Oct/Nov/Dec 2011
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  The archived Happenings index is here...

(01/12) More info on Top Three artist Stevie Lewis
(01/12) Disc of the Week artists named after Chicago gangsters
(02/12) Revamped page
(02/12) New info about Gidian and 'spot the rl DJ's name' on a CD cover
(02/12) Album review: "Some will prefer speech of marshmallow out of pie crust for evening"!
(02/12) Unknown band Craig is worth a mint
(02/12) Collectable Pall Mall single
(02/12) Gary Walker in Fab 40 twice. Clockwork Oranges identified at last!
(03/12) Fab artists on the Cavern Wall of Fame
Caroline charts added for 031064 (02/12); 101064 (02/12); 171064 (02/12);241064 (02/12)
Site Updates


(03/12) A conclusion to the Big L 'Million Pound Drum Contest' story
And now, The News...

Radio London becomes a teenager!
It's hard to believe, but on March 29th, 2012, the website had been running for 13 years. As a Sixties offshore station, Radio London failed to make it to its third birthday, but its memories have remained alive and kicking and new ones emerge regularly. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the website and to those who have made such nice comments about it.
Mary and Chris

Thomas Odoard Marshall Lodge – Umi
April 16 1936 – March 25 2012
'At one with the rolling ocean'

Full Page obituary

Offshore Echoes has added its own tribute to Tom, along with an interview conducted with him in 1995. There are both English and French language versions.

David Thomas Jones
Dec 30 1945 – February 29 2012
"I’m who I am and I can’t change that"
Davy Jones, the 'small, cute, British' member of the Monkees, was born in 1945 in Manchester and in his teens became a child actor, appearing in the popular TV soap Coronation Street and police drama Z Cars. He then took a leading role as the Artful Dodger in the musical 'Oliver'. He performed in this role with the 'Oliver' cast on the edition of the Ed Sullivan show that introduced the Beatles to America. Smitten by the thought of being mobbed by girls, Davy decided than that he wanted to be in a band.

When Columbia Pictures and Screen Gems decided to shoot a comedy TV series, they auditioned hundreds of hopefuls, whittling them down to four to form what Fox News's Bill O'Reilly describes as 'a sitcom group'. Davy Jones was the first Monkee to be picked. The madcap series, with its catchy 'Hey, hey, we're the Monkees' theme tune debuted on the NBC Network on Monday, September 12, 1966. The four actors, who were immediately perceived as a real band, were propelled to the instant musical stardom that their creators intended. The first Monkees single 'Last Train to Clarksville' arrived in the US Hot Hundred less than a month after the show's TV debut.

Radio London was fast to pick up on the new US favourites. The Monkees' first appearance on the Big L playlist was when 'Clarksville' was picked as Mike Lennox's climber for October 9th 1966 - the same date that the record appeared for the first of its 15-week stay on the Hot Hundred. It reached #15 on the Fab 40 and by the end of October, had also appeared in the Caroline Countdown of Sound.

The UK was not far behind the USA in showing the Monkees, although US fans saw it in colour, while we watched in monochrome. It premiered on BBC 1 on New Year's Eve 1966 – the day after Davy Jones' 21st birthday. Billed rather blandly as 'A new film series for the young in heart', it was given the early Saturday evening slot of 1815. The BBC had scheduled the series to follow the long-running 'Juke Box Jury', knowing that it was likely to attract a similar audience. By February, the Monkees were probably gaining much bigger audiences than the outmoded 'JBJ'. They had secured a massive hit with 'I'm a Believer' and a coveted Radio Times front cover.

'I'm a Believer' had arrived as a Big L climber on 18th December 1966, two weeks before the show's year-end debut made its impact on record sales. The single took the Fab 40 top slot for one week on 15th January. Radio London did not keep hits at the top for long, but 'Believer' held the top position for 6 weeks in the Countdown of Sound. On the last three of those weeks, it was joined lower down the Caroline chart by 'Clarksville' – making a re-entry on the back of 'Believer''s success. 'Clarksville' also re-entered the Nationals.

Follow-up, 'A little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' was Radio London Club Disc of the Week for March 26th. It zoomed straight in at #2 on April 2nd and was #1 on April 9th, with 'More Monkees' selected as Album of the Week on the same date. On the Countdown of Sound 'A Little Bit Me' spent three weeks at #3.

The first part of Series 1 of the TV show ran until June '67, by which time Monkee mania was rampant. While the show was commencing a 3-month summer break, the band was mobbed at Heathrow by youthful screamers when it arrived to play Wembley Stadium. On Sunday July 2nd - the second of their stadium dates - 'Alternate Title' was #2 for the second of three weeks running while Album of the Week was 'Headquarters'. Ironically, the band nicknamed the Prefab Four was denied the top slot by John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Sadly, as the Marine Offences Act loomed, time was running out for Big L and for the record companies who had come to rely on it for airplay. A new 'Exclusive' category was added to the Big L chart for 16/07/67, especially to promote the Monkees' new release 'Pleasant Valley Sunday'. The official release date was 11th August but the TV show was on vacation and RCA needed plenty of airplay before Big L's demise. The following week, 23rd July (still unofficially released) the single was a Fab 40 #1! It remained in the two final Fab Forties and Caroline continued to play it post-MOA.

The Monkees was to become a much-repeated series which over the years would amuse new generations of young fans.

Davy Jones wrote three books about his time with the Monkees. In 2011, he, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork played over 30 US venues in their Reunion Tour and Davy turned down an offer to participate in Dancing With the Stars. He enjoyed starring in musicals and would have relished the chance to have appeared in more of them. Writing on the monkees.net website, contributor Jackie met Davy on February 12th 2012 and recalls the delight on his face when her friend Shelly asked him about his role in 'Oliver!' rather than the same old Monkee-related questions. (He had recently appeared in the musical, this time as Fagin.) "I could not only see but feel his face light up... as he launched into a little a cappella rendition of 'As Long as (S)he Needs Me', singing for Shelly not just a few bars but the entire song. He was that happy someone wasn’t asking him how Micky Dolenz was or which episode was his favorite."

Davy was clearly feeling fit and well with no indication of the heart attack that was to kill him. In an interview dated December 2011, he was asked if he had any theories as to why a lot of the people who were around in the Sixties possessed a longevity that many since then have not. He replied that longevity was all about attitude and desire.

"It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing at the Holiday Inn, or at the Ritz. As long as you feel good about what you do, that is who you are. I don’t have to prove anything any more. I only have to have to say to myself, 'Am I having a good time? Yeah. Do I feel healthy? Yeah. Am I enjoying everything that I should be enjoying? Am I comfortable in what I’m doing? Yeah. I am comfortable in what I’m doing.' I don’t care what anyone says about my performance or whether I’m good, bad or indifferent. I’m who I am and I can’t change that."

Bob Stanley Guardian blog; Life in Clips – Brian Braiker; British Pathé News Heathrow arrival.

Sad anniversary
John Sales reminds us

It's exactly a year since Swedish Radio Engineer Håkan Widenstedt sadly died of a heart attack while he was in the process of dismantling an antenna installation. A film has been posted on Vimeo which was shot a few years earlier of him at work at the Hörby and Sölvesborgs Transmitter sites. The audio is entirely in Swedish, but there are very good English subtitles. It reminds me nicely of Håkan and it’s quite obvious from the film how much he enjoyed his work. He must have been Radio Sweden's answer to Peter Chicago, or vice-versa!

Håkan contributed information to our Mini-memories page about Swedish group Mascot.

It keeps your hair in place all day
A one-sided vinyl disc of an advertisement for Vitalis – 'The greaseless grooming discovery' – sold on ebay on March 22nd for an astonishing £41.00. The 45rpm recording features the company's (Bristol-Myers) Product Manager Terry Parker, introducing a new jingle to be played on Big L by 'The Greaseless Grooms'. Presumably, it's the ubiquitous ear-worm, "Use Vitalis... pure and natural... It keeps your hair in place all day", which is trilled by female session singers, with a male voiceover. On the disc, Terry Parker also makes mention of a forthcoming competition to be promoted on the station. The hair product company signed up with Radio London in 1967 and Vitalis adverts featured in the station's final hour on August 14th.

As several people have pointed out, many of Big L's male listeners no longer have a use for Vitalis! We'd be interested to hear from the buyer who was willing to part with such a large sum of money.

It's all been tried before
A major international headline has been Pirate Bay's proposal to take to the skies by sending a drone into low orbit to house its servers, although the notion is regarded by many commentators as raspberry-pi-in-the-sky.

Sky piracy isn't new. It was contemplated back in June 1970, when Ronan O'Rahilly planned to launch a new broadcasting venture, Caroline TV, from a plane. From July of that year, the new station was meant to have transmitted TV programmes from a Super Constellation aircraft, but the project literally failed to get off the ground.

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has all the newspaper clippings.

The Pirate Bay story also prompted an entertaining New York Times blog, All Hail Sealand!

Watch out for the Blue Meanies!
From Beatles.com:
"Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including 'Eleanor Rigby', 'When I’m Sixty-Four', 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds', 'All You Need Is Love' and 'It’s All Too Much'. When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognised as a landmark achievement, revolutionising a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.

The film has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 28 (May 29 in North America). The Yellow Submarine songtrack album, which includes full studio versions of every Beatles cut that featured in the film, will be reissued simultaneously on CD. It was originally released in 1999 as an alternative to the album’s original soundtrack, which mixed Beatles songs with George Martin’s score.

Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film's restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.

Included on the DVD and Blu-ray versions will be a series of extras including a short making-of documentary called Mod Odyssey, the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, interviews with others involved in the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos." (Thanks to Alan Hardy)

The Busy Birthday Month of March

March is a packed month for offshore birthdays. Cardboard Shoes's big day is the 4th, Tom Edwards', the 20th, our friend and Knees Club Official Pauline Miller, the 27th. Radio Caroline is 48 on March 28th, Roger Twiggy Day (left), shares his birthday with the Radio London website on March 29th and his shipmate Johnnie Walker, celebrates the day after.
Many happy returns to you all.

Pirate Pioneer (or should that be buccaneer?) Les
New York 1940: Guitar pioneer Les Paul ran what might be regarded as a pirate radio station from the basement of his apartment block, for the benefit of the residents. Even 'Static', the appropriately-named cat, joined in with the broadcasts.

Mike Barraclough unearthed even more information. "Scroll down this page to a YouTube video with Les talking about the station. Underneath it, are more details. Apparently, it got out much further than the apartment!"

Another building dedicated to Peel
BBC Broadcasting House's Egton Wing, formerly home of Radio 1, where Peel broadcast for much of his post-Radio London life, is to be re-named the Peel Wing. Director General Mark Thompson said it was "a fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for." Staff are set to move into the building in the autumn.

A plan launched in 2009 to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into a Peel Arts Centre appears to have stalled, but the centre in Stowmarket, where John lived for many years, is thriving. The town's Corn Exchange building was refurbished to become an arts centre named after the legendary DJ when a £50,000 Big Lottery Fund grant was obtained in November 2010.

The John Peel Centre is to recreate the late broadcaster's home studio for an Arts Council project called The Space, where people will be able to browse through an online interactive museum of some of the former Big L DJ's 25,000 vinyl albums. (Singles may be added later).

John's widow Sheila Ravenscroft said: "We're very happy that we've finally found a way to make John's amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted."(Thanks to Alan Hardy)

Engelbert's already a Euro-winner
Choosing Fab 40 artist Engelbert Humperdinck as the UK's representative in the Eurovision Song Contest could perhaps be a winning move. In 1966 the newly-christened Engelbert won the Belgian Knokke - Heist song contest with 'Dommage Dommage'. Engelbert's competition-winning rendition spent 3 weeks on the Fab Forty playlist and five on the Caroline Countdown of Sound, where it reached #18. In 2012, the still-popular Engelbert takes the record of oldest ever Eurovision contestant.
'Burl your granny roon the bus stop'
ScotchPotch online magazine, billed as 'a mix of anything Scottish' has a feature on the nation's favourite radio station – 242 of course.

Dr Circuit discovers Big L treasure
Dr Circuit in Cambridge writes:

A hobby of mine is to restore vintage audio. One of my recent projects included restoring a 1960's BSR TD2 Reel To Reel Tape Deck, and with the recorder came a reel of tape. On it was a recording of a Tony Windsor show. From my web research I think it's a Saturday morning show.

I made a YouTube video of all the 'talky bits'. If any more come my way you'll be the first to know! :-)

I tend to sell 'geeky' stuff, lots of audio equipment, some electronics & computing hardware. If this of interest why not follow one of my sites? The added advantage is I have two eBay accounts, Account 1 and Account 2 and you only need to follow Facebook, Google+ OR Twitter to keep abreast of both accounts.

After a quick listen, we were able to establish that the recording - which is pretty good quality - was made on the morning of Saturday Nov 27th 1965 and features Dave Cash, followed by Tony Windsor. Great to hear and many thanks to Dr Circuit!

Dr Circuit has since completed further work on the tape and has uploaded the new, improved version to Youtube.

Border Blasters inspire novel
The true story of the origins of the Mexican Border Blaster stations that later became famous for launching Wolfman Jack, has inspired Toronto author Robert Hough to pen Dr. Brinkley’s Tower. The novel concerns the fortunes and eventual fall of conman John R. Brinkley, who made millions in the 1930s promoting his spurious medical treatments, including goat gland transplants purporting to cure impotence, via the powerful stations. Other advertisers who swelled Brinkley's coffers promoted equally dubious offers, including religious artefacts such as 'autographed pictures' of Jesus. (The book does not appear to be currently available in the UK.)

No Pirates Day but maybe an RSL?
The organisers of Dorset's West Bay Pirate Day Extravaganza have called off the annual fund-raiser event, but are contemplating running a radio station instead. "Back in the 1960s and 70s I was involved in the pirate radio scene," John May told the Dorset Echo. "This time it’ll be legal."

Another Red Sands Tragedy
Devon fisherman Wade Berryman lost his life after apparently jumping into the sea from Red Sands fort, the Sixties home of Radio Invicta, King Radio and Radio 390. His companion, Jason Madlin, was stranded aboard the fort overnight before being rescued by helicopter. The alarm had been raised when their 30ft boat, the Lisa K, had been found adrift in a major shipping lane. Story: Thisissouthdevon.co.uk

In December 1964, three men from Radio Invicta, boss Tom Pepper, DJ Simon Ashley and engineer Martin Shaw drowned while attempting to come ashore in Tom's boat The David.

Ross on the Move?
Chelmsford Weekly News reports that plans are afoot for Caroline's ship from the Eighties, Ross Revenge, to move back to Maldon as a local attraction, after a 20-year absence. Maldon MP John Whittingdale is quoted as saying, "There's not an awful lot to see any more, it's just an old trawler, but it is an iconic station. I wish them well." (Thanks to Geoff Tyrell)


'Changes' marks 50-year career
Beryl Marsden has just released a 24-track CD Changes charting her amazing 50-year musical career. It includes her Fab Forty entry 'Music Talk' and 'Who You Gonna Hurt', which reached #24 on the Caroline chart. There's also Beryl's duet with Rod Stewart on Shotgun Express's 'Could Feel the Whole World Turn Around' and a previously unreleased version of the follow-up 'Funny, 'Cos Neither Could I'.

(left) Beryl at the Liverpool CD launch, plus Radio London teeshirt. (We've no idea who those guys are in the background.) Photo: Keith Gunson

News continues on Page 2....

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