Two pages for
Oct/Nov/Dec 2009

Two pages for
July/Aug/Sept are here
The archived Happenings index is here...

Email Mary with your news and views:

Site Updates

(12/11) In Minimemories Page Nine, Derek Paice visited Chuck Blair's flat in Harpenden.

And now, the news...

Greetings from Big L Founder
Tom Danaher writes:

Dear Mary & Chris
So good to hear from you, with such a beautiful Christmas Greeting!
I truly missed being at your party on the Thames to greet you on your Birthday, Mary, which I can imagine was a very happy and memorable one. Folks don't get that kind of party very often. You most certainly deserve every nice recognition that comes your way! To me, you and Radio London are one and the same. So, many thanks to you, Mary!
Ben Toney said the party was great and that he had a Wonderful time. He's going to to send me some photos.
I hope you and Chris enjoy a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Best regards, Tom

Christmas wishes from a Superstar!
A personal greeting from Cousin Moosie, Superstar:

A very cool Yule to all my friends. Thank you for the deluge of fan mail and for your lovely Christmas greetings. I hope that in 2010, many more of you will be able to come and see my stage show, 'The Sound of the Nation - Live' and I look forward to meeting you all.

I hope you like the photo of me and my new friend Patella the polar bear.

With love, Cousin Moosie xx

Fab Four Greeting
Although by no means as famous as Cousin Moosie, the Beatles have their own Christmas greeting – taken from their Fan Club Christmas Flexidisc, 'Pantomime'.

Tennant's Top Twenty?
David Tennant, who guested on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sunday 27th December admitted that as a boy, he kept a notebook of the current chart listings. We know someone else who did that! Does this mean that Fab Alan Field ought to be the next Dr Who? (That Tardis would come in very handy for checking details of missing climbers.)

The Marshall thinks we're 'pretty old'!
In a recent interview with The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times, Marshall Mike Lennox said, "I don't often mention my involvement with (offshore radio) but if I'm talking to English people I'll say 'I lived in England for a period of time' and sometimes say I used to work on Radio London' and they'll say, 'Oh, yeah, I used to listen to it!' Although they'd have to be pretty old now to have listened to it as a young person."

Pretty old? (Cue TW) How DARE he!

(Mike's misremembered the date he started on Radio London. It was 1965, not 64.)

Beatles top US end-of-decade chart
Laura Brooks, writing in 'Music Week', reveals that the Fab Four are Top of the Pops in the Nielsen Soundscan Albums of the Decade chart. No other British band made the top 50, based on US sales between January 2000 and Nov 29 2009. The Beatles' Greatest Hits compilation released by EMI in the first year of the decade, sold 11,515,000.
(Thanks to Alan Hardy

Belated obituary
Rather belatedly, the Independent has published an obituary for Mike Ahern.
(Thanks to Jon Myer)

Tony O'Neil from the Pharos Trust has already received an encouraging response to his appeals for help. Initially, he thought that protests had to be in within seven days, but this has now been extended. Tony writes:


Dear Supporter

You will be aware that the Pharos Trust, owners of LV18, and our volunteers, have been striving for 10 years to achieve a permanent berth on Harwich Quay for the LV18.

Much hard work has enabled us to restore this classic vessel and to have staged several events like Pirate BBC Essex, which have brought thousands of visitors to Harwich and given great pleasure to many people.

We have come to a point where it might be possible to achieve our dream. However there are a few who do not want to see this dream become a reality. Please read this article in the local press and this one Come to your own conclusions and add comments as appropriate!

Please can you help us by responding positively to the planners at Tendring District Council.

You have only seven days in which to do so in one of three ways:

1) Directly online via this link

2) Via letters to Tendring District Council, Planning Department, Council Offices, Thorpe Road, Weeley, Essex CO16 9AJ. We feel personal letters will be the most effective response. You can use this pro forma letter as a guide and personalise it as you feel appropriate.

3) If you are short of time, simply print out and sign your own copy of the pro-forma letter and return it to the address above.

Many thanks - your support WILL bring about change. Power to the people!

Best regards, Tony, LV18, Harwich


by buying: The Boat That Docked – 'Pirates Ahoy' - Pirate BBC Essex Easter 2009.

Movie footage shot by several cameramen over the Easter weekend in Harwich during the Pirate BBC Essex broadcast, has now been edited into a 106-minute DVD.

It is available by post only price, £15.00 incl p & p, cheques payable to 'NVWTM', from: The Boat That Docked DVD, The High Lighthouse, Harwich, Essex CO12 3HH.

A truly WONDERFUL 60th birthday!
Chris decided that Mary's Bus Pass Birthday simply had to be marked with a surprise party and set about organising the most incredible celebration ever, attended by 47 guests who had travelled from all over the UK and from abroad! Not only was there the healthy contingent from the UK offshore radio family, of Ian Damon, Guy Hamilton, George Hare, Duncan Johnson, Michel Philistin and Penny Wolf, but Ben Toney came from Texas, Bud Ballou travelled from California (just for the weekend!) and Ron Buninga came from Holland. Ben and Mich had not met for forty years!

Hans and Jana Knot and Rob Olthof also journeyed from Holland and Martin and Ulrike van der Ven, from Germany to join a wonderful contingent of lovely friends and relatives who made this a truly memorable celebration.

Knees Club Official 381, Pauline Miller, had written a special tribute to Mary which she delivered on behalf of patellae everywhere.

Right: "Chris, you're the BEST husband ever!"

Those unable to attend – Tom Danaher, Dave Cash, Mark Roman, Keith Skues, Peter Young and Steve Young all recorded lovely greetings, as did Tanya Baugus, on behalf of the USS Density WWII shipmates.

Just when she thought Chris must have run out of surprises, the band Caroline 199, who Radio London has been working with to produce 'The Sound of the Nation - Live', arrived having driven all the way from Liverpool, to treat the birthday guests to a scaled-down version of the show.

It was a magical and memorable day.

Ian 'Wombat' Damon, Ben Toney, Michel Philistin,
Mary, Jenny Royal

Duncan Johnson chats to Ron Buninga
Chris introduces Bud Ballou and Wombat
Mary struts her stuff with the band (Photo: George Hare)

A healthy collection of Knees Club Officials – two of whom were kneemarkably kneeluctant to display their patellae... Mary with (in pale pink) recentknee-appointed Official Pauline Miller and 1966 Official, Jenny Royal

Many thanks to Martin and Ulrike van der Ven, for sending a fine collection of lovely photos, five of which are in this feature and one on the Home Page.

Friars Definitely Fab at Forty!
Friars Aylesbury 40th Anniversary Christmas party, starring China Crisis and Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Above, right: A great set from Liverpool's China Crisis

Friday, November 27th was the third and final gig marking the 40th anniversary celebrations for the internationally-renowned Friars Aylesbury music club. Aylesbury Civic Centre is due to close in June 2010, (it is being replaced by a massive new theatre) so this was the last-ever Friars Christmas Party (the one before this was 1984, with local stars Marillion). It certainly proved a massive send-off to the anniversary year. Top-class entertainment with a wonderful party atmosphere barely begins to describe it.

Below, right: Kid Creole invited ladies from the audience to become 'honorary Coconuts' and join the party on stage

As hard-working Friars webmaster Mike says:

It's difficult to put this one into words as there probably aren't words yet in the dictionary to describe what we witnessed last Friday night. Simply astonishing. This is being talked about amongst the greatest Friars gigs ever and every bit as amazing as the original 1982 Kid Creole Friars gigs.

Friars promise to stage another gig in 2010 before the Civic shuts.

Full reviews and more photos on the Official Friars Aylesbury Website.

The Ship That Rocked the World
The revised, hardback edition of Tom Lodge's book 'The Ship That Rocked The World' is published this month. Tom says: "This edition is double the size of the original one and contains a lot more about my personal times spent with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, Herman's Hermits, and also my time aboard the two Caroline ships."

The book is expected to be available from Amazon.


North American Premiere
Focus Features, Universal's US specialty film distributor, has renamed 'The Boat That Rocked', 'Pirate Radio' for North American release, paring its running time by approximately 20 minutes. Seen as a European Box Office failure – it took only $25m, half of what it cost to make – much of the criticism aimed at the comedy had focused on its 129-minute running time. Whether releasing it on Friday 13th is a good omen, remains to be seen.

The Focus website has features about the making of the film and new trailers . Unfortunately, Simon Frith in his feature concerning the 'real story' of the pirates repeats the myth that the stations were illegal. He also claims that most were US funded. (270, 242 – US funded?) "In retrospect," says Frith, "The pirates had little impact on the mid-60s emergence of British rock." Oh really? Who brought us the Who, the Small Faces, Spencer Davis Group, Traffic... To quote Tony Hancock, "What a load of rubbish!".

We lodged our protest concerning the inaccuracy of the feature with the Focus editor, Peter Bowen, who kindly published Mary's comments. He has also received reprimands regarding the feature's innaccuracy from ex-pirates Ian MacRae and Colin Nichol.

Below are links to some of the US and Canadian reviews and features.

(05/12) The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has compiled a comprehensive list of former pirates who have been interviewed about the real story of offshore radio.

Release weekend Box Office figures NPR Feature, with assistance from the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame Well said, the LA Times
Worthwhile review from Mitchell Shannon (he likes our site too!) Will Pirates Sink the Pirate Boat That Rocked? - has everyone already seen it on DVD?
When the pirates took over radio – CNN Just A Minute With: Director and writer Richard Curtis – Euronews Eye Weekly (Toronto)
Pirate Radio Gets a Tame U.S. Release, but We Still Love Rock 'n' Roll – New Times, Florida 'Pirate Radio' swings to fun, predictable beat – Movie City News (Wilmington)
Between Rock and a Hard Place – Washington Post A Joyous Li'l Flick About Old Dudes Saving Rock 'n' Roll – Eonline San Francisco Examiner
Nick Frost on Pirate Radio – Can Mag REEL 2 REAL: Scattered radio pirates should have jumped ship – Daily Aztec (San Diego) Review St Louis
Time Out, New York "It really bore no resemblance to what we went through," Keith Hampshire interview– Edmonton Sun (Vancouver)

The UK DVD of the Boat That Rocked is already available. Seeing as Radio London had been asked so many questions by a documentary researcher connected to Universal Pictures, we were anticipating some sort of feature about the genuine pirates to appear on the DVD, but sadly not. However, a review on reveals that deleted LV18 'Radio Sunshine' scenes that we had all been waiting to see, are indeed included as extras. However, she still appears only briefly.

Tony O'Neil of the Pharos Trust, which owns and restores LV18, tells us she is now a cover star for the magazine 'Maritime Heritage East', as well as a film star. Tony has sent the magazine cover to share with our viewers.

The Boat That Docked – the DVD featuring Pirate BBC Essex aboard the LV18 at Easter, is now available. See next story.


Motown Stars come to Town
Fans of the Detroit Sound were in for a huge treat when Mean Fiddler in association with Legends Touring International presented Divas of Motown at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo, 13 Nov. After a superb concert, Radio London was privileged to be able to meet the legendary stars, courtesy of Chris Pleydell, the show's Executive Producer.

Thelma Houston (in turquoise) with former Supremes Scherrie Payne (in purple), Lynda Laurence (blonde hair) and Joyce Vincent Wilson
'The Fabulous Tambourine Man', Jack Ashton with Chris Pleydell, Executive Producer

About the artists

Thelma Houston
One of the greatest female R&B singers of all time, Thelma Houston will give an intimate solo performance at the Jazz Cafe. The first Motown artist to win a Grammy, Houston received the award for best R&B performance by a female artist. On the eve of the release of a remix of her number 1 hit club anthem ‘Don't Leave Me This Way’, Houston is not only a true Motown legend but also an icon to the gay community as a disco diva. She recently headlined at Gay Pride New York and is a firm favourite on the club circuit as well as with connoisseurs of Motown’s and R&B Rosta.

Mable John
Motown’s first recorded female artist Mable John is one of gospel music’s luminaries. Discovered and groomed for stardom by Berry himself, she sang alongside Billie Holiday before eventually moving to Stax where her soul singer status was solidified by a career with the Raelettes – Ray Charles’s backing singers. A fascinating character, Mable became Dr. Mable John when she earned her Ph.D in counselling.

Chris Clark
At first glance, young 17-year-old Chris Clark - a tall blue-eyed California import - seemed an unlikely candidate for membership in Detroit’s closely-knit Motown family. Thanks to Gordy’s renowned genius at spotting and developing raw talent, she went on to become not only the first white album artist on the label, but also an integral part of his creative team.

Brenda Holloway
Multi-award-winning R&B pioneer Brenda Holloway was one of few Motown artists to write her own songs which were tailored to her inimitable voice – gritty, powerful and sassy. Holloway toured the US with the Beatles in their heyday and has become one of the labels most distinguished female artists.

Jack Ashford's Funk Brothers
Jack Ashford’s legendary performances on the tambourine and vibes enhanced the majority of the Classic Motown hits from the 1960's through the early 1970's. As a member of the Funk Brothers Band, he played on more number one hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and the Beatles combined. Also known as "The Fabulous Tambourine Man" he is the remaining original member of the Funk Brothers' Band.

Scherrie Payne & Lynda Laurence of the Supremes
The Supremes are Motown’s most successful female group. Their reign over the music charts was predominant throughout the 60's and 70's and earned them global accolades.  The Supremes had eight individual members during this time and each of the eight ladies contributed to the group's recording and performing success.  Scherrie Payne & Lynda Laurence are two former members of the Motown signed and recorded Supremes. Joyce Vincent Wilson, who completes the trio, was formerly with Tony Orlando and Dawn. 

Two Chrises. Chris Pleydell and Chris Clark

Chris with his mum (in pink),
his sister (far right) and Brenda Holloway

Two Paynes, Scherrie and Chris, with Joyce

Tom Merriman
11th November 2009

Tom Merriman, the founder of TM Studios who wrote and recorded the first radio jingle ever recorded in Dallas (for KLIF, the station that inspired Big L) has died in that city aged 85. He had been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame just one week earlier. The tribute website says:

"'He writes musical arrangements like Lincoln did the Gettysburg Address…on the back of an envelope…and they are equally historic.'  These words are attributed to Ron Chapman, but they reflect a universal feeling shared by the many that knew, worked with and loved Tom Merriman."

(Thanks to Howie Castle)

Webmaster's note re Ron Chapman: KLIF in Dallas had a show called 'Charlie and Harrigan', hosted by Dan McCurdy, as Charlie Brown and Ron Chapman, as Irving Harrington. Ben Toney brought a tape of that show over to England to give the new Radio London DJs an idea of the sort of radio that the Texan backers were hoping to emulate. It inspired Dave Cash and Kenny Everett to emulate them and launch the Kenny and Cash Show.

Two News items from Fab Forty Artists

New albums from Rustic Rod

'Rustic' Rod Goodway of The Pack
has news of his latest musical venture:

CONGRATULATIONS to you and Chris on ten years of fabulous Radio London on the Web. Your site is still linked to my own Aching Cellar site (of course) under the heading: 'Join THE PACK here'.

Sorry I have been out of touch for so long, but over the past couple of years I have been recording NEW music, with an album (LP and CD) just released on the September Gurls label. My association with my current musical partner Adrian Shaw goes back to the 1960s and you can hear three songs from the album for free at our joint MySpace site.

We remain fans of your site. An INSPIRATION!! Keep up the great work.
Love & Light, 'Rustic' Rod (Goodway) (nee THE PACK)

Superknees Sorrows

Ex-Sorrows and early Knees Club recruits Don Maughn (Member #9) and Phil Packham (#8) have got together to form 'Coventry's First Supergroup'.

Launch of Hermitage FM
Jon and Jan Sketchley have put a huge amount of work into 99.2 Hermitage FM, the new community station for North West Leicestershire, which officially launched on Saturday 14th November. Congratulations and the best of luck to all concerned. (Thanks to John Sales)

'Your Backstage Pass to Music History'
The Rokpool website brings you "Extraordinary videos, rare photos, recordings and memorabilia, all in one place – your backstage pass to music history."

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