howie Castle alerted us to a feature by Guy Zapoleon of Zapoleon Media Strategies, dated 20th Feb 2003. In the article titled, 'Will Radio Get Better?', Guy writes:

Do you ever feel like you're in a horror movie - just when you think things can't get worse something even more horrible happens! Well that's the way I feel looking at radio today. If anyone had told that 13 year old kid who listened to his transistor in the 60's that radio would be dealing with this sad state of affairs I would have put my head in my hands and just cried.
So would we! Guy's article is bound to strike a chord with all our Radio London visitors, and can be read in full here, and watch out for Part Two.

Back to 'Kneesflashes'