PART FOUR: From damp to hip.


This page contains an extract from Tom Lodge's book about Radio Caroline. It is completely revised and expanded from the earlier versions, is in a hard cover and contains more photos from Tom's time with the station, with more tales of life aboard, more insights into the music and more stories of the musicians who made the sixties such a special era. The new book is entitled The Ship that Rocked the World: How Radio Caroline Defied the Establishment, Launched the British Invasion and Made the Planet Safe for Rock and Roll and is available from The Radio Caroline Society, Amazon and good book shops.
 
This extract is taken from chapter two, From Damp To Hip:

Ronan O'Rahilly and Allan Crawford, originally the bosses of rival stations Caroline and Atlanta, they joined forces to form a national network.

     Anchored three and a half miles off Felixstowe with our 168 foot mast, we gained immediate attention from both passing ships and people on shore. Yes, we were strange. We were a new mark on the ocean horizon. The tall mast had an appearance of grandeur, it was a visual statement, but more so, it was a huge audio statement. We were definitely here. Our music blasted through the barricades of the British establishment's music censorship - we were about freedom. At this time there was still concern about rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll seemed to encourage a freedom that was unpredictable, from Elvis' undulating hips to the sexual implications of the beat. Until that Easter Sunday in 1964 when we went on the air, Britain had only thirty minutes of pop music a week from the BBC Light Programme and also an evening of ‘static-filled’ music broadcasting from Radio Luxembourg, a radio station that played only a one minute taste of each record because it was sponsored by the record companies.
 
     Around this time, the transistor radio's price had dropped to a point that many teenagers could afford one. This was a major breakthrough. Cheap transistor radios made it possible for our fans to listen to rock 'n' roll anywhere they wanted - outside their homes and under their bedcovers. I received many letters telling me that they were listening to us secretly, hidden from their parents.
 
     Without the transistor Radio Caroline might not have happened. Listening on the larger home radios would invite parents' scrutiny, and since many parents didn't approve of the ‘noise’ we were playing, the number of listeners we had would have been greatly curtailed. Unlike America, car radios were quite rare and not in demand. Many people relied on public transportation or rode bicycles. Some teenagers began to use scooters, which became the hallmark of the Mods. But Britain had not adopted the American's love of the car. Americans listened to music and made love in their cars while the British were much more under the thumb of the Establishment.
 
     To me Britain was gray, damp and self-conscious, a place where right behavior and good manners was more important than having fun. This way of life was ingrained into Brits' proper faces and their solid brick and stone houses. Having just arrived from Canada and America, I was very conscious of the contrast. I was also aware of the pressure of youthful energy trying to burst forth. Radio Caroline was determined to free this energy and yet, we were just a bunch of young guys playing music and having fun. Ronan was only twenty-four, and some of us were younger. I was the oldest at 27 and brought with me the experience of the American pop radio sound and the American deejay's lively approach. I was not part of the radio sound that was familiar to the British ears, the respectable BBC. We were the sword of Excalibur slicing into centuries of conservative conditioning.



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