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, or have something to add to featured stories, please click on the mail button to the right and let us know!
Martin Thompson recalls a memorable Radio London Club afternoon in the Summer of 1965
(with additional Fab Forty notes by Mary Payne)
On 31st July 1965, I attended the Radio London Club Saturday Afternoon at the Marquee Club in London's Wardour Street. As member 2T. 382, I was proudly wearing my pin club badge, which I still have.
Tony Windsor and Kenny Everett hosted the afternoon and took it in turns on stage, introducing guests who all had new releases to plug. Sonny & Cher had literally just arrived in the UK to promote their single, I Got You Babe, which had entered the Billboard chart that day. The Amercian duo made four UK TV appearances during the first half of August.
At the Marquee, the DJs held a competition for selected audience members to mime to the song. The record's official UK release date had been 16th July. it leapt straight into the Fab Forty at #24 on 8th August and reached the top slot on 22nd August. However, Cher's solo cover of Dylan's All I really Want to Do had beaten it into the Big L chart one week earlier on 1st August. I Got You Babe entered the UK nationals on 12th August and rose to spend 2 weeks at the top of the chart on 24th August. Thus, I Got You Babe topped two charts in the UK very shortly after 14th August, which was the date when it reached the top slot in both Billboard and Cashbox in the US. Kenny and Cash couldn't resist spoofing Sonny and Cher's smash hit with their November release, Knees – which sadly wasn't a smash!
(left) TW, Sue and Carolyn each autographed my Radio London Club Newsletter, which had been sent to me by club secretary Robyn Rogers
I enjoyed dancing with two of the other star guests. Sue Thompson (20 years my senior!) had enjoyed Fab Forty success with Paper Tiger, #21 back in February. Like Sonny and Cher, Sue was in the UK promoting her latest release, It's Breakup Time (released 30th July). She also appeared on Top of the Pops on 29th July, then Thank Your Lucky Stars on 7th August, alongside Sonny & Cher.
My second dance partner was another US visitor, Carolyn Hester, a folk singer whose single Come on Back was released in the UK on 31st July. Folk was very big in 1965, with Dylan, Donovan and Joan Baez all making their marks on the Fab Forty and Kenny and Cash running a 'Dylan vs Donovan' competition.
Carolyn was from Texas and a contemporary of Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. She, Buddy and Norman had collaborated on musical projects. When in England, Norman became good friends with fellow Texan, Big L Programme Director Ben Toney, which invariably resulted in Carolyn's Marquee appearance. Carolyn had headed a UK concert already that week, on 29th July, organised by Portsmouth Folkhouse.
I took my small, portable Philips EL 3586, reel-to-reel tape recorder with me and I went backstage to interview Tony Windsor for my own use. Unfortunately I was inexperienced in microphone recording in such an environment and did not pay enough attention to Tony's advice on optimal positioning. Consequently, the background noise coming from the stage severely spoilt the interview.
As the UK record release dates do not tie in with Ben's recollection, he was likely to have been thinking of Baby Don't Go, which had indeed come out months earlier, in February 65. When I Got You Babe became a massive hit, the record companies rushed to cash in by releasing, or rereleasing as many Sonny and Cher tracks as possible, both duo and solo recordings.
In Page 9 of his memoir, Ben also writes about Cher's extreme shyness and his friendship with Norman Petty, who when they met, was managing and promoting Carolyn Hester.
In 1969, an advertisement appeared in Disc and Music Echo, selling a recording that it was claimed would 'reveal the truth' about Radio London.
We asked Mark Roman for his comments about this advertisement and he says:
"It is possible that this happened, I suppose, but it was a long time ago and I have no recollection of a 50-minute interview about Radio London being recorded in my 'luxury' apartment. Luxury is stretching it a bit! In fact, the main selling point of the apartment was a view of Sydney Harbour Bridge. The fact that I don't recall this interview doesn't mean it didn't happen, though. Perhaps people actually bought a copy of the tape and maybe someone still has it? It would be interesting to hear it, but apart from that I can offer you nothing."
(With many thanks to Jon Myer for the DAME clip)