Two pages for
July/Aug/Sept 2009

Two pages for
April/May/June are here
The archived Happenings index is here...

Site Updates
Photo report from the Manx 'Pirates of the Irish Sea' exhibition, which ended 23rd August 2009.
Manx youngsters enjoyed dressing up for their April visit – Schoolchildren get in the groove of the swinging 60s
(updated July 11th ) Photo montage from 'The Sound of the Nation' live
And now, the news... (don't forget Page 2)

Simon Dee (Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd)
28th July 1935 – 29th August 2009
Pioneering Radio Caroline broadcaster between 1964 and 1965

Many obituaries have been written for Simon, but we felt the best tribute we could pay him would be to quote his own description of presenting his first programme on Caroline, taken from 'The Simon Dee Book' (published by Purnell, 1968).

The station's test transmissions had consisted of prerecorded programmes. At the launch, Simon admitted to being scared stiff, but this was not merely because he was presenting the station's first live show. No one had any idea how well Caroline would go down with the public, or indeed if the government could and would intervene. Might they take the station off the air, impound the ship, arrest the staff and throw them all in jail? Everything was unknown and much was at stake.

Click on the Caroline Bell to read Simon's recollection of his feelings on March 28th 1964 at noon, when he made that first live announcement. There are also tributes from friends and links to newspaper obituaries.

Ellie (Eleanor Louise) Greenwich
23 October 1940 – 25 August 2009

As a talented singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer, Ellie's work featured regularly in both the Big L Fab Forty, Caroline Countdown of Sound and UK National charts. Caroline's Graham Webb has recorded his own tribute to Ellie, which he has kindly allowed us to share with our site visitors.

Rolling Stone obituary. (How very unpleasant to see that pointlessly negative, nasty comments have been posted among the tributes – and that the Rolling Stone moderators did not think fit to reject them. Allowing morons to attempt to invoke arguments on a tribute page, is extremely tasteless and a sad indication of the callous world that we now inhabit.)

LA Times obituary
any obit

Forts in the News
Both Sealand... and Red Sand...
and talking of forts, there's the story of Reg Calvert and the acts he managed, with contributions and photos from his widow Dorothy and daughter Susan.
Radio London Kneesflashes
Jon Myer from the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has spotted an offshore face in a 1996 TV drama. The serialised dramatisation of Ian Banks's 'Crow Road', being repeated on BBC4 on Wednesdays at 2200. The drama features 242's Paul Young as Uncle Hamish.

A new species of spider has been named after the Knees Club's most famous member, David Bowie. If a spider has eight legs, does that mean it has eight knees?

Mike Barraclough noticed a painting of the Galaxy on Tony Blackburn's Twitter site (Maybe a Twitter site should be a called a Bird Box

Ian Loves the Big L Fab Forty – and he's not alone!
Dear Mary and Chris,
Just writing to thank you all at the site for the second time, for the Field's Fab Forties. I wrote to you when I first discovered the site, and how great it was to be able to see what tracks Big L was playing in any particular week. It's been especially relevant in the week just gone, and, using the Last Big L Top 40, I've been able to play as many of the tracks in that chart that I actually own, so I've been travelling to and from work with Johnny Young, The Young Rascals, Keith West and many others, all ringing in my ears, complete with Radio London jingles, and Kenny Everett's promos! I can't tell you how useful and really enjoyable it is to be able to play exactly the records Big L was playing at the time.

I was only 7 years old when Radio London went off, so was too young to have experienced offshore radio. Granted, I did listen to RNI, Atlantis, and the "new" Caroline in the Seventies, but I knew that they weren't quite the same as the Sixties pirates. Your Final Big L chart has really made me feel this week like it was 1967 again - even though I can barely remember it the first time round!

Over the years, I've collected every Sixties track to have made the Top 20 (mostly via CD) - now your Fab 40 pages have given me a new incentive, which is to collect as many of my favourite Big L chart entries as I can! You might be interested to know that I found a track I've been searching for for years which, being in the final chart, has special significance - namely "Love Years Coming" by The Strawberry Children. I found it on a 10-CD box set which cost £41, but as far as I'm concerned, money well spent. I saw it in HMV and had to restrain myself from punching the air in delight!

Incidentally, I was playing back Dave Cash's rundown of the Final Fab Forty (as broadcast on Pirate BBC Essex in 2007 – I recorded the entire show off air) and heard that "Love Years Coming" was also your favourite pick from that chart! I agree – had Big L been around longer to give it that extra push that summer, I'm certain it would have gone Top 10 in the national charts. I'm stilll trying to search out those rarer tracks that I don't have from this particular chart, but the "capture" of The Strawberry Children track has been my biggest success!

Thanks once again for the lists, and for the site generally. Much as I like some of the other stations, Radio London certainly was THE best, and had I been old enough, that would have been the station I would have listened to. I got my first radio in 1970 – if only the ships and forts had held on till then! At least we might have another Pirate BBC Essex at some time in the future.

Thanks again, and lots of us out here appreciate the work you're doing on the site – Radio London Lives On!

Ian Morgan, Billericay, Essex

"So warm and cheerful and full of love and soul"

The Oldies Project Fab Forty twice-weekly broadcasts continue to attract new and appreciative listeners. The following two comments were posted recently in their Guestbook.

From a listener in Cheltenham:
"Can't believe I am listening to a complete and uninterrupted Fab 40 from 43 years ago. What memories! Keep up the good work, this is real public service broadcasting!

From a listener in Ireland:
"I have just found this show while browsing and although I was a couple of weeks old when it was originally aired I can't help loving this old music – it is just so warm and cheerful and full of love and soul! I am recording this to play in the car so I can arrive in work full of joy – if that's possible."

Click on the picture for info

"You Dog! You Son of a ****! You Speckled-Shirt Dog!" – Pirate Curse, 1722
Yes, Septembaaaar 19th and International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is that time of year when nobody in the world needs an excuse to don their favourite Captain Jack Sparrow wig and take a cutlass into work to aid with negotiating that long-awaited pay-rise with the boss.

ITLAPD started in 2002 and gets bigger every year. Our old sea dog friends (and Honoraaaary Anaaaarrraks) the pirate guys, Mark 'Cap'n Slappy' Summers and John 'Ol' Chumbucket' Baur, want to know how you celebrated, so they can post the details on their site. They have individual sections for each participating country and are particularly interested in hearing about ITLAPD events arrrrganised in aid of good causes. They'd also like you to buy copies of their new book, 'The Pirate Life – unleashing your inner Buccaneer'.

Should you decide to amuse the aforementioned boss with a selection of gangplank gags prior to running him through, you can visit or twittaaaaar. Unfortunately, they don't get much better than, 'What goes thump-thump Arr!, thump-thump Arr!? A pirate falling down the stairs.'

'Bootylicious – What do the pirates of yore tell us about their modern counterparts?' is a 4-page New Yorker review by Caleb Crain of 'The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates' by Peter T Leeson. The piece and Crain's subsequent blog are a mine of information on the subject of high seas buccaneering. As there were only four known female pirates, the on-board ambience of a pirate ship was, according to Leeson, "energetic and testosterone filled, probably similar to a college fraternity only with peglegs, fewer teeth, and pistol duelling". Sounds a bit like the Sixties offshore stations!

Some believe that talking like a pirate is is not a worthy cause for celebration, but the New York Times thought otherwise. Their Crossword Puzzle on Sept 19 2008, featured two piratical clues. 31 across was 'talklikeapirateday' while 8 down was 'shivermetimbers'.

Meanwhile (with his eyepatch fixed on Hallowe'en) Tom Smith has combined the unlikely themes of brain-eating undead and hook-wearing shipmates with true romance, in his song Zombie Pirates in Love.

A large number of ex-offshore radio pirates, all experts on Marine Offences, be appearin' in our special Radio London ILAPD Supplement, presented by PARROT – Pirate Anoraks Revere Real Offshore Terminology. They represent Radio Caroline North and South, City, Essex, London, 270, Scotland and RNI. We even have renegades from the land-bound Radio Luxembourg!

A trio of Radio London Kneesflashes
Raoul Verolleman in Belgium has been interviewed by Tim Gillett about his trip to Radio Scotland in July 1967. It was heard on Tim's Pirate BBC Essex programme Sunday September 6.

REM Island: Recycling Pirate Architecture is a feature about plans for the famous Dutch offshore platform.

Pirate Cat Radio in San Francisco
"Local commercial radio is mostly a bad joke, run from corporations in other cities who choose the programming. Many radio show hosts don't live or haven't even been to San Francisco. College radio and pirate radio helps us all breathe a sigh of relief with local programming and live local DJs."

Edwards the Confessor
Tom Edwards writes:

BBC Radio Norfolk broadcast 'Edwards The Confessor' on Monday the 31st August, 1600 to 1700, in which I chatted to the station boss man (also a good friend) David Clayton, about my professional and very personal life. Following that I presented a 2 hour show live from Norwich at the BBC studios  at The Forum.

So I was following myself in a way – and I'm a hard act to follow!

If you can see past the dodgy pop-ups, Edwards The Confessor can be downloaded from

Thanks to the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. Photo taken Easter 2009 by John Sales

Mini-reunion for Caroline Goodguys
Caroline South's Steve Young and his wife Trish were in London recently on their first UK visit from Canada since 2002, so they took the opportunity to meet up with a few shipmates.

Above left, John Aston with Steve and Mark Sloane. Above right, Steve and Trish with Johnnie Walker.

We hope they'll be back to see us again soon.

Close of 'Pirates of the Irish Sea'
The Manx 'Pirates of the North Sea' Caroline North exhibition closed on August 23rd 2009 after a very successful extended run at the House of Manannan museum in Peel
. The Manx Radio news report on the closure is here.

Norah Barnes, who used to run Daffy Don Allan's Fan Club, attended a get-together on the island to mark the exhibition closure and has kindly shared her photo collection in a Smilebox.

For our photo report, click on the Caroline bell photo.

Happy Birthday, Duncan!
Duncan Johnson has kindly sent a photo of his recent birthday celebration. He says:

"My 71st birthday was celebrated a fortnight early with ex-Radio Invicta friends who I worked with in Canterbury in the mid-Eighties.

Rick and Joy loved Alaska
Radio England's Rick Randall has shared photos of his recent holiday. He writes:

My wife, Joy and I have just taken a trip with friends to Alaska, and have a couple of pictures for you. Top right, we are standing on the deck of our ship, a few hundred feet in front of a glacier that spills down out of the mountains and into an inlet off the Pacific, near where we docked the previous night. We saw at least a dozen of these magnificent creations on our journey.
Bottom right, there's a shot of some of the mountains south of Anchorage, where we travelled by motorhome after disembarking from the ship.

As a Florida boy, I enjoyed an eyeful of all the snow and ice all around us, and the magnificent scenery Alaska has to offer. 
I appreciated the card you sent for the 4th of July, as you have also done in the past. In fact, it is always a real treat to hear from you and to keep up with the many radio adventures that you always seem to be involved with.
Maybe we'll get a chance to see you again someday, somewhere down the road.
Rick Crandall

August 14th 2009 – We'll never forget you, Lil!
"Forty-two years and you both are still faithful. Thanks for all that you have done for Lil. Much, much more than the rest. You deserve some sort of recognition, but I guess you'll just have to accept my appreciation."
Mark Roman, 14th August 2009

A statement endorsed by all!  It’s good to hear that kind of remark from someone who was there. 
We were there too, but on dry land, listening but hardly believing. Forty-two years on, we still remember vividly. I’ll be raising my tea mug at 3pm. Alan Hardy

Absolutely. I’ll have a cup o’tea on my knee at 3 today.
Makes you wonder how different things would have been if the station had been legalised in ’67 and invited to come ashore. My guess is ‘Stewpot’ would still be there! Would Peel have left? You can imagine all kinds of scenarios. Peter Young

I'm not sure about a cup o'tea on the knee at three today but Dave and I will certainly be raising a glass to mark the kneevent. Shame there's not much happening but I suppose the 42nd anniversary is not quite the same as a 40th or 45th. At least we all know we'll be doing something 'together' at 3 pm even though it'll be individually, if that's not a bit of a contradiction in terms.
Great to hear from Mark again and I know he really does appreciate what you and Chris are doing, Mary.
So here's to Lil and to you all on this memorable day.
Pauline & Dave Miller

Right: (photo captioned by Ben Toney) Mark Roman looking over his Will, before boarding the Galaxy, 1965.

Of course, today, I'll be remembering Big L at 3 pm. So long ago, but so vivid in the memory. Francis Pullen

42 years ago today.  We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing at 3.00pm on 14th August 1967, don't we!
Unfortunately I'm not aware of anything special happening for the 42nd anniversary this year, though I expect a few presenters will manage an on-air mention for the event.
At 3.00pm today I shall also be sitting down with a nice cup of tea, thinking, remembering and wondering what might have been. John Sales

14 August 2009 - a most memorable date in all our minds. Just 42 years after the Government delivered its evil blow and made most of us walk the plank. Thanks to Mary and Chris for keeping the dream alive via their Radio London website.
'What a crazy idea - it would never work.' 'Offshore radio will be forgotten about anytime now.' 'What do you mean DJs broadcast from a ship?'  
It was a very brave decision of yours and Chris to launch a website ten years ago and my goodness what a truly magnificent  job you have made of it and pulled so many people together – presenters and their listeners. Each one of us owes you both Many Congratulations and a huge thank you." Keith Skues, 14th August 2009

On our way to care for my brother's cats we passed the corridor at the Gorechtkade in Groningen this afternoon, where still the Radio London shed is. And yes Big L was specially in my mind on this day, which still is like the Black Monday way back in 1967. Hans Knot

(written at 14.35)
Some of us are in Carnaby Street – where we were in 1967 – remembering the sad day. A glass of Champers will be raised in 25 mins. Eddie O'Konnor

(written at 14.45)
I remember this day as though it was only yesterday... and it's a Labour Goverment in as well... Colin Wilkins.

I just wanted to add my voice to the big cheer that's going up for you guys, you certainly deserve every decibel of it. I had hoped to be the first to wish you congratulations, but I've been so busy with last minute preparations for our holiday, that it kinda slipped between the cracks. Steve Young

 (written at 15.00) FAREWELL RADIO LONDON. Chris Dannatt

Does a caffè latte count? I raised a mug this afternoon and remembered the 42nd anniversary. Sadly, I haven't a clue where the intervening 42 years have gone!
Well done, Mary and Chris, for all you've done to preserve the memory and the good name of Radio London. 'Fab' Alan Field

Thanks Mary & Chris, I am with you in spirit, albeit not Jack Daniels anymore. Cheers Dave Cash, 14th August 2009

Happy Birthday, Willy!
Congratulations went winging their way to Florida, for Big L DJ WillyWalker's 70th birthday celebration on July 25th.The photo on the left was taken at Duncan Johnson's 70th birthday party in 2008. Radio London fans will already know that as well as his DJ work in the Sixties, Willy worked as a male model. Still lookin' good, Willy!

Willy enjoyed his virtual card from Radio London:
"Mary.....Thanks for the 'great' birthday card.....sorry no hammock involved or yacht crusing by, but did have a tropical setting, several cold ones and friends to help the 'milestone'. Even a few of the olde pirates remembered the occasion! And I survived! Trust all is well across the pond. Regards to all the usual suspects there... until the next gathering. Cheers, Willy."

'Children of the World' made Freemen of Douglas
On July 1st, the Isle of Man government honoured the Bees Gees' 50-year musical career by issuing a set of eight commemorative stamps and a crown coin. (see photos below) The issue of the stamps ties in with the ceremony on July 10th, when Barry and Robin Gibb, and their late brother Maurice, were made honorary freemen of their birthplace, the city of Douglas. Council leader David Christian proposed the resolution to honour the brothers in recognition of the Bee Gees' achievements in music and the pride they have shown in their place of birth. Other Freemen who attended the ceremony included 94-year-old entertainer Sir Norman Wisdom.

(left) The Mayor of Douglas Councillor Michael Gelling presents Robin and Barry Gibb with their Freemen certificate. (right) The vellum designed and created in calligraphy by Colleen Corlett

The brothers are notoriously patriotic and when Robin's twin Maurice passed away in Miami in 2003, an appeal was put out on Manx Radio (4th story down) for anyone with a relative in Florida who might have a Manx flag that could be used to drape his casket at the funeral.

In 2008, Robin accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the Bee Gees and recorded the national anthem Ellan Vannin with the island's King William’s College's children's choir, in aid of the local hospice.

The offshore stations had a good relationship with the Bee Gees' 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. Although Robin and Barry have not performed as the Bee Gees since the death of Maurice, they have considered the possibility of doing so.

Ceremony photographs © 2009 Douglas Borough Council

News continues on Page 2....

Back to 'Kneesflashes'