Ed Laney Ed Laney In June 1964 radio amateur Eric Davies was tuning around the dial when he discovered a very distorted signal on the 160 metre band. After listening closely he discovered that it was a new offshore station testing on a medium wave frequency but also sending out this unwanted harmonic as well. Eric telephoned the number he heard mentioned, intending to complain about this intrusion onto the amateur band. His call was answered by one Tom Pepper. Pepper was the boss of the new station, Radio Invicta, and he offered Eric a job as an engineer. Soon after, Eric found himself on Red Sands Fort in the Thames estuary helping to get things ready for the station's July launch. Once Invicta was on the air, all members of the team were expected to present programmes, including the engineers. Each used a number of different aliases in an effort to make it appear a bigger operation than it really was. Eric was referred to as “six foot three inch Swedish giant Eric Peterson” despite not being a giant or Swedish and he also presented programmes as Ed Laney. It was a fairly basic and dangerous existence on the fort in those early days and on one occasion Eric had to be taken off by lifeboat after a winch fell on his foot. He stayed with the station until November but, with the seas getting rougher and the finances looking somewhat uncertain, decided that it was time to move on. He wrote a fascinating article about his time with Radio Invicta for the December 1999 issue of the Reading and District Amateur Radio Club journal, from which most of this information and the photograph have been taken. Sadly Eric has since died. Des Howlett of the Reading and District Amateur Radio Club wrote in July 2003: “Eric died last year. Very suddenly and causing a lot of shock to all of us who knew him. He was a fantastic person who would take time to help anyone who needed it (even though he had 30 or 40 years on most of us). Amongst the Radio Amateurs of Reading he is sorely missed.” (Thanks to Des Howlett and Chris Catt for their help. We previously reported that Eric had also broadcast as Tony Silver. This is incorrect. Our apologies for this error.)

Johnny Lark Johnny Lark At the age of 16 John Brench embarked on a stage career. Alongside Bob Monkhouse, he worked as a comedian using the professional name ‘Johnny Lark’. While serving in the RAF, he got his first taste of radio, entertaining his fellow troops on forces radio in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). With the arrival of offshore radio in the UK, he was keen to continue in broadcasting and signed up for Radio Invicta, an early station which broadcast from Red Sands fort off the coast of Kent. Johnny continued to use his old stage name on air. Invicta had a short and eventful existence. In December 1964 the station owner, Tom Pepper, drowned when his boat sank, also taking the lives of engineer Martin Shaw and DJ Simon Ashley. Johnny says “I was lucky to have returned from my week off a few days prior to the tragic accident.” Invicta limped on for a few months but Johnny did not stay. He says “After the accident to Tom Pepper my wife and family were not keen for me to return to the fort. Also I was offered pantomime for that Christmas.” So Johnny left and, although other offshore ventures were keen to employ him, he turned them down. “I was offered a position on two of the ships, Radio London and Radio England, but could not face the prospect of sea sickness. I retired from broadcasting and bought a hotel in Cliftonville, Kent. I took up local politics and was Chairman of Leisure. Also Mayor of Margate.” He didn't lose interest in radio though. “When the first franchise was invited by the IBA to run the East Kent Independent local radio station I formed a group named East Kent Radio. The franchise was won by the Canterbury group Network East Kent and on winning the contract took Desmond Carrington's failed group's name ‘Radio Invicta’ and his studios. I am now retired, living in the village of Minster on the Isle of Thanet, Kent. I am pleased to hear from anybody who still remembers ‘your old matey mate’ Johnny Lark.” (Our grateful thanks to Johnny for getting in touch, for supplying the information and the photo.)

Bob Larkins Bob Larkins Born in Tasmania in 1938, Bob had been an actor and a commercial copywriter, as well as doing some work on station HOFM in Hobart, before coming to Britain in 1962. He worked at the Mermaid Theatre in London, as did other future Caroline colleagues Gerry Burke and Nick Bailey. In February 1965 Bob joined the team at Caroline House, working as a scriptwriter and arranging interviews with the stars. According to his daughter Rachel: “Family legend has it that he bluffed his way into the job. He had previous experience working at HOFM but not quite as much as he made out but I guess with his Irish blood he was able to talk his way into a job and almost immediately found himself interviewing Alfred Hitchcock.” As well as presenting these star interviews, in August 1966 Bob became a newsreader on the South ship for a few months. With a growing family, he returned to Australia and took a job with the Education Department in Tasmania, writing copy for departmental publications. He still found time to do voice-over work for local radio stations and took the occasional acting job, playing a manic boat driver in a film called Save The Lady. He also wrote a book about the Australian actor Chips Rafferty. When his marriage broke up he moved to Sydney where he was employed by Channel 10 television and, later, by the ABC. He died of cancer in July 1999. (With many thanks to Rachel Larkins for most of the above information and to Ken Guy for putting us in touch. The photo is courtesy of Bob's Caroline colleague Keith Hampshire who writes: “I thought you might like this photo of Bob Larkins to add to your web site. He was a great guy. May he rest in peace.” Our thanks to Keefers and to Carl Thomson who took the photo.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Bob Larkins reading a 12.30pm headline news bulletin from August 1966 on Radio Caroline South. The headline bulletin was little more than a trailer for the main news bulletin which included greater detail and was broadcast half an hour later. This clip is taken from the Offshore Echo's tape Offshore Classics vol.27 and is used with kind permission (duration 58 seconds)

Dominic Le Foe Radio 390's daytime output was very much aimed at a housewife audience with its title of ‘Eve the woman's magazine of the air’ but outside these primetime hours the station catered for a wider audience. In 1966 it launched a unique evening magazine programme for people involved in industry, farming and commerce. Called The Voice Of Business, it was unlike any other show on British radio at the time, either offshore or BBC, in that it was totally aimed at a business audience. It was presented by Dominic Le Foe with help from Brian Cullingford and the well-known newsreel commentator Leslie Mitchell. Dominic Le Foe was an actor who had appeared in the trail blazing 1953 TV drama The Quatermass Experiment. He had other jobs in parallel to his stage career, including that of journalist, parliamentary correspondent, antiques dealer and public relations consultant. In 1966 he was Director General of the Commonwealth Migration Council. This was a part-time post and he was looking around for something else to occupy his time. A colleague pointed out a personal ad in The Times. Radio 390 was looking for a presenter for its new business programme. Dominic applied, was interviewed by Managing Director Ted Allbeury, and was given the job on the spot. The Voice of Business was recorded on land but Dominic did make a couple of visits out to Radio 390's fort which he described as “great fun”. He and his colleagues produced 130 editions of The Voice of Business. It was broadcast every weekday evening with a weekend omnibus edition. Although the programme was run without commercial breaks, it covered its costs in an innovative way. Many of the industrialists interviewed on the programme wanted tape copies of the show. Radio 390 duplicated them for a fee of £5 a copy. Following a court case in November 1966 the station closed down and the programme's run was abruptly terminated. Believing that it was outside territorial waters, Radio 390 did resume broadcasts at the end of the year but The Voice of Business did not return. Dominic continued his interesting and varied life, running The Players Theatre company for thirty years. It provided a home for Victorian music hall in London and played host to BBC TV's The Good Old Days. Dominic died on June 2nd 2010, aged 78, after a short illness. (Many thanks to Dominic, Richard Winch and Martin van der Ven.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio The start of an edition of The Voice of Business on Radio 390 from November 1966. It is only a very short clip and the tape ‘wows’ badly. If anyone can provide a better recording, please get in touch. Many thanks to David Sinclair for this tape (duration 26 seconds)
click to hear audio click to hear audio A promotion for an edition of The Voice of Business on Radio 390 from 1966. Recording kindly contributed by Martyn Webster (duration 14 seconds)

Samantha Leigh Samantha Leigh presented a few editions of Radio 390's Dinner At Eight programme in 1967. Born in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, Samantha was a singer. Early in her career she appeared on television's Opportunity Knocks talent contest under the name of ‘Bobbie Ember’. Unfortunately she was beaten in the public vote by a man with a talking dog! She released a couple of pop singles: Why Can't You Bring Me Home, as Bobbie Ember, and I Found My Love Today as Samantha Leigh. Radio 390 boss Ted Allbeury saw her performing in cabaret and asked if she would like to become a broadcaster. She agreed to give it a try but never visited the Radio 390 fort as her shows were recorded in the station's London studio. In an interview for the Midlands newspaper, The Sunday Mercury, she is quoted as saying that she never heard her own programme on the air as Radio 390's signal could not be picked up at her home in Birmingham: “The pirate radio station I listened to was Caroline, especially Johnnie Walker's shows. But my programme got a lot of fan mail. A lot of men liked the middle of the road stuff! To be honest, I had no real ambitions to be a DJ. You have to know about the records you play, and I was really only interested in singing. If pirate radio had continued, I probably would have carried on. I didn't want to tour all over the place but I would have gone down to London once a week to record a radio show.” Unfortunately Radio 390 did not carry on and Samantha's broadcasting career was short. Now a grandmother, she still sings occasionally but not professionally, just for fun, in her local pub. (Information from ‘The Sunday Mercury’, photo from ‘Radio News’. Thanks to Mike Barraclough for his help.)

The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame needs your

The site is updated regularly and we are always on the look-out for new material to add. If you have any information, photographs, recordings or contact details for any of the disc-jockeys we haven't been able to trace, please get in touch.

Jerry Leighton Jerry Leighton Born in London in 1936, Jerry was brought up in Canada before returning to the UK in 1955. He worked as a fashion designer, compère, singer, comedian and script writer before joining the mv.Fredericia, the original Radio Caroline ship off the Essex coast. When Caroline merged with the rival Radio Atlanta, Jerry stayed on the Fredericia as she sailed north. Along with Tom Lodge and Alan Turner, the three remained on the air for a unique long-distance broadcast, as the ship travelled to her new anchorage off the Isle Of Man. Known as Jerry “Soopa” Leighton, he presented The Leighton Early Show on Caroline North and was senior disc-jockey. He used a number of different theme tunes including: Country Line Special by Cyril Davies, Hallelujah Gathering by the Geoff Love Orchestra and Super-Duper Man by Jimmy Cross. For a time in 1965 Jerry left the ship to work in Caroline House, London. In 1966 The Beatles toured America and three offshore DJs accompanied them to send back reports. Kenny Everett went from Radio London, Ron O'Quinn from “Swinging” Radio England and Jerry went from Caroline. (You can hear one of Jerry's reports on the Rick Dane audio clip.) Jerry Leighton left Caroline when the Marine Offences Act was introduced in 1967 and he dropped from view. He did not keep in touch with his former colleagues and his whereabouts were something of a mystery. However, in early 2014, a production company - with the help of The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame - tracked him down and he was interviewed for an Irish radio documentary about Radio Caroline. The interview, with producer Trevor Dann, is here. Now retired, it appears that, after his time at sea, Jerry ran an antique shop for a while then worked in casinos for many years. When redundancy brought that to an end he became a cab and limousine driver. (Many thanks to George Morris for the revised theme tune details. This photo was issued by The Caroline Club. There are more pictures of Jerry in Nick Bailey's, Alan Turner's and Mick Luvzit's photo albums.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Jerry on The Leighton Early Show on Radio Caroline North, 25th August 1965. Tape kindly provided by Stuart Russell (duration 1 minute 53 seconds)

Jerry Leighton yawn patrol card
Thanks to Chris Davies for this Jerry Leighton Yawn Patrol card.

Mike Lennox Mike Lennox Born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1940, Mike attended college in Texas where he completed a course in “basic radio and television microphone technique”. At the end of his student days, he returned to Canada and became a DJ on a small local station in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. From there he moved to a couple of other stations before heading south to Bermuda, where he met up with Duncan Johnson. Mike came to Britain and worked as a model and acted in various TV and film commercials. He also had a bit-part in the Peter Cushing film Doctor Who and the Daleks. His old colleague, Duncan, suggested he should join Radio London and, in November 1965, he did. Known as “The Marshall”, he took over the Breakfast Show when Dave Cash moved on. His theme tune was the Herb Albert's Tijuana Brass version of I'm Getting Sentimental Over You. Mike remained a major member of the Radio London team up until the end, although for a time he left the ship to work for the station on land. During this period ashore he also found time to appear in another film, playing a disc-jockey in Rita Tushingham's A Smashing Time. Following the anti-pirate legislation he worked for the BBC and appeared in another British film, The Best House In London, but then moved back to Canada. He is now living in Vancouver where he deals in real estate. There is a video of Mike broadcasting on Radio London here and photos of him in Dave Hawkins' and Willy Walker's photo albums and a recent one, taken in Australia by his old Radio London colleague Norman St.John, here. (This photo from ‘Beat Wave’ magazine.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio The Marshall talking to the “guys and gals, little ones and kittens” on Radio London from Sunday evening 23rd July 1967. Tape courtesy of Ray Andrews (duration 2 minutes 41 seconds)

Galaxy notepaper letterheading
Thanks to ‘Softly’ for this piece of Galaxy notepaper.

Bob Le Roi Bob Le Roi was born in Canterbury, Kent, in May 1949. He first got involved with offshore radio while still at school. Radio City's station manager Eric K Martin asked him to help out by making “tender tapes”. These were pre-recorded programmes which were played on air while the supply tender was visiting the station. Everybody was needed to help unload the boat and haul everything up the tower so the DJ had to abandon his live programme and play a tape instead. In March 1965 Bob was invited out to the Radio City fort to present his first live shows. Aged 15, he was the youngest DJ on offshore radio at the time. His first theme tune was by Valerie Mountain & The Eagles from their Some People EP, later replaced by the George Martin Orchestra's All Quiet on the Mersey Front. During the seventies Bob provided some taped programmes for Radio Caroline. He has since been heard on BBC local radio and a number of commercial stations, including Invicta Radio, Southern Radio, Channel Travel Radio and Medway FM, where he was also Programme Director. He has taken part in some of the Radio London restricted service re-creations and similar ones for Radio Northsea. He has also been heard on a daily programme in Malta on Calypso FM. For more details see www.bobleroi.co.uk. In May 2004 Bob organised a reunion to mark the fortieth anniversary of Radio Sutch and Radio City. There are pictures on his site. (Many thanks to Bob for the information, the photo and the recording.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio a short clip of Bob Le Roi on Radio City from 1965. Tape courtesy of the man himself (duration 45 seconds)

share certificate for Tom Lodge's Wigan Pier oil well
Share certificate for Tom Lodge's Wigan Pier oil well, as promoted on Caroline North, kindly provided by Brian Cullen.

Tom Lodge Tom Lodge was destined to work in broadcasting. His grand-father, Sir Oliver Lodge, was one of the pioneers of wireless telegraphy. Tom was born in Forest Green, Surrey, in 1936 but his family moved to America when he was four. He came back to the UK for his schooling but, on his 18th birthday, sailed to Canada where he worked as a cowboy. He spent two years on an expedition into the frozen wastes of the Canadian Arctic, an experience he later wrote about in his book Beyond the Great Slave Lake. He joined CBC, the Canadian state broadcaster, and after working for them in Canada was posted to London. A chance meeting with Radio Caroline's founder Ronan O'Rahilly in a pub led to Tom joining the new station off the coast of East Anglia in 1964, just after the first broadcast. When the ship sailed to the Isle Of Man to become Radio Caroline North, it was Jerry Leighton, Alan Turner and Tom who kept broadcasting during the journey. (There is more about this voyage, including audio clips, here.) Tom stayed on the North ship through most of 1965 but transferred to the South ship when Ronan O'Rahilly bought out his partner towards the end of the year. He was aboard the south ship, the mv.Mi Amigo, on the night in January 1966 when she lost her anchor and was washed up on the beach. He presented the Breakfast Show on both ships and was senior DJ / Programme Controller. He used two different versions of the same tune for his theme: Rinky Dink by both the Johnny Howard Band and by Sounds Incorporated, as well as the latter group's I'm Coming Through. After leaving Caroline Tom worked briefly for the BBC (a series called Radio One O'Clock in early 1968) before returning to Canada where he worked in radio for a time, became Head of Communications at the University of Ontario, farmed jojoba nuts in Costa Rica, wrote a second book Success Without Goals, set up the International Breatherapy Association, managed his son's pop group, The Corndogs, and worked with a Californian project called Radio One Earth. In 1995 he moved back to the UK and was heard on Caroline's low powered “restricted service” broadcasts in Clacton, London and Kent. Tom returned to America where he operated the Stillpoint Zen Community in Santa Cruz, California. He wrote a book about his time at sea, part of which he allowed us to include on The Pirate Radio Hall Of Fame. See The Ship That Rocked the World: The Radio Caroline Story. Tom was interviewed over the phone on the Radio Caroline satellite service on Easter Sunday 2004. He discussed his time on the ships, his memories of the station and his book. The interview was so well received that he was asked to provide regular programmes. He did this with the help of his son Tom Lodge Junior but bowed out at Easter 2007. At the end of 2011 Tom posted on Facebook that he was suffering from cancer. He kept friends, former colleagues and listeners updated on the illness but died on 25th March 2012, aged 75. Our tribute to this giant of offshore radio is here. (This photo was issued by The Caroline Club. Tom features in some pictures in Keith Hampshire's photo album and very kindly provided some fantastic photographs and items of memorabilia from his own collection. See Tom Lodge's photo album.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Tom Lodge on the Radio Caroline North Breakfast Show, 12th July 1965. Tape courtesy of Ray Andrews (duration 2 minutes 10 seconds)

share certificate for Tom Lodge's Wapping Swamp oil well
Share certificate for Tom Lodge's Wapping Swamp oil well, as promoted on Caroline South.

Graham London Radio Tower was one of the less successful offshore radio ventures of the sixties. Based on Sunk Head anti-aircraft fort, about ten miles off Walton on the Naze in Essex, it operated intermittently during the last few months of 1965 and first few of 1966 but never really got beyond the test transmission stage. Graham London was one of the presenters and, in November 2010, he contacted The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. He says that after his brief career in broadcasting, he joined the Parachute Regiment, followed by the French Foreign Legion. He is now back working offshore again, this time as a diver in the oil industry, based in Aberdeen. He says he had a great time on the tower but it was “a little primitive”. Asked for any memories of life aboard Sunk Head, he replied that the main one was of “perpetual dampness”! (Our thanks to Graham for getting in touch.)

Adrian Love Adrian Love Born in York on 3rd August 1944, Adrian was the son of band leader Geoff Love. After finishing his education his first job was working in a tailor's shop but he did not stay long. He then joined the music business, dealing with artist management and music publishing. He also played bass in various jazz bands and a symphony orchestra before applying for a job with Radio City in 1966. Despite his lack of broadcasting experience, the station gave him a chance and Adrian ended up presenting the Breakfast Show from the “tower of power.” When City closed down he moved to the BBC Light Programme, then the World Service and, for a while, ran the United Biscuits Network, a factory radio station which employed a number of former pirate DJs. London's LBC launched in 1973 and, shortly afterwards, Adrian joined to present a phone-in show. From there he moved to Capital Radio. He was later heard on BBC Radios One and Two, British Forces Broadcasting, County Sound, Jazz FM, Classic FM and BBC Southern Counties Radio. In 1998 he was involved in a serious car accident and, although he survived the crash, his health was never the same again and he died in March 1999. There is an obituary on the BBC website. In 2007 he was inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame. (Thanks to James Pringle for some of the information above. This photo dates from Adrian's time with Capital Radio. Does anyone have a picture from his pirate past?)

click to hear audio click to hear audio a short extract from an Adrian Love news bulletin on Radio City, December 1966, kindly provided by Harm Koenders of The Offshore Radio Archive (duration 51 seconds)
click to hear audio click to hear audio a clip from Radio City's comedy show The Auntie Mabel Hour from 18th December 1966. The regular presenters were on shore-leave so Adrian and Paul Kramer were sitting-in. This is taken from the full-length recording, made available by The Offshore Radio Archive (duration 3 minutes 31 seconds)

Mick Luvzit Mick Luvzit Born on 24th February 1944, according to his official Radio Caroline biography, in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, Mick was a talented musician, winning a violin competition at the age of 14. He worked for a number of Canadian radio stations, including CKY, CHWO, CHIC, CHUM and CFGM before heading for the UK. He initially joined Caroline South in June 1966 before moving to the North ship. He was welcomed by the listeners and received over a thousand fan letters in his first week on air. His theme was Tune Up by Junior Walker and the All Stars. In 1966 Mick released a single on the Decca label A Long Time Between Lovers. While working on Caroline North Mick met Janet, the sister of a fellow Caroline DJ “Ugli” Ray Teret. They began dating and there was talk of marriage. Someone (possibly Tony Prince, possibly Mick himself) suggested that they should capitalise on the romantic idea of being married at sea by a ship's captain and tie the knot on board the mv.Fredericia. The wedding took place on 20th September 1966, performed by the Caroline captain Martin Gips and with a commentary on Caroline North from news-chief Graham Webb. (For more about the wedding, see this article and Mick's photo album.) Sadly the marriage was not to last and they divorced during the seventies. Steve Young brought us up to date during 2000: “Mick Luvzit is living in Vancouver. He broadcasts for a Christian radio station located just across the border in Washington State. They built a studio for him in his home and he works from there.” In February 2001 Mick himself contacted The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame to say: “I'm busy putting together my studio here in my home so I can do some radio shows for the UK and Ireland.” In December 2001 the first of these took place when Mick guested on Kenny Tosh's programme on Belfast's CityBeat FM. This was followed by a live show on CityBeat in August 2002 when Mick was visiting the UK for a DJ reunion. There are pictures of the reunion on the Offshore Radio Guide and Radio London web sites. Mick also helped to organise another DJ reunion in Vancouver in July 2004. There are photos here. In November 2010 we heard from Mick again. He told us he had been busy writing a script for a documentary on addiction to alcohol and drugs. Sadly Mick died on 8th December 2012. At the time of his death he was said to be 70 which casts doubt on the birthdate above. We think the Caroline Press Office probably knocked a couple of years off his age and he was actually born on 24th February 1942. Our tribute to Mick is here. (The photo, above, shows Mick singing his song ‘Long Time Between Lovers’ at a Caroline Night Out at the Wimbledon Palais in 1966. Many thanks to him for supplying it.)

click to hear audio click to hear audio Mick Luvzit from his 3-6pm show on Radio Caroline North, 2nd June 1967. The tape has kindly been provided by Steve Kirby (duration 3 minutes 2 seconds)

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