50 years ago in the Music Industry 18 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

Life, a lack of articles I could physically copy from my bound volumes, and a lack of articles generally (maybe one of the down-sides of being Assistant Editor at the time) has resulted in this ongoing series having had a long holiday.

However, over 18 months has gone by since the Marine Offences Bill ended the golden years of broadcasting and Ray Coleman obviously thought my then interest in the ship and fort personalities merited this update.


Near impossible to read, so I’ll transcribe the captions, which appeared in the January 4, 1969 edition of Disc. (Was that how we spelled discotheques in those days?. Ray would surely have jumped on me if I’d missed out the ‘h’!)


Roger Day: Another Caroline stalwart and one-time rival to Tony Blackburn around breakfast time. Managed a short stint at Radio Luxembourg at a ludicrously late hour and now hopes to survives on discoteque appearances until the BBC say “yes”.

Stevi Merike: Another Radio Caroline stalwart. After trying his luck in Holland discoteques, returned to Britain and helped vainly in Radio Free London’s short broadcasts in August. Periodically phones Disc with news of impending Apple recording contracts.

Johnnie Walker: Best-known face of all, yet still without the BBC show he richly deserves. Remained faithful to Radio Caroline until its dying day and is now of course responsible for Disc’s R-n-B column. Predict 1969 will bring Johnnie either a regular radio or tv show.

Don Allen: “Daffy Don” and his “big wide wonderful world” hold the record for longest serving “pirate”…nearly four years service. Loyalty unrewarded Don now tours North of England with Bud Ballou and Jason Wolfe at discoteque P.A’s. Still hopeful of a BBC show.

Carl Mitchell: Caroline man, known as the “weird beard” – and you can see why. Apart from an extraordinary tale of taking London double-decker buses to Holland as mobile boutiques and discoteques, and occasional frantic phone calls to Roger Day, little comes to light. Apparently working in Dutch clubs.

Dave Dennis: The original lunchtime man on Big L, the “Double D” lasted nearly 18 months on the “Galaxy” before the lure of his fiancee proved too much. Returned to shore, married and moved to peaceful farm in Ireland. Still listens to Radio 1 and answered Kenny Evertt’s broadcast call “in minutes”.

Mark Roman: Of the “Roman Empire” and Radio London fame. Was among the first to gain a BBC contract, and almost the first to lose it again. After a violent outburst in Disc against the state of radio in Britain, packed his bags and left for Australia where he now hosts daily show on top-rated 2UE station in Sydney.

Bryan Vaughan: Radio Caroline original stalwart, and subsequently Radio Scotland, and a short spell for Polydor on Radio Luxembourg. Married his number one fan and sweetheart Jean from Caroline days and moved to Australia a few years ago. Now works as assistant head of exploitation for Philips records in Sydney and has two children.

Doug Kerr: Another Caroline original who paved the commercial way back in 1964. Canadian by birth and much admired during his stay on the boat. When fired, he unsuccessfully tried to become a protection officer. Subsequently sailed to New York where he now works in a steel factory. According to many of his Caroline colleagues, Doug was considered one of the best broadcasters of his time.

Andy Archer: Another Caroline South man, stranded since the station vanished. During first few months after Caroline’s March madness last year, Andy tried unsuccessfully to refloat a station. Among abortive attempts were a trip to Red Sands Fort (formerly Radio 390) ending with a clever rescue by coastguards. Has since admitted defeat and now works in a Northern discoteque.

Tom Lodge: Best remembered by me for the time he broadcast  for 16 hours non-stop while mv Caroline sailed from off Frinton round to the Isle of Man. Had a short (very short) stint as compere of the late “Radio-one-o-clock” show on BBC, but soon returned to his wife’s boutique in Gloucester. Earlier this year upped and moved to Canada where, after weeks hounding, he’s now joined a commercial station there.

Mike Lennox: “The Marshall” of Big L as he was affectionately known. Again managed to secure a BBC contract when Radio 1 began, but decided to move into films because “BBC obviously didn’t want me any more.” Spent this summer making “Alfred the Great” with David Hemmings and begins new film with Hemmings’ company in the spring.

Duncan Johnson: At one time the most recognisable voice on pirate radio and ideal late-night DJ. However when he left Big L, Radio 1 gave him short-lived “Midday Spin” spot. Duncan now runs a photographic studio with partner Brian Ward, models occasionally and does Radio 1 jingles. The most sadly neglected, talented DJ to come from the pirates.

Garry Kemp: Another of Caroline’s best DJ’s, fired, with Mike Allen because he didn’t toe the line and spoke his mind over the air. Later returned to the sea with Radio 353 under the name of Gordon Bennett (Gordon Bennett!!!) but vanished after only three months on board and has never been heard of since.

Mike Aherne:  Caroline North and South and their most successful housewife’s DJ, with incredible fan mail. Like Mark Roman (and Graham “Spider” Webb) has moved to Australia where he now has his own morning daily show on Radio1UE, Sydney

Mike Allen: Possibly the most serious-minded of all the pirate DJ’s. First to broadcast jazz and blues to Radio Caroline and the only DJ ever to attack pop singles over the air if he didn’t like them…which was often. Fired from Caroline with Garry Kemp, Roger Gail and others in big DJ purge during 1966 and returned to Potters Bar home and family.


Do update these near 50-year-old stories if you have news, and add any other “lost” pirate DJ’s.

©David Hughes 2018

About dhvinyl

Lifelong obsession with music, 33 years in the music business, 43 years immersed in selling old records, 20 years very happily retired!
This entry was posted in A Life in Music - random memories, Disc and Music Echo 1967-1972, pirate radio, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 50 years ago in the Music Industry 18 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

  1. John Lilley says:

    Fabulous memories David. I used to buy Disc and Music Echo every week, and actually remember reading this article. I may still have it in a cardboard box in my attic! After all these years, it still surprises me that Johnnie Walker has not been given the BBC network airtime he deserves. And it is nothing short of criminal that Radio 1 didn’t exploit the talents of Roger Day. There was so much talent on the pirate stations, but only one Radio 1 in 1967 and I still think it was sad that many of these guys became disillusioned with the radio business in this country and drifted into other ventures or had to go abroad to make use of their broadcasting talent. Such a waste, many thanks again for the post!


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