March 2005
(February 2005 is
here...). Archive Happenings index is here.... News starts here

We were saddened to learn of the death, on March 6th, of former Radio Caroline and London DJ, Tommy Vance.

Tommy suffered a stroke and died three days later, in hospital in Kent.

A tribute page, containing personal memories of a much-loved broadcaster, is here, with friend Jon Myer writing about the funeral, and links to tributes on other sites.

Please also see the news section below.

March 05
Walker Brothers Fairies Kathy Kirby Roy Budd
Mini Memories Page 6 (updated March 05) The Pall Mall contract for a £700 single!

Caroline Towed Away
In March 1968, Caroline's broadcasts ended abruptly when both North and South ships were unceremoniously towed to Amsterdam, where they were to remain for several years. New visitors will enjoy our feature, where Bud Ballou talks about being on a radio station that was towed away, while Martin Kayne tells how he heard what happened while on shore leave. The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has great photos of the two vessels which were taken in 1970, some of them aboard the Fredericia.

Mi Amigo Sinking (new March 05)
A newspaper report from the Evening News, March 20th, 1980.

And now, the news....

The Swinging Sixties!

Congratulations to Roger Twiggy Day, Tom Edwards and Johnnie Walker, all reaching sixty this month.

Happy birthday to three guys who definitely knew the definition of 'swinging' in the Sixties – it was something you did on a ship in the North Sea!

SRE and Hauraki
Another mega-newsletter, the second this month, has arrived from Hans Knot. In this issue, Jack Curtis writes from Australia about his fellow SRE jock, Boom Boom Brannigan, and has unearthed a rare press photo of him. There's a story of New Zealand's famous offshore station, Radio Hauraki, and more tributes to Tommy Vance.
To sign up for the free emailed International Newsletter, contact Hans at
Ace Fab 40 compiler and Supersleuth, Fab Alan Field has found an long-lost item of memorabilia from Tommy Vance's early radio career. Alan says:

It's amazing what you can find. Below is a link to a website run by a guy called Robin Mitchell. He worked at KOL from May '67. But about one-third to half-way down the page there's a "Flashback" featuring the original "Magnificent 7" DJs at KOL when it had relaunched as a Top 40 station on 31st May 1965. And in the picture, captioned, is our Tommy Vance (by that name).

There had been some question as to whether Rick West adopted the Tommy Vance name, along with the jingle, for KOL in Seattle or whether it was later in Los Angleles. This photo makes it quite clear that he became TV in Seattle. We have been in touch with Robin and will let you know if any more information about Tommy's early radio career comes to light. Robin's website is here.
More Cuddly Ken!

Chris Edwards has updated his Offshore Themes website. He says:

There are now more than 550 (558 to be exact!) theme clips on the site. There's a new title page, a few more pictures, some updates and corrections.

In the Tributes section, Tony Aldridge, drummer with the Pathfinders has been in touch with some information on their song "I love you Caroline". Under "Deejays Sing", Ed Stewart croons "I like my Toys", while Kenny Everett gets on his "Knees". Meanwhile Kees Manders (of RNI hijacking infamy) tries to grab vocal fame.

'I Like My Toys' was written by Jeff Lynne and appeared on the first Idle Race album' Birthday Party'. Stewpot was not the only Big L DJ to use the song. Kenny Everett (a huge fan of the Idle Race) adapted it for a Capital Radio jingle in the 70s.

Idle Race and Stewpot's version says: "I have a train set and a garage full of toys and a soldier with a gun..."

Kenny's says: "I have a trannie and it's permanently tuned to the station I adore..."

Abbey Road – a Shrine to Otway

Till the end of March, the public is being admitted to Abbey Road studios for the first time since 1982, as part of a festival of films featuring music recorded there, such as animated feature 'Shrek' and the Harry Potter series. The festival has special screenings of some of the 200 movies scored at the studios, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Abbey Road is, of course, known for producing groundbreaking recordings, the most famous of all being 'House of the Rising Sun', the Top Ten Hit for superstar John Otway, backed by a cast of thousands at Easter, 2002. (The full story of this monumental happening, is here.) Otway's very presence at the studios and the fact that everyone who appeared on the recording trod the zebra crossing outside and waved at the Abbey Road webcam, has given rise to St John's Wood becoming a graffiti-strewn shrine to the occasion.

Abbey Road's best-known superstar recording artists, John Otway and Richard Holgarth.

BBC report of the Film Festival here

Spamalot proves popular with critics and lovers of shrubbery
"We can almost take it for granted that people who love Python will come. So, how do you please people who don't know anything about it? And the answer is, you make a very funny singing and dancing musical. You know, funny is funny is funny. If they come and they laugh, that's what we're selling." Eric Idle, talking to Ernio Hendez in Playbill

Spamalot – Eric Idle's musical adaptation of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', has been declared a hit at its Broadway premiere, after a successful Chicago preview season. Idle collaborated with John Du Prez on music for the big-budget show, which was three years in the making. This show has seen Tim Curry, whose most famous musical comedy role is that of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, transfer from one theatrical cult to another, with his role of King Arthur.

Pythons John Cleese, Terry Giliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, were reunited for the Broadway opening and joined the cast on stage to sing the 'Life of Brian' anthem, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.

"Its aggressive comic spirit is as infectious as the Black Death" – critic Simon Houpt

"My brain hurts!" – Professor of Criticism, M.A.D. Gumby (right)

"The rabbit was framed" – Spokesbunny, Watership Down

BBC story – Spamalot website (choose your bandwidth – nudge, nudge...)

Belated Big L Birthday Celebration!

Only a few of the Radio London personnel were able to attend – five DJs, one founder and a well-known ship's steward! But a wonderful time was enjoyed by all who came!

During the reunion, Cardboard Shoes related an amazing incident. Earlier in the week, he had attended a function for high-ranking RAF officials. Keith had organised the event himself and it was attended by HM the Queen. During the very formal evening, he had encountered a familiar face. It was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who as 20-year-old Cambridge student, Prince Richard of Gloucester, had taken a trip out to Radio Caroline, accompanied by Keith and Bryan Vaughan. It transpired that the Duke had very sharp memories of the occasion, which ostensibly had been for the purpose of writing a feature for the university magazine Granta. But he admitted to Keith that the intended feature had never been completed.
You can read about that memorable tender trip, which was also taken by Gene Pitney, here.
Duncan Johnson, Norm St John, Keith Skues and Mich Philistin, the famous ship's steward who sailed with the Galaxy from Haiti and stayed aboard till Radio London closed.
Chris and Mary are delighted that Norm took the trouble to fly all the way from Brisbane, especially for the party.
Tom Danaher flew all the way from Texas for the day! Lil, the Radio London parrot, only flew from Stoke Mandeville.
Lil, well on the way to becoming a pixilated parrot!

Jonathan at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has added his own collection of great photos of the event here. Talking of which...

Yet more anniversaries are celebrated this month in the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, including the site's own 5th Birthday, on the occasion of which Radio London sends warm congratulations.

It's also the birthday of King Radio and there's a page of photos and memorabilia from the short-lived station. And approaching the twenty-fifth anniversary of Radio Caroline's Mi Amigo sinking, the Hall reprints the story as it appeared in the London Evening Standard on 20th March 1980. (We shall be adding the story later in the month, as reported by the Evening News).

Pssst! Keith tells Duncan Johnson
his news

Do you want to know a secret?
Keith Skues has now officially announced the news which he disclosed in confidence, at the Radio London 40th Anniversary reunion.

With the exception of 'Pirate Radio Skues', which will continue on Mondays, 2200 to 0100, Keith is bowing-out of his late-night show (networked from BBC Norwich) which he has presented for the past ten years. Besides the Monday evening recollections of the days of Watery Wireless, he will also host a new four-hour show on Sunday mornings, 0900 to 1300.

Keith admits that after working late nights for so long, he will be pleased to be able to put his feet (or rather his Cardboard Shoes) up more often. He wants to catch up on his writing and his social life and about ten years' worth of sleep. It's never been a case of merely turning up, doing a three-hour show and going home. The nightly shows take a great deal of preparation and more work afterwards, with paperwork to complete long after everyone else is in dreamland.

Cardboard Shoes and his amazing record collection was recently featured in a local TV programme Inside Out.

No Commercials Please – we're listeners!
In Ian MacRae's entertaining on-line newsletter The Radio Wave #36: Radio under siege * Biggest listener wish? No commercials * Swiss neutral on Michael Jackson* Internet radio on your phone * The world’s biggest French fry * Classic radio shows now downloadable.

Pirate BBC Essex returns aboard the Ross Revenge (BBC Essex press release)

Pirate BBC Essex is back this Easter for an historic broadcast aboard the Ross Revenge.

Pirate BBC Essex has been invited by Radio Caroline to broadcast on Easter Saturday afternoon from its flagship moored at Tilbury, when Steve Scruton will be presenting a four-hour special programme from a studio aboard the Ross Revenge between 2 and 6pm.

Last Easter, Pirate BBC Essex marked the 40th Anniversary of offshore radio with a week-long broadcast from the LV18, moored off Harwich. It featured the music from the glory years of the pirates, 1964 – 1967.

This year's broadcast will feature the music of Easter Week 1965. As well as the hits from the British charts of the time, there will be pirate radio plays, some of which may not have been heard for forty years.

"We're keeping the dream alive," said presenter Steve Scruton, who had the original idea to mark last year's 40th Anniversary. He added, "This year we're broadcasting from a radio ship full of pirate heritage."

Radio Caroline's Peter Moore said, "Ross Revenge is the last fully-operational ship in the world. She is equipped with all the typical broadcast hardware of the sixties, but has also been adapted to handle the digital age. We are very pleased to be sharing the ship with BBC Essex, the first such co-operation that has ever taken place.

Peter added, "We challenge Tim, Steve and Ian and any listeners who may step aboard, not to be gripped by the memories and nostalgia of what was a significant and exciting era of UK radio."

As well as Steve Scruton, Pirate BBC Essex presenters Ian Wyatt and Tim Gillett will be aboard the Ross Revenge contributing to the show.

"We're very privileged to have been invited by the Radio Caroline organisation aboard their special vessel," said BBC Essex Programmes Editor Tim Gillett. "The Ross Revenge is regarded by offshore radio fans as a very important part of the pirate radio era."

Pirate BBC Essex, Easter Saturday 26th March 2005 2 – 6 pm can be heard on 95.3 and 103.5 FM, on 765, 729 and 1530 MW and on the worldwide web at

For more information about Radio Caroline and the Ross Revenge look at

For more details about the week-long Pirate BBC Essex 2004 broadcast from aboard the LV18, read our report and visit the station's own website.

Pirate Scruton

Pirate Gillett

Phil's Progress

In a previous Hans Knot's International Newsletter, Colin Lamb reported that former Caroline and Voice of Peace DJ, Phil Mitchell, had suffered a stroke and was now recovering in the stroke unit of Colchester Hospital. Phil participated in some of the Big L and RNI RSLs and had recently been providing programmes for Radio Seagull and Offshore Music Radio. Colin now sends a progress report:

I visited Phil this week and he has increased his vocabulary slightly. He can now say "Hello" "Ta-ta" and other simple words and can count up to six (in order). He can say 7, 8, 9 and 10, but not in order yet! However, the very good news is that they are hoping to discharge Phil on or about March 14th.

It is very encouraging to know that Phil continues to progress well and we are sure he has been longing to return home to his family. If anyone wishes to send any messages to Phil, they can send them via Colin and he will gladly pass them on.

City Scrapbook
Bob le Roi's recent site update includes the final part of the Radio City Paul Elvey 'Scrapbook' feature, with more rare pictures and audio from the early days on Shivering Sands.

RNI and Luxembourg
In Hans Knot's International Newsletter, there's news about John Denny of RNI and photos of the MEBO II in Rotterdam in 1977. Hans tells the full story of how he went to Luxembourg to make a history of 208 documentary, for Dutch Radio 1. Fifty photos from the trip can be found on Martin van der Ven's site. Click button marked 'Hans Knot'.

Hans has also compiled a complete list of Radio London advertisers and asks if readers can suggest any additions. To sign up for the free emailed newsletter, contact him at

All For Peace
Mike Brand of All For Peace Radio writes:

After a year of bureaucratic hold ups, the joint Israeli / Palestinian All For Peace radio station has started broadcasting in English, Hebrew and Arabic on 107.2 megahertz on the FM band. The transmitter is placed in Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority, but the studios are in Jerusalem, enabling both Israeli and Palestinian staff access to the station. The broadcasts are 100% legal.

The station put out test transmissions of non-stop music in English and Arabic in January and February on both 98.4 and 107.2 FM, with the 107.2 frequency being the far superior. Reception reports have been received so far from Haifa in the North, to Gaza in the South, and from Cyprus!! The signal is particularly strong in the Tel-Aviv area. If you live in the broadcast area, please try and e-mail me to tell me how you are receiving the station.
Sutch RSL Update
Paul Billingham writes:

Many thanks to everyone who has offered help and support with the forthcoming Radio Sutch RSL The project still very much needs your support to be able to function for a month, especially given the remoteness of the forts.

Access to the forts and some health and safety measures, are really all that stand in the project's way. Robin Adcroft at Project Redsands has told me that he expects access to the forts to be installed in May. Given the real risks to personal safety that may exist from the autumn storms, it may very well be necessary to undertake the RSL in the spring of 2006 to avoid people being stranded on the forts, or injured getting on or off.

The RSL now has a website.

Have A Ball In Montreal!

Our friend Marc 'Mais Oui' Denis has made many recent updates to his CKGM Super 70s Tribute Page and has drawn our attention to several of them which will be of interest to Radio London site visitors.

Remember the song, 'Montreal, My Hometown' by 'The CKGM Singers' (in reality the PAMS production team), previously mentioned in Happenings, April 04? Unlike Big L's 'London, My Hometown', (which was both a PAMS promotional song and the B-side of a Chantelles single) the Montreal version of the song had a follow-up, called 'Have A Ball In Montreal'! Both songs are on Marc's History Page (go to 1962). (What would they have come up with as a follow-up for London? 'You'll have great fun, Don, in Lon-don'?)

Numerous jingle enthusiasts will be able to enjoy CKGM jingles of the 60s and 70s, including, "The bilingual English-to-French CKGM jingle, circa 1974, which I used a lot on-air back then, found mid-way down in the left-hand column of the Alumni Page". Here, you can enjoy the sound of Marc in full flow!

Then there are the personalised jingles made around 1970 for the first deejays of the CKGM Seventies, at the top of the Memorabilia Page (click on individual names).

Marc tells us he is enjoying listening to the Oldies Project. He says, "What a wonderful radio presence while doing work in my office or studio. I can just imagine the amount of work and dedication by many enthusiasts that went into this project in order to make it all work. Felicitations to all!"

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