Peter Herring Remembers,

"More music, more music, more music..."

(Picture - Photographer Peter (right) with John Sales)

My best memory of Big L 97 is the music that was played during the two broadcasts. Songs like the Sixties group Nirvana with their hit "Tiny Goddess", Johnny Young's version of "Craise Finton Kirk", Strawberry Children with "Love Years Coming", The Spencer Davis Group with "Time Seller", The Ivy League with "Suddenly Things" and Truly Smith's "I Want To Go Back There Again". No doubt Truly means the Sixties with all this good music! It seems incredible to me that before I listened to Big L 97 I had never heard any of these records, nor had I ever heard many others which were regularly played during the two broadcasts, and I am a Sixties music fan! Why don't we hear any of them on any of the Gold stations of today?

I was only eight when the Marine Offences Act silenced Big L on 14th August 1967, so I never listened to offshore radio in the Sixties, but can just remember hearing my Dad listening to Radio 390. The only original Big L I have heard is from recordings, and I must say the DJs on the Yeoman Rose in August and the Ocean Defender in December 97 did an excellent job as the style and atmosphere sounded just like the original.

The legacy of Big L 97 for me was this. A few days after the closedown in August, I phoned an old friend who has a huge Sixties record collection, and asked if he had heard of "Craise Finton Kirk". He said he had the single which he'd bought on its original release in 1967. I also asked if he knew who did "A Walk In The Sky" (not played on Big L). It turned out to be the Flowerpot Men and he had that as well. I sent my friend a tape and on its return I found he'd put another version of "Craise Finton Kirk" by The Bee Gees on it as well.

I decided to try and find "Tiny Goddess", by Nirvana. Going to a good record shop in Essex, I found a Nirvana CD with the wanted track on it. I have lost count of the number of times I have played that CD, and I think every track is brilliant. I have recently bought another Nirvana CD containing more good material. While looking through the racks I found a double CD of The Ivy League, one of the tracks being "Suddenly Things". I bought it and found many more good tracks on it which I had never heard before.

Now knowing that the Flowerpot Men did "A Walk In The Sky", one which I had wanted for years, I found it included on a newly-released Flowerpot Men CD. Once more, there were many more good tracks, many of which were totally unfamiliar to me. Again Big L indirectly helped me find this track.

Then came another Radio London broadcast from St. Katherine's Dock in London in December 97. Again more songs struck me, like "Fallin' Around", by Chris Montez. I found this on an old vinyl Chris Montez album in a second-hand record shop here in Romford. It also had another of his rare tracks on it, called "Ay No Digas", which I had been searching for since hearing it regularly on Radio Northsea in the early 70's.

With all this good music being found as a result of Big L 97, I have bought more CDs of groups of that era, like The Sandpipers, who do a very good vocal version of "Cast Your Fate To The Wind". Another vocal version, by Shelby Flint, had been played on Big L in August. Other greats were Spanky and Our Gang, Harper's Bizarre, The Cowsills and Dionne Warwick with "Windows of the World", played during the London broadcast in December, another track which I had never heard before. More recently I have bought a newly-issued Spencer Davis Group CD with all their releases from 1967-69, which includes a version of "Time Seller" but not quite the same as the one played on Big L.

So all these CDs and vinyl discs would not have been bought if it was not for Wonderful Big L being returned to the airwaves during 1997. It would be very nice to hear a permanent, more powerful, Radio London return to the air, allowing many more people to hear good music, the like of which we have not heard in years on British radio. British Solid Gold radio is so boring!!

I would like to thank everybody who was involved in the two broadcasts in 1997, and hope one day it can be done again.

One of Peter's superb memory-jogging pictures of Big L 97 - the shop, pier train and Big Lil herself. Now if only he'd been able to get her to turn her good side towards the camera...

Peter Herring 1999

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