Back in the lazy, hazy carefree 1960’s lived a DJ and sometime TV presenter named Simon Dee. Dee was, perhaps, the living embodiment of that decade and, it has been claimed by Liz Hurley, was the inspiration for Austin Powers.
Dee’s halcyon days were, however, short-lived and the story of his demise is one that begs to be retold. Dee began his show business life ploughing his trade off the coast of the UK on the pirate radio station Radio Caroline.
Radio Caroline was, according to contemporary history, an attempt by good-natured Capitalists to break free from the shackles of the BBC’s monopoly of all things light-entertainment. The BBC; by dint of its bizarre licence fee funding and political neutrality, being an obviously bad thing that the Establishment felt compelled to replace with a market driven, advertisement funded, commercial alternative.
That said, the BBC did see itself as the guardian of the nation’s morals and was inclined to ban anything vaguely contentious or treat with suspicion anything new that it did not understand.
Therefore, the blindingly obvious solution was to acquire a ship, equip it with high-powered transmitters, sail it outside of British waters and transmit saccharine pop ditties to the youthful, disposable income owning denizens of Great Britain. It is such an obvious commercial model I am only amazed someone hadn’t come up with it before!
Only someone had. Initially, the ship that was to become Radio Caroline had been used as an offshore radio station broadcasting to Southern Sweden but with a broadcasting capability that would have meant it was easily heard behind the Iron Curtain. Originally known as the MV Olga it had been a small coastal cargo vessel. In 1960 it was purchased by two wealthy US businessmen, Gordon McLendon and Clint Murchison Junior, who then shipped its broadcasting equipment from Texas, retooled it and rebadged it as Radio Nord.
As one might suspect there was more to these characters than initially meets the eye, McLendon, according to this article, was known to Jack Ruby, the assassin’s assassin, and had apparently requested to see Ruby immediately after Ruby had shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby was also, apparently, a frequent visitor to McLendon’s US radio station, KLIF.
McLendon was also very cosy with the CIA and this leads to the articlefrom which I have shamelessly culled a lot of this information claiming, tentatively at least, that Radio Nord and Radio Caroline may have been funded by the CIA’s Gray Broadcasting Policy.
Now, given that the purpose of this policy was to broadcast pro US sentiment, it is clear why the Radio Nord operation may have fallen under the remit of the Gray Broadcasting Policy. The reasons for replicating this off the coast of the UK, however, are somewhat less clear.
Therefore, we must expand our minds and consider some more conspiratorial and less savoury motives.
This site tells a very interesting tale concerning Radio Caroline’s test broadcast; “Broadcasting began on Easter Day 1964 with a pre-recorded message from Chris Moore – who (it was reported) was too nervous to open the station live.
In fact, Radio Caroline had hit a serious snag just a day before it was due to go live. The transmitters on the ship had been tested with Moore presenting a dummy programme in order to test the signal and studio equipment.
But bizarrely, due to freak climatic conditions in the Irish Sea and its interaction with radioactive outfall from Sellafield, the audio compressors began receiving at an odd frequency.
As a result, the first ever broadcast from Radio Caroline was the transmission of Chris Moore’s thoughts, beamed out live as he thought them.
The phenomenon lasted for fifteen minutes as engineers scurried around trying to find the source of the problem and many broadcasting firsts were set – including the first ever transmission of the words “wanker”, “fuck”, “bell end” and “twat”.
Moore was hurriedly removed from the studio within minutes, but the equipment continued to pick up his brainwaves throughout the ship and transmit them over the music.
He was put on a fishing boat and taken to Ramsey where, once out of range of the ship, the mental transmissions ceased. Although specialists were brought in to solve the mystery, none could do so before the scheduled launch the next day and so Moore was forced to pre-record his entire output for two weeks.
Rumours of the strange incident reached the ears of the CIA who sent a team of agents to seize the equipment two weeks after Caroline had gone live and replace it with a standard, less paranormal transmitter.
The station’s owner, Ronan O’Rahilly, was eager the incident should be forgotten, and nothing was ever heard of again of either the CIA men or the mass of electronics they took with them”.
Now, whilst this story appeals hugely to my twisted sense of humour, I would suggest we take it with an enormous pinch of salt. It does, however, introduce us to one of the major players behind this story, Ronan O’Rahilly.
O’Rahilly headed a consortium that funded the Radio Caroline project alongside John Sheffield* and Jocelyn Stevens. Stevens, who was married to John Sheffield’s Sister Jane**, was also the proprietor of Queen Magazine. Queen Magazine existed principally to blow smoke up the arse of the privileged and to showcase to the masses how they could never aspire to become part of the Establishment. It’s all in the breeding you know.
Talking of breeding, Jocelyn Steven’s Granddaughter is model du jour Cara Delevingne. Rest assured though, her career is purely down to her talent and hard work and has absolutely nothing to do with nepotism!
|Cara in Wonderland|
*Sheffield is the uncle of Samantha Cameron, wife of the current – though hopefully not for much longer – British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Sam Cam’s mum, having ditched the Sheffield steel, remarried into the extremely wealthy, and not at all dodgy, Astor family. The Astor’s head up the notorious Cliveden Set and were at the heart of the infamous Profumo Affair that would bring down the MacMillan Government that was in control at the time of the launch of Radio Caroline.
**Jane Sheffield was a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret and both she and her husband were part of Margaret’s Mustique set.
Queen magazine is also where the Paul McCartney LSD story was rumoured to have emerged, although I have been unable to find any actual evidence of this. Queen employed Robin Douglas-Home who was nephew of the then Prime Minister Alec Douglas – Home (having taken over the reins from the sick MacMillan) and who had been good friends with JFK. Queen magazine had also been the first to publish rumours about the Profumo affair in 1962 although I would be amazed if Robin Douglas-Home had used his family connections to illicit this information!
Another investor in Radio Caroline was the owner of a chain of record stores and Pickwick Records Allan Crawford. Pickwick Records will be familiar to followers of all things PID as being behind the Merseymania release(s) by Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots, which have been linked to McCartney and The Beatles by virtue of the involvement on the record of a guy called Bill Shepherd. Shepherd, who in reality was an early producer of the Bee Gees, was a supposed identity for the McCartney replacement.
The liner notes for Merseymania were written by a guy called Roger Easterby who would go on to become a press officer for CBS and work with bands such as Vanity Fare and Chicory Tip. It is from a biography of Chicory Tip that I am about to quote as I believe it to be pertinent; “…But it got them noticed and the fourth single, "I Love Onions", was expected to do better. The song had just been released on November 5th 1971 when all promotion was stopped because producer Roger Easterby, who was in charge of their productions with Des Champ for their whole career, was given a copy of Giorgio Moroder's version of a song called "Son Of My Father." Giorgio was a German singer-producer who had written the music to the song and his partner Pete Bellotte wrote English lyrics to it. It was a German hit record by Michael Holm (who wrote the German lyrics for the song called "Nachts Scheint Die Sonne." Easterby was a record plugger at the time and decided that he wanted his band to record the song and get it out as a single before Giorgio's version got up a head of steam.
Back then anyone could cover a song as long as it had already been played on the radio in the UK, so he took it along to his local station, got it played, and then set to work getting Chicory Tip in the studio to record it…”
I repeat “Back then anyone could cover a song as long as it had already been played on the radio in the UK”. Bloody handy then for someone who owns his own radio station, chain of record stores and his own cover version record label! This may well represent a more commercially viable model for Radio Caroline.
Ronan O’Rahilly seems to be somewhat of a Walter Mitty character; he owned, or didn’t depending what you are reading, the Scene club in Ham Yard in London and claims to have managed The Beatles for a week. True or not he was employed for a while by Apple Records and was involved in some way in John and Yoko’s Two Virgins movie.
Which is why, in 1970, John and Yoko found themselves on the newly launched ‘The Simon Dee Show’ on LWT (London Weekend Television). Dee, you see, was managed by O’Rahilly, as was Dee’s other guest that day, the new James Bond, George Lazenby.
Nothing, it appears, is truly organic in show business; play a record on the radio – it’s yours to cover, launch a new TV chat show - get your agent to fill it with his other clients and, at the same time, promote a film your agent has a vested interest in! Happy days.
Now, in those far off days of Black and White shows went out live and unedited and, by all accounts, without a taped copy for future generations to enjoy, however, it appears, the shaken but not stirred Bond was off his tits on LSD or Marijuana – or both – and launched into a rant concerning his theories over who shot JFK. Indeed he went so far as to name still-living, then anyway, high-profile US public figures live on TV.
Unsurprisingly, the shit hit the proverbial fan. Dee, who had history with JFK having apparently tried to obtain the Zapruder film for airing on his show, was sacked unceremoniously. He was a pariah who had to take a job driving buses before being imprisoned for non-payment of his council rates. Dee complained in 1974 that he couldn’t get work because; “It was perfectly obvious that the CIA, who controlled our media and still do, would be on my case.”
Meanwhile, O’Rahilly convinced Lazenby that James Bond was finished and that he should tell Cubby Broccoli where to shove his Walther PPK!
O’Rahilly would go on to launch a manufactured band called the Loving Awareness Band (previously a psychedelic outfit called Skip Bifferty) and claimed they would be as big as The Beatles. Initially, he claimed, the band were to be called The Beatles. The original Loving Awareness concept came from Richard Alpert who was a long-time associate of LSD guru Timothy Leary.
The Loving Awareness Band ditched O’Rahilly in 1977 and became the Blockheads who, with singer Ian Dury, went on to great success and became the in-house band for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who, coincidentally, were produced by Trevor Horn, who had worked on the Pickwick Records covers compilation series; ‘Top of the Pops’.
On reflection O’Rahilly seems to have been a shill for the promotion of the CIA backed hippy explosion which lead, in turn, to the bland AOR formula we all suffer today. This seems to have been the major motivator behind Radio Caroline; to launch bland, soulless music to sell via the outlets you control and to engender the Americanisation of the UK. Oh, and to get a few quid by selling advertising space as well.
O’Rahilly campaigned frequently against the Harold Wilson led Labour party and complained in later life of being monitored by the state. This is hardly surprising; O’Rahilly was in hock to the Establishment who were busy selling their countries assets off to the Yankee dollar. He used his vehicle, Radio Caroline, to electioneer directly for the Conservative Party.
It seems preposterous in the modern world to imagine that a Conservative Government would sit back and allow a ship to drop anchor offshore and broadcast whatever it liked to the masses. This is the same party, lest we forget, that wants the public to forgo any form of online privacy under the so called justification of the ‘war on terror’. However, this is exactly what happened.
Therefore, there must be an ulterior motive. Maybe the CIA did want to broadcast thoughts direct into our earlobes; maybe they wanted to promote their engineered hippy agenda so that we would buy into all their acid-tinged ‘love and peace’ agenda – God knows Ringo Starr still buys into all that bullshit; or maybe they just wanted control full stop. Control of our money, control of our tastes, control of our votes, control of our thoughts, control of our minds.
They don’t use the peace and love angle anymore, they use fear. Fear of anything different, fear of the unknown, fear of those that won’t conform.
Apologies for the lack of any PID or IAAP content, normal service will, I am sure, resume, however, remember this, PID, it's all in the mind, you know!
|Dee and The Beatles|