The Early Radio London Fab Forties – 1965
Personal accounts from Gert van der Winden and Machteld Meijer of how they became Fab Forty Fanatics
Gert van der Winden
Machteld Meijer in 1966...
...and today
"Then, in December 1964, there was Radio London...."
My Story of listening to The British Offshore Stations in the Sixties by the late Gert van der Winden

I started listening to 'Pirate' Radio, as they called it here in Holland, in 1960 when I was about 9 years old. My father involved me in 'the thing' when he listened to our own Dutch radio station Radio Veronica on Saturdays and Sundays. The programming was of the kind they called Easy Listening.

The record I remember best from this time is 'What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For' by Emile Ford and The Checkmates. I still have this 45 in my collection, but I was not able to buy this until 1965 in a stock sale.

My parents had a big wireless receiver which I own and cherish nowadays. It is still working but not in use by me at the moment and tuned on the dial to.... of course.... 266.

I became 'aware' of listening a couple of years later in the summer of 1964 when I listened a lot to Radio Caroline, Britain's first commercial radio station. My dad didn't like the kind of 'rough' music he heard, meaning singles like 'Rosalyn', The Pretty Things and 'It's All Over Now', The Rolling Stones. But I liked it!

Left – unpopular with Gert's dad, The Pretty Things

A headliner in this time was 'The House of the Rising Sun' by the Animals, which still gives me chilly fever hearing it. I remember there was a short version (American edition, a deejay copy) in which they edited the instrumental part and one couplet as they thought the playing time of the record was too long. I've not been able to find this particular track till 2002, but a friend of mine has the 45 in his collection, so here ends my search.

During this time, I started making and writing down my own charts, although the notes of these have unfortunately been lost. In the evening I mostly tuned in to Radio Luxembourg as Radio Caroline or Radio City were not too good reception. Here you also heard the splendid records you heard during the day but also a great collection of new American recordings.

In September 1964 I got my first very own transistor radio (A Toshiba 8 Transistor) on which I could get the British Offshore stations loud and clear.

Then, in December 1964, there was Radio London.

From this time on, it became my favourite station. I well remember the start of test transmissions which was on December 13 or December 14, only for a couple of hours. Not knowing this would become Big L (as records were being played non-stop), the choice of music already captured me! The very first songs being played then were 'I Feel Fine', 'Paper Tiger', 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind' and 'It Sounds Good to Me'. (I did not know this was the B side of 'Message to Martha', I thought this was the new record by Adam Faith - kind of like 'The First Time' and 'We Are In Love'.)

On December 23 1964 there was Big L, starting with Pete Brady. (Only recently I heard back 40 minutes of this very first broadcast.) I also became a regular listener of the Radio London Fab Forty (Or the 'sing-along survey' as Dave Cash mentioned it later). However, I never started keeping notes of the Fab 40, simply not knowing the importance this would have later.

Then I heard again a well-known voice, the one of Tee Double-U (Tony Windsor) which I knew already from former station Radio Atlanta, when he did his thing and played his signature tune 'Rinky Dink' by Johnny Howard. On Radio London, he used 'Revenge' by Ray McVay.

The summer of 1965 became 'my year'. I liked almost 99% of the records being played on Big L and in the 'summer sales' I started buying my first 45's although it was almost a year later when I got my first pick up. By then, I already had a collection of around about sixty 45's which I played at a friend's pick up, sometimes borrowing it. One of the first records I bought was 'Eve of Destruction' by Barry McGuire.

In July 1965, I went on holiday and took my transistor radio with me, but damn! No sign of Big L in this part of the country till the evening when a very small and far away Big L was there. But still good music on the radio, as there were 'Long Live Love', 'Woolly Bully', 'I'm Alive', 'A Walk in the Black Forest' and 'Tossing and Turning', which I picked up from German stations or 'Lucky' Luxembourg.

I listened to Big L till August 1967. As I was on a holiday during the final day, I didn't hear the close down 'live', but a friend of mine made a tape recording of it. Nowadays it seems very much has been taped during these days in 1967, but from 1965 and 1966, complete or partial shows are hard to find.

By the seventies I longed for the good old days and began tracking down facts and recordings of Big L and also started to lay hands on records which had charted in the Fab 40. This brought me in touch with Bert Bossink who was a big Radio London collector. He supplied me his notes and taped me some very hard to find (at that moment!) records. He brought me in touch with other Radio London collectors here in Holland such as Frank van Heerde and Dirk van Dijk.

Fortunately, many things can be found on CD nowadays and also the 'Web' supplied me many obscurities (such as 'Sweet Love' by The Sons of Fred and 'Whatever Happened to the Seven-day Week?' by Bella and Me). However, I'm still missing about 20 records from the entries in the Fab Forty from December 1964 till August 1967.

In the nineties, I bought the manuscript of Brian Long, containing the Fabs from April 4, 1965 to the end of Big L. I started tracking down charts (or parts of) before April 4 but, year after year, was unsuccessful until December 2001 when I met a lady called Machteld Meijer during a radio broadcast. She told me she had kept record of the Fab Forty from the beginning, when she was a teenage girl and that she still had the notes! Machteld was kind enough to supply them to me.

It was amazing! The first chart Machteld wrote down was 24 January 1965! However she had been only writing down the song titles, so I made myself a job in doing the research, as I have many of the 45's myself and others on CD.

So I compiled the 'Early' Fab Forties as we call them nowadays and added artist's names, label numbers, peak position in the chart and the number of weeks being in the chart. This was really a gas to do as it took me back to the good old days...... Now here are the final (First) charts!

Radio London, still wonderful after all those years..........!


Webmaster's note: very sadly Gert died in November 2013 at the age of 62.

"It must have been in January 1965 that I found out Radio London broadcast its hit parade on Sunday afternoons...."
The story behind my Radio London Hit Parade Notes by Machteld Meijer

The contributions I have made to the Radio London hit parade collection are the charts of the months February till June 1965. But let me tell you first how it started.

I was interested in popular music from an early age. I remember popular songs from the time when I was about 4 or 5 years old; my father used to listen a lot to the (mostly German) radio, in the living room, in the garage, in the bedroom. When I was about 10 years old I listened to the few programmes with popular teenage music on the Dutch radio, and to Radio Luxembourg on my own radio in my bedroom. I also started buying the Dutch music magazine 'Tuney Tunes'. That was in 1962. I was especially interested in the song lyrics, I dreamed of becoming a pop singer and I knew many, many songs by heart. But I studied chemistry instead! I currently work as a senior consultant in the ICT-branch.

Click on Machteld's notes to view a larger version

I remember that I always tried to find the stations with popular music on my radio since then. I lived in a part of the Netherlands where Veronica (our own Dutch pirate station) was difficult to receive. So I stuck to Radio Luxembourg most of the time. Somewhere in the early sixties (I think 1963 or 1964) I started to write down the first hit parades of Radio Luxembourg and the Dutch state radio.

Unfortunately I don't know where I left these notes. In 1964 my brother and I started to listen to the English pirate stations. My brother used to listen to Radio Caroline, I preferred Radio London. It must have been in January 1965 (I was just 13 years old then, third grade, secondary school) that I found out that Radio London broadcast its hit parade on Sunday afternoons. I remember very well the first time that I was totally ready for listening; it was on January 24, 1965, the day Sir Winston Churchill died, therefore there was no hit parade. But I managed to find out almost all the numbers during the week that followed.

During the following months I always wrote down the hit parades on Sunday afternoon. Then during the week, while doing my homework, I wrote down how often I heard the songs. For every day I used a different colour. I have scanned the hit parade of February 7, 1965. Unfortunately my scanner is not able to show it in full colour, but parts of the page are in colour, so you can get an impression from that. For instance, I heard the number 4 song ('Keep Searching') twice on Sunday, once on Monday, three times on Tuesday, twice on Wednesday and Thursday and once on Friday and Saturday. I only wrote down the titles of the songs because I knew the artists by heart. Only when the artist was not very well known or when I did not know the name of the song, I added the initials. For instance G.P. for Gene Pitney, with 'I Must be Seeing Things', because I couldn't understand the title right away.

I don't recall whether it was then, but if not, it was only a few years later, that I could tell by heart the position of all the big hits in the British hit parade, in the Billboard Hot 100, in The Netherlands and in Germany and what their position was in the foregoing weeks. I never wrote it down, and unfortunately nowadays I don't even remember the exact years when the songs were in the hit parade. Therefore, I have bought a couple of books with The British Hit Singles, The Billboard Top 40 hits and the Dutch Hit Dossier (my external memory).

I thought I still had a number of recordings of Radio London on tape, but I have not found them since the last removal of my parents; I'm still searching. The deejays I remember best are Dave Cash and Kenny Everett ('Nut Rocker' – The Nutcracker Suite tune) and TW (Tony Windsor) with his deep voice. And of course Tony Blackburn, who has worked for Big L as well, although I associate him more with Radio Caroline (where he started) and with the BBC than with Radio London.

Well, this concludes my memories of the Radio London hit parades!

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