April/May/June 2010
Two pages for
Jan/Feb/March are here
The archived Happenings index is here...

Email Mary with your news and views:

Site Updates

The Radio London Tour, Autumn 66, starring Georgie Fame – with true confessions from Stewpot!
Our new Page 10 of Minimemories has a collection of Flemish-language clippings from Humo magazine, courtesy of Hans Knot.
And now, the news...

Robin Peter Smith (Crispian St Peters)
5th April 1939 – 8th June 2010
Obituary by Mary Payne

Crispian had been part of the local music business in Kent for almost a decade before signing to Decca. His first single 'At This Moment' arrived in the Big L Fab Forty on March 7th 1965 at #27 and hovered around the lower reaches of the chart till the end of the month. He was back at the end of November, when 'You Were On My Mind', which had been a US Top Ten hit for the Californian quintet, We Five, leapt in at #25 and climbed to #7. 'Pied Piper' arrived as a Big L Climber on March 20th 1966. It hit #2 in the Fab and #5 in the nationals, climbing to #4 in the USA four months later.

Sadly, 'Changes', the Pied Piper from Swanley's follow-up to his huge hit, only scraped into the UK nationals at #47 and the US Hot Hundred at #57. However, it did go Top Twenty in the Radio London Fab Forty, reaching #16.

Crispian St. Peters became Knees Club member #253 at High Wycombe Town Hall on May 17th, 1966 where he was backed by Lancashire group, The Puppets. He kindly gave the Knees Club gang a lift home in his Jag. My friends and I agreed to run a fan club for him, although this project never came to fruition.

In August of the same year, Crispian starred alongside the Small Faces, Dave Berry, Wayne Fontana, Neil Christian and the Koobas on Radio England's 'Swinging '66' tour.

In his later years, Crispian had been dogged by poor health and was forced to retire from regular performances due to a stroke in 1993. His last major public performance was in 1999 at Dartford, with the Fortunes.

Crispian's official website, reports that after a recent spell in hospital, the singer had said, “I don’t think I will be around much longer. Make sure that if you write about me, don’t forget the band, they have been the best friends anyone could have.” The best friends he was talking about were the members of his most recent band, Old Crow.

Among the tributes posted on the site was one from Keith Skues, who wrote, "I was saddened to learn the news of Crispian St Peters' passing. I have always enjoying playing his music from way back in December 1965. He certainly went through the wars health-wise in the last few years and bravely battled on... At least he is now at peace.

I will do a musical tribute this coming Sunday evening (13th June) on my BBC Eastern Counties regional show 2100 to 0100."

The Independent obituary by Alan Clayson.

Guardian obituary by Dave Laing.

(Thanks to Offshore Echoes and the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame)

Alan's Offshore Programmes Listings
Alan Milewczyk, aka The Pole with Soul, (pictured with Ronan O'Rahilly at the Radio Academy Celebration of Sixties Offshore Radio, 2007) says:

As promised to readers in the June Hans Knot International Report, I've finally started upgrading the Offshore Radio section of my website, the first major overhaul since the feature was introduced in late 2007 in the wake of the commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act.

I'm trying to help newcomers - if you've been on various mailing lists over the years, then you've gathered a list of sites that are useful. But newcomers often don't know where to look. It's very much a "work in progress", but I've uploaded the first section, Offshore Programmes and Recordings.

The spirit of offshore radio is alive and well and there are a number of stations broadcasting recordings of archive offshore programmes. Even more are actually recreating the Veronica Top 40 charts and the RNI Top 50 from yesteryear, plus some of the "old sea-salts" are still broadcasting, so I've listed transmission days and times. Finally, there's a list of a few sites where readers can access recordings online.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be uploading my "Guide to Offshore Radio Sites on the Net" and an "Offshore Charts" section – including the majority of the 1970 RNI Charts – plus finally digging through my photo archive for pictures taken at the various offshore events I've attended in recent years. A much longer-term project is digitising the 12 scrapbooks I have of offshore cuttings and notes covering, primarily, the period from 1964-1970. Heaven knows when that will start and how long it will take!

The site will be continually updated as new/revised information comes to light. With that in mind, I'd welcome any contributions/suggestions/amendments. If readers have any websites they'd like to share details of, then please contact me.
(Photo: Hans Knot)

Congratulations, Wombat!
Many happy returns to Ian 'Wombat' Damon, celebrating his 75th birthday on June 5th.

(Photo: Martin Van der Ven)

Excellent Maunsell Photos
For a collection of great photos of the Maunsell forts, including the remains of the Nore (right) a long-vanished companion construction to Red Sand and Shivering Sands, click here.

Photo © 2006 Hywel Williams

Save Analogue Radio
Mike Terry reports that reader comments have been pouring in since the Daily Mail published its feature 'Now tune into a scrappage scheme for your old radio',

and a national Save Analogue Radio campaign has been launched. You can click through to sign the petition via the Southgate Amateur Radio Club site.

Alex's Roger Scott tribute
Alex East has launched a tribute site to the late Roger Scott – containing some great audio, including editions of 'Brunch', Capital Radio's innovative Sunday morning satirical show. Roger co-hosted it with Paul Burnett, Jeremy Pascall, Angus Deayton, Jan Ravens and Steve Brown.

Alex now lives in California, but he originated from Mary's hometown of High Wycombe in Bucks. It transpires that, in common with Mary and Chris, Alex is a former member of Wycombe Radio and the studios at Wycombe General Hospital are where he gained his first radio experience.

Montréal's Marc 'Mais Oui' Denis paid his own tribute to Roger in this special feature.

On Saturday afternoons, it's 1965
Fab Forty compiler 'Fab' Alan Field says:

I'm just writing to let you know of a radio show that I've been listening to for a few weeks, that other fans of the "golden age" of music may be interested in tuning into. The show is simply called "1965" and it's hosted by a friend of Oldies Project producer Kees Brinkerink, by the name of Dirk van Dijk. Kees sometimes appears on the show too.
In each programme Dirk plays a specialist selection of hits from the current week in 1965. He generally features new entries in the US, Dutch and English charts, as well as some French and Italian hits and new ones in the Fab 40. It's always an interesting batch of records, and the show is a great listen.
It's broadcast (in Dutch) every Saturday afternoon, from 1600 to 1800 UK time, on Enschede FM in the eastern Netherlands. To listen online click on "livestream" and then, when that page opens, click on the word "hier" in large green text.

Kid Creole Collection
Webmaster of the Friars Aylesbury website, Mike O'Connor, has very kindly put together a gallery of photos taken by Mary and Chris at the Kid Creole Christmas Party on Dec 27th 2009.

The final Friars Aylesbury gig at the old Civic Centre before the centre's demolition to make way for a brand new theatre, will be on Friday, June 4th. Headliner is Paul Weller, with special guest, Aylesbury's own John Otway (see story lower down page). Tickets have already sold out.

Paul Weller played Friars with The Jam five times. The first time was 26th November 1977 when he played two shows including a legendary matinee (the only band to do so in the history of Friars). Further Friars Aylesbury Jam shows took place on 17th June 1978, 17th November 1979 and 2nd August 1980.

Peel is The Word
May 1967 was the date when the first surreptitious broadcasts of The Perfumed Garden began in the middle of the night on 266. It's an appropriate time for The Word magazine to choose John Peel as its caricature cover-star, with his portrait linked to a feature by David Hepworth, 'The Taming of Rock Radio – why there'll never be another Peel'.

It's a fascinating feature full of depressingly quotable quotes, such as: "Ten years ago I asked the Programme Director of one of Britain's foremost commercial chains if there was anybody on his stations who chose their own music. 'I hope not,' he said."

The piece does contain an error concerning Radio London. Peel – described by Hepworth as 'the indefatigable contrarian' – didn't arrive on Radio London in 1966; it was a year later.

Hepworth's article is also online and starts on Page 74.

A long-standing query has now been resolved, as to whether Peelie hosted any 208 programmes. He did – for nine months in 1971/2.

(Thanks to Colin Ellis, Peter Young and the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.)

The 'Arr' Factor
A world record for the largest gathering of pirates has been set in South Devon during the Brixham Pirate and Shanty Festival, where 1,722 men, women and children, led by Cap'n Blood 'n' Guts dressed in the appropriate bucaneer gear. Brixham is also home to a fullsize replica of Sir Francis Drake's 16th Century sailing ship Golden Hind, which naturally provides the perfect backdrop for piratical activities. The festival features a talent contest called – yes of course – 'The Arr Factor.'

The previous record of 1,651 was set on International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2009, in Portland, Oregon at the 4th Annual Portland Pirate Festival. No doubt, come September, they'll have cutlasses drawn in Oregon, ready to retake the record.

In other news, could this be the future of offshore radio?

(Thanks to Alan Hardy.)

Parliamentary Pirates (Updated with results 07/05)
"There is nothing more monstrous than politicians." – the late Screaming Lord Sutch, Founder, Monster Raving Loony Party

'Blunderbustering' instead of filibustering in the House of Commons? The May 2010 Parliamentary election saw people dressed as pirates running against former offshore radio pirates.

In the Cities of London and Westminster constituency, Pirate Party UK candidate Jack Nunn battled Mad Cap'n Tom, leader of the the British Branch of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The Pirate Party UK manifesto covers 3 main areas: copyright and patent law, privacy law and freedom of speech.

Rival Mad Cap'n Tom, who wears an eyepatch and sports a drake on his tricorn, has policies that include removing duty from rum, free duct tape for every household, and requiring schoolchildren to be trained in swordsmanship an' gunnery. (Duct tape? Or did he mean DUCK tape?). There's no doubt that the good Cap'n's presence would bring a breath of salty air to Question Time in the House. No doubt he would set up a plank over the Thames for any MPs caught claiming for gold-plated bilge pumps and the like for their weekend galleons.

Story on The Register

Radio London feature: International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Result: In the cutlass and eyepatch sector, Pirate Party UK candidate Jack Nunn (90 votes) beat Mad Cap'n Tom by 6 votes. There were no reports of press-ganging at the polling stations.

In May 1966, as Tony Merrick, the man to the left of the photo was a pop star whose version of the Stones' 'Lady Jane' was in the Top Ten of the Big L Fab Forty.

In 1967, as Stevi Merike, he became a DJ on Scotland's popular offshore station, 242 Radio Scotland. Looking decidedly hairy, he jumped ship to Caroline South in order to defy the government and continue broadcasting after the passing of the Marine Offences Act.

In 1970, Stevi was deputising for Tony Blackburn on the Breakfast Show on Radio One, and in 1971, he returned to Watery Wireless as a Senior DJ on Radio Northsea International.

Photo: Back with the pirates - an interview with Steve Scruton after his stint on Pirate BBC Essex, Easter 2009.

In 2010, as Mike Willis, he stood in the General Election as Lib Dem candidate for Loughborough.

Result: Mike placed the Lib Dems third in Loughborough with a respectable 9,675.

Defending his seaside seat was the renowned former pirate, Roger Gale. In the Sixties, Roger broadcast on both Caroline North and South, Radio Scotland and Yorkshire's Radio 270. Roger was first elected as the Member of Parliament representing Margate, Herne Bay and the Villages (North Thanet) in 1983. Appropriately, he presented a programme called 'Party Time' on Caroline South.

Result: Roger Gale retained his safe seat, besting Labour's Michael Britton by over 13,500.

Far away from the coast in Buckingham, Colin Dale followed his former Radio Sutch boss David 'Screaming Lord' Sutch on the campaign trail for the Monster Raving Loony Party. Colin, a former resident of Buckinghamshire, assisted his lordship in launching Radio Sutch. Lord Sutch himself (who failed an interview as a Radio London DJ) 'fort' 41 elections and formed the OMRLP in 1983. He garnered his biggest vote of 783 in 1994.

A couple of the party's more colourful manifestos were:

Motorists would be allowed to drive straight over a roundabout when there's no traffic coming "to make driving through Milton Keynes more fun".


Traffic cops deemed 'too stupid' for normal police work would be retrained as vicars.

However, some of the party ideas eventually became law. One of Lord Sutch's original campaign issues concerned lowering the voting age to 18 and legalising commercial radio.

The MRLP also wanted MPs' expenses allowance to be withdrawn and the money "in future be distributed to the poor and needy so that they can waste it instead." In light of recent expenses scandals, it doesn't sound such a bad idea.

A current manifesto proposal that:

All politicians be made to swear a 'hippocratic oath', preventing them by law from being hypocrites. They should be made to stand by their policies, or at least admit that they were wrong.

seems positively non-loony.

OMRLP advice on how to win an election

Result: Colin polled 856 for the MRLP – above 4 other Buckingham candidates.

In the interest of fair reporting, we must mention Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuit-Barrel of the Silly Party and Kevin Phillips Bong, candidate for the less radical Slightly Silly Party.

Ex 270, Radio Scotland broadcaster Mark West (Wesley on RNI and Luxembourg) has made a short satirical feature called 'Gordonomics' which he has posted on YouTube. It's about "the consequences of Gordon Brown's 'prudent' economic sleight-of-hand and how the citizens of a once-wealthy kingdom struggle to pay their debts."

Mark says: "It's already had over 3000 hits. It should give you a laugh... depending on your political point of view of course. Keep your eye on the £50 note!

(Thanks to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.)

Happy Birthday, Robbie!
Slightly belated greetings to Admiral Robbie Dale on his 70th birthday, April 21st. Robbie was a shipmate of Stevi Merike (see previous story), aboard the Caroline South vessel, Mi Amigo.

Many happy returns to The Admiral of the Beat Fleet, whose personal photo collection is here.


The end of a long quest
Kees Brinkerink, the producer of Oldies Project's 'Forty Years Ago' has finally found a copy of Sharon Tandy's 'It's An Uphill Climb to the Bottom'. The single, which was in the Radio London chart in July 1966, but withdrawn from sale by Polydor, was one of very few tracks remaining on Oldies Project's Fab Forty missing list. Kees writes:

"I am thrilled and proud to announce that I have finally found one of the most sought-after Radio London Fab Forty entries. I discovered the Sharon Tandy test pressing on eBay and I paid quite a lot for it, but I just had to have it."

The search for one or two elusive singles continues. 'Just Leave It To Me', by Big L DJ Tony Brandon was played as a climber during the final Fab Forty (6th Aug 1967), but remained unreleased. Even Tony does not possess a copy! Kees says:

"I will keep looking out for any form (acetate and test pressing) of the Tony Brandon single, 'Just Leave It To Me'. I’m glad there is a Radio London recording of it, so that we at least know what it sounds like."

Read the full story of the Sharon Tandy recording here.

Can 'People Power' bring back Pirate BBC Essex?

The Pirate BBC Essex broadcasts of 2004, 2007 and 2009 from lightship LV18 recreated the sounds and, most importantly, the atmosphere of the Sixties offshore stations. Former watery wireless jocks travelled from around the world to participate and listeners sent e-mail and texts by the thousands as well as flocking to Harwich to meet the DJs and join in the fun.

Now a petition has been launched for BBC Essex to present another pirate broadcast.

To sign it, click here and do not be put off by the page that appears, inviting you to make a donation to ipetitions. You may well wish to donate, but it is not mandatory to do so in order to add your signature.

(Left) Messrs. Blackburn and Walker enjoyed representing Radio London and Radio Caroline at the Easter 2009 broadcast

London Pirates' long-standing love of Towers
A new documentary by Palladium Boots exploring the subject of pirate radio in London, features mainly contemporary stations with tower block locations, but it does briefly visit the home of one of the original pirate Towers of Power, the Red Sand forts in the Thames Estuary. Red Sand forts were home to Invicta, K-I-N-G Radio and Radio 390.

The short film includes interviews with Robin Adcroft and Tony Pine, both of whom were involved with other offshore stations in the Sixties and Seventies. They are now campaigners for Project Redsand, which aims to save and restore the historic structures.

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame assisted the documentary-makers by supplying stills of the forts as they were in the Sixties.

Celebrating our Eleventh Birthday

At eleven years old, the Radio London website is beginning to run out of space on the cake for candles, but it certainly isn't running out of material. Even with over 1800 pages, there's always a backlog of material awaiting our attention. We aim to update the site weekly, if possible.

The Fab Forty, which we thought we had completed several years ago, continues to expand as new Radio London recordings are unearthed and musicians who appeared in it continue to come forward. There are also many remaining Caroline Countdowns awaiting addition to the Stonewashed Collection and several more remaining parts of Radio London founder Ben Toney's memoirs.

Many thanks to everyone who kindly sent birthday greetings. John Bennett wrote, "Yours is a truly fabulous resource, database, spiritual home and entertaining website that is the most highly regarded and much-loved one, ever!
Eleven years of hard work entitles you to be proud of such a great achievement. I look forward to the next eleven."

It's very nice of you to say so, John! – Mary and Chris, Webmasters (Photo: Martin van der Ven)

Tenth Birthday Celebrations

On March 14th 2000, we received an e-mail from Jon Myer about his new website, The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, headed, 'Another anorak hits the web.'

"After a certain amount of faffing about, my first attempt at a web-site is now on line. I would be extremely grateful if you could have a look and let me know if you spot anything wrong, either technically, factually, cosmetically or just the spelling.

The next stage is to add more names. I have quite a long list myself - including Ben Healy so, if you don't mind, could I borrow a few facts from your excellent interview - suitably credited of course? Other names who spring to mind: Norman St. John, Ric Dane, Guy Blackmore/Jimmy Gordon, RWB/Ross Brown/Fred Bear, Paul Noble, Tony Monson, Dennis Straney, Pete Bowman, Bob Walton/Lee Gilbert, some more of the 390 presenters and a gaggle of Caroline newsmen (Gerry Burke, Nick Bailey, David Williams), in fact loads more. I think that lot should keep me busy for a while."

Of course, the site has kept him more than busy. Ten years later (and a lot more faffing about!), Jon's original offshore acorn has grown into an enormous family tree and a section encompassing the Seventies stations is under construction. There are very few DJs that he's failed to locate. In 2007, Jon co-ordinated the Radio Academy Celebration of Sixties Offshore Radio and later the same year, The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame was honoured with a well-deserved Radie Award at the Dutch Radio Day.

He has also been a very good personal friend and has assisted the Radio London website on many occasions.

Well done, Jon and congratulations!

Plenty of Caroline Birthdays too! (updated 02/04)
On March 20th, Tom Edwards turned 65, followed closely by Johnnie Walker, hitting the same milestone on March 30th and of course we can't forget that Cardboard Shoes was 71 on March 4th. Caroline herself turns 46 on March 28th. Congratulations all round!

Tom tells us he was heard on Radio 2 recently.

I was a guest on the Jeremy Vine show on Thursday 1st April, talking about rehab clinics, etc. It's all part of my history now, but I do it in the hope it may help folk who are as desperate as indeed I once was. I did it live from an unmanned satellite studio in Boston, Lincs... a long way apart from bouncing up and down in the north sea, but I know which of the two I prefer!

Number One in Heaven (updated 02/04)
Sadly, we also have to remember that April 4th is the 15th anniversary of the death of Radio London's much-loved Kenny Everett, aged 50. Visit our pages devoted to Cuddly Ken here.

As March 2010 marked 43 years since Kenny left the Galaxy for the last time, it was somewhat timely for the BBC to announce that a docudrama about his life is already in development for BBC4. The 90-minute production is to be called 'Number One in Heaven', with screenplay written by Tim Whitnall, who won acclaim with his one-man play about the life of Eric Morecambe. Whitnall says he knew and loved Everett and that the play's title refers to the moment he first spotted him dancing in Heaven nightclub.
(Thanks to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame)

Dutch Caribbean Radio Day? Nice idea!
On a recent visit to the Caribbean island of Cuacao, Colin Wilkins from Leeds spotted a street sign that he felt should have been dedicated to a certain Caroline North DJ of a very similar name.

Colin says the island is "all Dutch and just like being in Amsterdam, apart from a lack of trams." He has asked Hans Knot to hold the next Radio Day there, as it's much warmer than Amsterdam in November, but he says Hans isn't impressed with the idea!

Lesley Duncan
1943 – 2010
Lesley Duncan, who died on March 12th after a long illness, was perhaps best known as the writer of the beautiful 'Love Song', recorded by Elton John on his 'Tumbleweed Connection' album.

She brought out a number of singles in the Sixties, including 'Just For the Boy,' which was in the Fab Forty during March 1965. In July of the same year, Scottish band The Poor Souls made the climber list with Lesley's 'When My Baby Cries'. She also released her own version of the song.

A renowned session singer, Lesley backed the likes of Dusty Springfield and Elton John and appeared on so many albums that her webmaster found it impossible to list them all. (She told him that it would easier listing albums on which she did not sing backup.)

On the tribute page of Lesley's website, Bob Harris wrote that she appeared on the first ever 'Grey Whistle Test' and recorded many sessions for his 'Sounds of the 70's' Radio 1 shows, while her friend and fellow session singer Madeleine Bell said, "Lesley is and will always be my little sister. My first studio session was with her."

Lesley's husband Tony Cox revealed that her own recording of 'Love Song' from her album 'Sing Children Sing' was playing as she passed away.

Guardian obituary

(Thanks to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame)

With Classic Album Covers chosen as the subject of a set of commemorative British postage stamps, Classic Album Covers in Lego is an innovative take on the subject.

In the case of the Lego art, the description 'classic' is geared to the taste of the creator, but there are a few good Beatle covers, including 'Legolver' and 'Leg it Be'. Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' is also a standout recreation.

Peter Young presents Soul Cellar
Peter Young Presents Soul Cellar is a 30-track, 2-CD set on Jazz FM's own label, compiled by the Soul Man himself.

D Wain's 5-star review on Amazon says:

As any fan of P.Y. will know he has being presenting his 'Soul Cellar' for 30 years on different radio stations - and now on Jazz FM on Saturday afternoons he continues to delight. This CD is a good representation of the sorts of things he plays - early soul, disco style, gospel, funky, jazzy – all sorts.

The compilation contains two Fab Forty Tracks. Both 'I Take What I Want' by James and Bobby Purify and Arthur Conley's 'Shake Rattle And Roll' were in the Top Ten of July 30th 1967 – at numbers 7 (Purify) and 8 (Conley). However, the following week, August 6th, was the final Fab Forty and in an effort to cram as many singles into Radio London's last playlist, the two Top Ten hits lost their chart status and were relegated to the Ballad Box.

Steve Conway's best-selling book 'Shiprocked: Life On The Waves With Radio Caroline' comes highly recommended. One Amazon customer review says:

"The great thing about Shiprocked is the fact that it describes the people, the surroundings and the conditions in such captivating detail – totally engrossing the reader in the action. Through Steve's words, Caroline staff who were just names or voices begin to feel like friends (and) you become familiar with the ship over and above the commonplace exterior images of it. The tough times show that life was never straightforward and Ronan O'Rahilly (the station's founder) remains as mystical as ever.

For anyone who has an interest in Offshore Radio, Radio Caroline, or just radio itself – this book is a cracker and I can't recommend it enough."

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