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Pirate Radio...?

Hi there,From what I gather, the pirate radio stations in the 60's would have been a mixed blessing for the mod culture in the 60's: On the one hand, they would have catered for mods basic demand to add a fair dash of colour to their lives, but on the other hand these stations were also blatantly commercial by nature; they would have drawn on elements of the scene and mixed these with bland popular music, thus, they would have played a significant role in the exploitation of mod's formerly secretive motivitation but at the same time they would also have introduced the masses to some fairly good music. No longer would one have to ransack dingy little underground stores in order to find new and rare tracks (which for me to this day is a key element), but one would simply tune in to the right programs at the right time. The Who have expressed this effect on the mod movement in general beautifully with their aptly named "Sell Out" album. However, apart from their "Radio London" Jingle, I can't really find any references to pirate radio in mod-related literature.Therefor, I would like to direct my question, first and foremost to the senior mods: How big a role did pirate stations actually play in the mod movement? Of all the stations at the time (the nationwide Radio England and Radio Britain, as well as the regional Radio London, Radio Tower, Radio City, Radio Channel, Radio 390, Radio Caroline, Radio Essex, Radio Scotland and Radio Caroline North), were there any ones more suited than others to cater for mods/stylists' tastes? Were there any programs/DJ's that were considered "a must"? Were these stations aimed at mods at all? What was the general (or your specific) mod-view on these stations?So many questions, I hope that somebody can shed some light on this, for me, blurry subject.

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  • Yes, good old Radio Luxembourg. At one time, the ever vain DJ, Peter Murray (call me Pete), came to our company and parked his car in the garage below. In those days 'fans' would ask for his autograph and after business, everyone was anxious to see him depart. Mostly to get a view of the Sunbeam Harrington Alpine that he arrived in. Only about 400 of these conversions were ever made in the 1960's. Rare as hens teeth.
    Anyway, the immaculately dressed Mr. Murray left by the fire escape with a number of onlookers and followers to the garage. It took a while to open up and move vehicles as space was tight, but from the darkness emerged this (new I think) Alpine.
    People were ready to get wowed by our hero leaving  and wave him off, when suddenly all the attention was grabbed by a large crowd gasping at my Li 150 gleaming in the darkness, with chrome panels, all lights, all everything, parked next a stunning Gs150. Needless to say, Murray was completely upstaged and appeared to leave in a huff!!
    Happy days.

    • Haha, what a nice recollection, Sohomod!

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  • A lot of the records being played down the mod strongholds of The Flamingo and Scene Club were sourced as imports and the music didn't really see the light of day outside of the basement clubs. Thanks to people like Guy Stevens at The Scene, singles were getting due recognition at the larger distributors like Pye Records ( through subsidiaries R&B Records on the familiar red and yellow labels etc).
    Prior to this companies like Decca had a nice cozy relationship with Radio Luxemburg and had tight control over the airplay on the radio station. At the time in 1963?, I worked for several advertising agencies and print companies, where one of them had either the Decca or Radio Luxembourg  Accounts.
    The jingles (small adverts and sound bytes) started here in Soho and approved and the airplay decided at RL offices then in Hertford Street, Mayfair. The pluggers, promoters and publicists had a difficult time to get an "in" for their own artists.
    Not sure if I remember this right, (its 50 years ago!) but the recordings would bespliced with the ads at places like Kay Labs and then onto RL. They were in large heavy circular tin cans about the size of an album and had a similar lid to close it up.
    Early mods like myself would be' messengers' and Post Room boys for these companies, as it was a good way to get into the print or advertising business. The companies would give us the fares to board the buses, going from the soho district in the West End to the Clerkenwell and Fleet Street print offices and back. We would buy 2 stroke with the money and ride our Vespas & Lambrettas backwards and forwards. (Call this work, not really, just posing). But I digress.
    It was Rohnan O'Reilly, owner of The Scene Club who decided that his own acts and promotions were struggling to get airplay. Hence he moored his ship off the English coast and named it Radio Caroline. One of the reasons being to open the airwaves to more niche type music.

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