The Early Radio London Fab Forties

Sunday Supplement – 23rd May 1965
Peter and Gordon visit to the
Galaxy where Dave Dennis "twiddles knobs with a smile on his face"

With the imminent release of their new single To Know You is to Love You, internationally-successful duo Peter (Asher) and Gordon (Waller) were on the promotion trail. Hot-foot from a personal appearance at the Marquee's Radio London Club Afternoon on Saturday May 22nd, they had recorded a session for 'the opposition' – the BBC Light Programme's Saturday Club – on Monday 24th, to be transmitted the following Saturday. Then on Tuesday 25th, the duo caught the Big L tender Offshore 1 for the long trip out to the Galaxy, accompanied by Duncan Johnson and a journalist identified only as Moira, who worked for the weekly comic for girls, 'June & Schoolfriend'. It's unclear if Moira took the photos for the magazine feature herself, or whether an unnamed photographer was in tow.

Radio London had been on the air for only five months, but spending a day on the ship and being the subject of a live interview was already perceived as an excellent publicity stunt by the more astute managers and record companies.

Moira reports that Paul Kaye interviewed the boys at around 13.45 during the 'Double D from Twelve to Three' show. Moira's description of Dave Dennis's self-op techniques for young teen readers, are quite amusing. When they entered the studio, Dave was "talking into a microphone, putting a record on to one of the many turntables, slotting an advertising tape into a panel, tuning himself in by the knobs in front of him and listening to the result through earphones, all at the same time – and he had a smile on his face!"

Peter and Gordon did confess elsewhere to having suffered from seasickness*, although this information is tactfully omitted from Moira's idyllic description, where the visitors were served a delicious lunch, with an apparently-noteworthy dessert of raspberry blancmange. The sea was blue and sparkling and life on a floating radio ship couldn't have been better. (Had my friends and I read the feature at the time, it would have confirmed our own fantasy vision of life aboard the good ship Galaxy. Possibly the seasickness might have been linked to the raspberry blancmange – Mary.)

To Know You is to Love You was written by Phil Spector, and had first been an international hit for his trio the Teddy Bears, in 1958. Peter and Gordon's new version was listed as a Radio London climber on June 6th, although it must surely have aired before that, as it would have been a serious omission if a promo copy had not accompanied the boys to the Galaxy.

The record entered the Big L Fab Forty at #22 on June 13th. Busy Peter and Gordon made TV appearances on Ready, Steady Go! on Friday June 18th and the following day on Thank Your Lucky Stars. The single hit #1 in the Big L Fab Forty on July 4th, became a top ten hit (#5) in the UK Nationals and reached a respectable #24 in the US Hot Hundred.

Sadly, Gordon Waller died in July 2009.

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has photos of the visit, from the personal collections of both from Duncan Johnson and electrician John Lait which includes some shots of Moira, who is not shown in any of the pictures in the magazine feature. The PRHoF also discovered that the Dynamic Duo visited the Radio Scotland ship Comet a year later, in May 1966, with Gordon dressed in full diving gear!

Offical Peter and Gordon Website

The feature about Peter and Gordon's trip to the Galaxy is reproduced in a book called The Best of June & Schoolfriend.

* This was also the case with Gene Pitney, who visited the ship a fortnight later on June 8th.

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