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        The archived Happenings index is here...
The News starts here.

(04/12) features on the Koobas and Wimple Winch
(04/12) Phased Del Shannon 'phails' to make impact
(04/12) We're back at May 1st 1966 and the start of Field's Fab Forties
(04/12) The Boston Crabs – correct line-up ascertained
(04/12) The Trekkas attempt to ID songwriter
(05/12) Tony Newley didgeri-doesn't make the Fab Forty
(06/12) Chart added from Belgian magazine 'Jukebox', that must have confused readers
(06/12) Tony Colton update and new feature on Sandy Roberton
(06/12) Boz, Bean & Leaves all updated & Earl Richmond's got the Uxbridge blues
(06/12) Features on Oscar and The Knack are revamped and updated
Site Updates


(04/12) Caroline Scrapbook 1: Fab Colour photos added to our Jimmy Smith aboard Caroline feature
(04/12) Caroline Scrapbook 2: improved scan of Steve Young's Shoreline Club poster
And now, The News...

June Birthdays
A trio of Big L favourites celebrated in June. Ian Wombat Damon (5th), the Galaxy's famous steward, Mich Philistin (6th) and Empire-ruling Mark Roman (16th). Mark tells us that shipmate Cardboard Shoes was in Spain to help him celebrate.


Save the Starlite Ballroom (updated 15/06/12)
Having recently sent us an item about the Ealing Club (see story lower down the page) Chris Edwards, webmaster of Offshore Echoes has spotted another famous local venue.

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

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

Albertina McNeill who is heading the campaign to save the Starlite is keen to hear from anyone who can help with information regarding the artists who performed there. She is particularly hoping to confirm the rumour that Stevie Wonder once made a personal appearance at the ballroom. email Mary, who will pass on any information to Albertina

A Day in the Life
A TV programme transmitted on the opening night of BBC Television Centre, 29th June 1960, gives an impression of twenty-four hours of an imaginary day in the life of the BBC. The sound track consists entirely of the announcements, programme music and the voices of artists and commentators and technical staff.

This film footage is from the Archive Collection held and administered by the Alexandra Palace Television Society. (Thanks to Cari Wilkins)

Bad News from Twiggy
Roger Twiggy Day is to lose his nightly programme on BBC Kent. He posted on his Facebook page: "As expected my programme will be axed at the end of the year, replaced by a national network show. My extreme gratitude and thanks for all those who have been fighting my corner. Your support has been incredible. Hopefully I will resurface somewhere else as I have no intention of retiring and love what I do."

A Facebook campaign to save the show continues.

(Right) Roger at Pirate BBC Essex, 2009. Photo: Jacqui Lazellé

Ray's Silver Sony

Congratulations to Ray Clark, on his Silver Award in the Sony Radio Academy category Breakfast Show of the Year, for his BBC Essex Breakfast Show.

Former Caroline DJ Ray is no stranger to gongs and has previously struck silver in the Sonys, Gold in the Frank Gilliard BBC Local Radio Awards for his pirate documentary 'All at Sea' and another year Bronze, as Best Presenter.

(Left) Ray during Pirate BBC Essex

David Rodigan's Golden Years
A Telegraph feature about reggae guru David Rodigan, who has just received a Sony Gold award, refers to his first being captured by the music after hearing it on the pirates. This prompted the following comments from Peter Young and Jon Myer, both of whom worked with David at London's Capital Radio:

David was a Caroline fan. We talked about it many times. He used to listen religiously to Tommy Vance, who often used to slip in a ska track during his shows. Rodders would listen to the whole show just to hear that one track. Wish I’d heard more of TV on Caroline – probably his best radio stint.

I was more inclined towards Big L, and tended to hear TW and The Double D championing the Bachelors and Val Doonican!

Tommy must have liked the music, as he later presented 'TV On Reggae' on Capital, before Rodders joined. Rodigan also listened to Stuart Henry on Radio One. He was the only person initially to play ska/reggae on the BBC from 67-70, before John Peel started doing it. When he did, Peel got the most appalling abuse from Edgar Broughton fans, etc.

Tommy certainly loved his reggae. I can remember him giving me a lift somewhere when we were working together at GLR. The journey had a soundtrack of booming deep dub reggae played at ear-splitting volume.

A few ska tracks can be found in the Fab Forty and lurking amongst the Big L climbers. Desmond Dekker reached #5 with '007'; the Techniques' 'You Don't Care' was Mike Lennox's DJ pick and both Millie's 'My Street' and Owen Gray's 'Gonna Work out Fine' were played as climbers.

Update, 07/06: Pirates Pioneered Ska
Howard Campbell of the Jamaica Observer reports on how engineer Graeme Goodall brought ska to the UK via airplay on Caroline and London.

Over 3.5m listeners love Sounds of the Sixties
In the recent Rajar results R2's long-running Saturday morning show Sounds of the Sixties (0800 - 1000) introduced by Brian Matthew and produced by Phil Swern, has registered a record high of 3.72 million listeners. (Thanks to Alan Hardy)
Cavern After Hours
"For every supergroup who enjoyed international success, such as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers who called The Cavern their home, there are countless bands who have been forgotten in the mists of time, but who had its audiences enraptured forty-to-fifty years ago. Cavern After Hours is the story of one such young hopeful, Barry Cohen, the bands he played in and the songs they performed. It reveals why the most famous nightclub in the world really was so special; the heartbeat of a generation."

Barry's website contains a wonderful memorabilia collection, some of which we have been given permission to borrow to enhance the Fab Forties. Watch out for new additions!

Highest Honour for Bob (updated 06/12)
America's highest civilian honour, has been bestowed on Bob Dylan. He received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. During the ceremony in the East Room of the White House, the president said "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music."
Dylan and his songs feature in the Big L Fab Forty too frequently to be listed fully, but they include 'The Times They Are A-Changin'', 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'Mighty Quinn' and 'Don't Think Twice It's All Right', 'Like A Rolling Stone','It's All Over Now Baby Blue' and 'If You Gotta Go, Go Now'.
The Radio London Chart for 12/09/65 features no less than five of his compositions.

Ealing Club Blue Plaque
Chris Edwards, webmaster of Offshore Echoes writes:

"Here's a bit of local music news from West London.

50 years on, West London's rich rock heritage has started to be recognised when a blue plaque was unveiled at the Ealing club on 17 March.

The club, now called the Red Room - opposite Ealing Broadway station, was originally a jazz venue, and in 1962 saw the birth of British R & B and the formation of the Rolling Stones. The plaque was unveiled by Bobbie Korner (widow of Alexis) the Mayor of Ealing, with Charlie Watts, Bob Harris and Tom Robinson in the crowd watching.

Afterwards, I saw 'Whispering Bob' being interviewed outside the club and I went inside to find local musician Robert Hokum playing blues and an elegantly-dressed Charlie Watts sitting by the bar."

Many thanks to Chris for the story and photos.

Links: Club info and an A-Z of of Ealing's rock heritage; pictures of the plaque ceremony.

Tom's Treasures up for Auction
Tom Edwards writes: "After much thought and advice from genuine friends I have decided to put all of my memorabilia up for sale. With my turning 67 this year and with all my family long-since gone, I got a tad paranoid that if anything happened to me folk would think my collection was tatt and it might be thrown into a skip. My friend Jenny took me and all my worldly goods up to Lincoln and the auction house. Unique-auctions will host the sale on April 29th and bidding will also be accepted via the internet.

It broke my heart to hand it all over, but hopefully some of it will go to into people's homes and I trust they will get as much enjoyment from my treasured collection as I have.
I 'think' I have done the right thing, but I do miss my 'friends on the wall', who ranged from Bette Davis, Frankie Vaughan and Bob Monkhouse, plus the letters and posters that are almost fifty years old. Wish me luck."

Tom has asked us to point out that he is no longer using any email address other than his BT one.

Photo: Jason Bloor

50th Anniversary Beach Boys Single
In the run-up to their 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour, the Beach Boys have released a new single 'That's Why God Made the Radio' written by Brian Wilson, Joe Thomas, Jim Petrik and Larry Millas.

Music Mix says, "It certainly has everything a vintage Beach Boys tune needs: Breezy harmonies, references to cars, and an almost exhausting sense of sweetness... Of course, 'That's Why God Made the Radio' isn’t nearly as great as 'I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times', but hey, it's better than 'Kokomo'.

Celebrity gossip site Holy Moly says the single is, "Better than any of us could have hope. ...If you're not convinced, give it a few plays."

David Marks, who played on many of the harmony group's early singles and is back with the Beach Boys for the tour, told the Montgomery News, "The chemistry has picked right up where it left off. I’ve been telling people that it's kind of like a family reunion... how we reverted back to the old days, the jokes, pushing each other's buttons." He added that the two deceased band members, Carl and Dennis Wilson will be, “With us in our thoughts every day. It’s a little bittersweet without them here. But their music is here and this tour is going to help their legacy."
Thanks to Alan Hardy.

Were you in a Manx band?
Andy Wint, author of the excellent Manx Giant from the Wonderful Isle of Man: The Story of Radio Caroline North 1964 - 1968 has been commissioned by Manx Heritage to write a book on Manx music of the Fifties and Sixties. He is looking for photographs, recordings and memorabilia and particularly would like to hear from singers, DJs and ex-band members from those decades. Andy also wants to talk to anyone who was connected to, or attended clubs and dances on the island.

In a video interview with Paul Moulton of Isle of Man News – MTTV, Andy points out buildings in Douglas that once housed the Palais de Danse, the Rendezvous Club and the Beat Club – all part of a once-thriving local music scene.

"There must be people scattered across the world who would have Manx Beat Generation memories and/or photos," he says, "So here's hoping.

Contact Andy here

(The video clip may take some time to load.)

Andy indicates the room at the top of what is now a block of flats, formerly home to the Beat Club.

The New Sealand Skatepark
Skateboarding dangerously close to the edge of a concrete sea fort and taking a leap into the air with just the sky above and sea below is not something many people would choose to do, but Chris Vile and other intrepid skateboarders took up the challenge. (Thanks to Jon Myer)

If watching 'Red Bull Access All Areas meets Sealand' doesn't make you too queasy, you can also view footage of the 2011 visit to the Principality of BBC TV's The One Show.

Other sites Techdirt.com and Theverge.com (which would be an admirable name for a site dedicated to skateboarding on the concrete edifce) are busy debating the reasons for the failure of the proposed Sealand Havenco project.

Robin Gibb (Robin Hugh Gibb)
22 12 1949 – 20 05 2012

Our tribute focusses on the Bee Gees' early career and the airplay they received on the offshore stations soon after their return from Australia in 1967 and Robin's enduring love of his birthplace, the Isle of Man.

The pirates had a good relationship with the band's manager and producer Robert Stigwood and aired their singles from the outset. Only weeks after the Gibbs' arrival from Australia, the pirates made hits of 'New York Mining Disaster' – #4 Fab Forty, #4 270 Fun Forty (#14 BBC chart) and 'To Love Somebody' – #7, Fab Forty, #49 Caroline Countdown of Sound (final chart before MOA came into effect), #41 Nationals, while the 'Bee Gees First' LP was chosen as Radio London's Album of the Week.

Both Billy J Kramer's 'Town of Tuxley Toymaker' and Johnny Young's 'Craise Finton Kirk' – singles featuring Gibb brothers' songs (and frequently backing vocals) – were in the Big L Fab Forty and 270 Fun Forty in the run-up to the two station close-downs and would invariably have become bigger commercial successes had the broadcasts continued. In 2008, Robin unveiled a plaque on the facade of Robert Stigwood's former home, where the brothers composed so many of their hits.

Robin is remembered fondly for his charity work, especially on the Isle of Man. He had raised funds for Rebecca House Children's Hospice hospice with his recording of the unofficial Manx Anthem, 'Ellan Vannin' backed by the island's King William's College choir.

In July 2009, the Gibb brothers were made honorary Freemen of their birthplace, the City of Douglas and the Manx Government commemorated the Bee Gees' 50-year musical career by issuing a crown coin and a set of eight stamps depicting the trio's album covers.

John Gregory, who interviewed Robin when he performed in a fundraising concert on the island in 2008, accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the Bee Gees wrote:

'When he spoke about the Island it was with a true warmth, affection and passion. "It's a beautiful place to be and I was glad I was born there,' he said. "It is almost spiritual because it is where the three (Bee Gee] brothers were born at Jane Crookall Nursing Home. It's very significant to us and a very important part of our lives. We feel that it is our spiritual home. 'It's the jewel in the crown of this planet."'

Robin will be given a private, family funeral near his home in Thame, Oxfordshire, with music by the Bee Gees and Roy Orbison and two favourite hymns. A public memorial service is to be held in St Paul's Cathedral in September.

Freeman of Douglas ceremony photograph © 2009 Douglas Borough Council

'Robin Gibb at the BBC' is available on BBCiplayer till June 4th; Isle of Man Charity Pays Tribute; Guardian Memorial story; Robin's version of 'Ellan Vannin'

Lord Glenamara (Edward Short) 1912-2012

As Postmaster General in Harold Wilson’s government in 1967, Ted Short MP will be remembered forever as the man who sunk the pirate radio stations. Edward Watson Short was born in 1912 and educated in Durham, joining the Labour Party in 1942. Short was elected to the Newcastle City Council in 1950, becoming leader of the Labour group then selected to stand as a candidate for the Newcastle Central constituency a year later, winning it for Labour and holding the seat for the remainder of his political career.

(Right) Ted Short launches Pay TV, Sheffield

When Labour won the General Election in 1964 it was with a slim 5 seat majority and Harold Wilson appointed Short as Chief Whip. An onerous task, especially when the Labour majority shrunk to just 3 seats, but Labour then won the 1966 election with an increased majority of 97 seats. The Postmaster General (PMG) at the time was Tony Benn who had been under pressure to do something about the pirate radio stations that had sprung up mainly in the North Sea broadcasting from a number of ships and forts outside British territorial waters. When Benn was made Minister of Technology in the new Government on 4th July 1966 the role of PMG was given to Ted Short who despite the popularity of the pirate radio stations set about bringing in the Marine Etc Broadcasting Offences Act that outlawed the stations when it became law on August 14th 1967. In a later interview Short admitted to listening to the pirates himself, especially Radio 390.

In 1968 Short was promoted to Secretary of State for Education & Science and so became a member of the Cabinet. When Harold Wilson resigned as Prime Minister in March 1976 it was made clear to Short that there was no place for him in the new Calaghan Cabinet and he was made a life peer in the House of Lords taking the title of Baron Glenamara of Glenridding. As a Lord he was soon to become Chairman of the still nationalised Cable & Wireless telecommunications company. In political retirement he wrote a number of books, received several honorary degrees and was made Chancellor of the University of Northumbria. He died on May 4th 2012 aged 99.

Obituary kindly contributed by Stephen Raindle.

Ted Short launches Pay TV, Sheffield

Christopher Gaydon – Chris Elliot
December 1953 – May 2012

"The moment I heard those first broadcasts from Radio London, I was well and truly hooked"

Chris Elliot, who was Programme Director for the Radio London recreation RSLs in the summer of 1997 and winter 1997/8, died on May 1st. He had suffered with ill-health for some time.

Chris's fascination with radio began when a new offshore station called Radio London arrived in the same month as his eleventh birthday. His dad bought him a secondhand tape recorder and he taught himself to edit tape and began collecting radio jingles, a subject on which he was to become the consummate expert. He and a school chum started their own 'offshore station' - the fictitious Radio Loyal, on which they practised their DJ skills. They closed it down on August 14th.

Chris launched his career proper with broadcasts on Radio Jackie in 1973, followed by numerous other stations and a move into production and voiceover work. While with the British arm of US jingle company CPMG-PAMS, he became the voice of the PAMS Sonovox jingles.

Chris spent a month in the summer of 1997 as Radio London Programme Director during the anniversary RSL aboard the Yeoman Rose, off Walton Pier, Essex. Under his direction, the authentic sound of the original station was recreated to perfection. During the broadcast, he became firm friends with Mark Roman, who was also on board for the duration.

Chris's book 'The Wonderful Radio London Story' was published before the end of the RSL on August 14th, to immediate acclaim by those who loved Big L. Chris also contributed to Keith Skues's 'Pop Went the Pirates' and Robert Chapman's academic work, 'Selling the Sixties'.

Later that year, he became Radio London PD once again, for the Christmas and New Year follow-up broadcast from the Ocean Defender in St Katharine's Dock, London.

Chris had a lifelong interest in building model railways, which he shared with his friend, ex-Big L DJ Tony Brandon.


Chris's brother Michael writes:
I would just like to thank you on behalf of my mother and our family for the kind tribute you paid to Chris on your website, and the wonderful messages on the tribute page. It meant a lot see how Chris was held in so many people’s affections.
The funeral mass for Chris was held on 25th May, and he was buried next to his father’s grave in the cemetery in Halesworth, Suffolk, the town where his mother lives and where he spent the last days before he was admitted to the James Padget hospital in Great Yarmouth where he died.
Family and friends met together after the burial service to celebrate Chris’s life. Those friends included long term school chums, and people he worked with over the years including Chris Baird and Keith Skues.
Chris was truly passionate about commercial radio from the early days of the pirates, when he listened as a schoolboy to Radio London, to the summer of 1997 when once again the familiar jingles drifted over the waves.
I would be grateful if you would add my thanks to your website so as to acknowledge the kindness shown at this sad time.
Thank you Radio London, and thank you to all who knew Chris as a colleague and a friend.
God bless. Michael Gaydon

Friends pay tribute

News continues on Page 2....

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