These pages are devoted to special memories of Big L in the Sixties.
If you have a particular memory of something that happened while listening to Radio London, won a station competition, or have unearthed some rare memorabilia, please click on the mail button to the right and let us know!
Gordon Sheppard's Big L Promotions at Olympia, 1967
Gordon Sheppard kept the Big L jocks busy with onshore personal appearances in January and February 1967. Aside from clubs and dances, these included several promotions at various exhibitions staged at London's Olympia.
The Schoolboys' and Schoolgirls' Exhibition which ran during the Christmas holidays between December '66 and January '67, was always a popular post-Christmas treat. In conjunction with the sponsored programme 'It's a Dog's Life', Norm St John, Stewpot and Tony Blackburn were on hand to present medals to dog owners at the National Canine Defence League stand. (There's no information as to whether or not Arnold was a contender.)
At the next exhibition, the Racing Car Show, which ran between January 4th and 14th January, Gordon Sheppard organised a 'Big L Theatre'. On January 12th, Keith Skues and Tony Blackburn co-hosted a 45-minute show, where guests artists mimed to their current records, spun by Gordon Sheppard's assistant Brenda Cogdell. The stars included Nancy Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Gordon recalled, "As Promotions Manager for Big L, I provided a Radio London exhibition stand at the Racing Car Show. I invited famous music personalities to attend to entertain the public, miming to their records and signing autographs. Engelbert Humperdinck, who was always one of the most favoured of all the personalities who attended my promotional events, had yet to have a big hit. Engelbert appeared willingly at the Radio London Club Saturday afternoon gigs at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street, and at Big L Wimbledon Palais dances. On our stand at Olympia, he mimed to his latest disc 'Release Me'. This was so appreciated by all the people present that their eyes lit up and big smiles appeared on their faces. I knew instantly that this record was to be a Number One Hit. Engelbert delighted the crowd by miming to it no less than three times. WOW, what a wonderful afternoon!
Subsequently, I phoned Radlon and explained to Alan Keen what had happened and about the public's incredible response to 'Release Me'. I told him that without a shadow of doubt, that single would be a massive hit and I urged him to give the record maximum exposure. It was duly rushed out to the Galaxy and Big L played it repeatedly. By the end of that week Englebert's manager phoned to thank me for giving him such valuable support. Then he told me the wonderful news that Engelbert had just been offered a show at the London Palladium. Oh yes, the Racing Car Show will always be for me, one of the best promotions I ever set up, during all the time I was with Radio London."
The official release date of Release Me (pun intended) was January 13th 1967. Alan Keen added it to the climber list for Jan 8th and it entered the FF the following week at #38. By the time Gordon's next Big L promotion was happening at Olympia, Release Me was up to #5 and the following week, 19th February, it was #2.
COLEX '67 – the Camping and Outdoor Life Exhibition
The most memorable thing about COLEX '67 appears to be that this major Big L promotion got off to a very bad start. On February, 6th Brenda Cogdell had arrived to discover that all the DJ equipment and records intended to be used by Radio London, had been stolen. How this massive headache was overcome, is not reported.
We have been unable to ascertain how many Radio London personnel participated in COLEX, but the London Weekly Advertiser claims that full coverage was being given to the event on Big L. Photos of TW (who left the station that week on 7th February) Kenny Everett, Chuck Blair, Mike Lennox (who had left Big L on January 31st) and Norm St John (who left on February 27th) are displayed behind the exhibition stand. 'COLEX '67' in the top, lefthand corner of the picture looks more like something that's been handwritten, than official signage.
Hans Knot kindly sent the London Weekly Advertiser clipping on the left, from the Luuk Meuwese collection, . The photo depicts Keith Skues and Paul Kaye at COLEX '67 – the Camping and Outdoor Life Exhibition, where the station exhibited its current sales promotion, the Big L Catamaran. (Something of a step up from Radio London eyelashes.)
The item refers to 'live programmes', but as we know, any 'shows' at the exhibition would not have involved an outside broadcast, which would not have been possible for Radio London at the time. Whether anything from the event was recorded for later transmission, is unknown.
I asked Keith Skues (whose picture is not visible in the collection shown in the photo of the exhibition stand) what he remembered about COLEX '67. Although Keith had strong memories of the previous Big L Olympia event, the Racing Car Show, he had only vague recollections of being at COLEX, although he is reported to have introduced an appearance by Episode Six on February 10th.
Recently returned from a 2-month working trip to Beirut, Episode Six had brought gifts back for all the Big L staff. Keith became the proud owner of a 'camel scarer', which made a sound like a a vintage car horn. He had started to honk the camel scarer during his shows from the ship, so his COLEX '67 appearance prompted members of the exhibition audience to request him to play on-air 'honks' for them.
Keith had nothing at all pasted in his extensive scrapbook about COLEX '67, which is quite unusual, but presumably, press coverage of the second major Big L event of he year was not good. I had to send him the London Weekly Advertiser clipping to prove to him that he really was there! The most memorable thing about COLEX '67 appears to be that on the 6th February, Brenda Cogdell had arrived to discover that all the DJ equipment and records intended to be used by Radio London, had been stolen.
The London Weekly Advertiser refers to a feature it had published in the previous week's edition, which I had never seen and neither had Keith Skues, so I asked Ray Reynolds, who has an extensive collection of newspaper clippings, if he could help. Ray came up trumps and the item below is a stitched-together composite of the original London Weekly Advertiser feature all about the Big L Catamaran.
Although the 1967 Camping and Outdoor Life Exhibition is stated to be the 9th such event, there is nothing to be found about any of the COLEX events via net searches.
We can only assume that the catamaran was not a massive seller and was doomed to become one of Radio London's least successful promotions.