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The History of DJ, (dee jay or disc jockey), from ballroom and discotheque to the modern clubs of Ibiza and Las Vegas, we spin their remarkable story.
Here we reflect on the arrival of records, 45’s, LP’s and EP’s, the vinyl magic causing the birth of the DJ and, whilst America, Canada and Australia were throwing a radio party in the UK records went head to head with the Musician’s Union.
We will hear from Garry Brown, a former trombone player with the world famous Johnny Dankworth Orchestra who became the mentor for the UK’s first ever club-style disc jockeys at Top Rank Dancing where he presided as Music Director competing with the nation’s other dance circuit Mecca.
Tony Prince became Garry’s pawn in a battle with the MU whilst over at the BBC Light Programme the MU attacked the broadcaster imposing rules and vinyl restrictions which would eventually cause the oceans to rise with Britain’s pirate radio ships.
Needletime restrictions and demands on the BBC and dancehalls to use live musicians was imposed by the MU. Even the mighty British Broadcasting Corporation couldn’t oppose the limitations on how many records they could play each day. Alan Freeman on Sunday afternoon was the vinyl oasis thrust on teenagers across the UK. At night Radio Luxembourg was a godsend in a land of music radio drought.
It took the Irishman Ronan O’Rahilly and his pirate ship Radio Caroline with new breed high sea broadcasters such as Tony Blackburn, Simon Dee, Tony Prince and the Emperor Rosko, to bring European Radio to life.
Soon the British Isles would be surrounded by a fleet of ships, Radio London with Kenny Everett, Ed Stewart, Dave Cash and a set of PAMS jingles that would cascade through the air with Beatles, Kinks and Rolling Stones top 10 hits. Then came Radio Scotland with Richard Park now the most powerful man in radio at Global Radio (Capital, Heart etc) working alongside DJ legend Stuart Henry.
Screaming Lord Sutch set up his Radio Sutch, later to become Radio City, on a fort in the Thames Estuary whilst Paul Burnett and Mark Wesley threw in their lot with Radio 270 off the coast of Scarborough in Yorkshire.
Radio Caroline South (Mi Amigo) sent DJs north on board MV Fredericia dropping anchor off the Isle of Man with DJs Jerry ‘Soopa’ Leighton, Tom Lodge and Roger Gale (now Sir Roger Gale, MP for Thanet). The Royal Ruler Tony Prince would end up here in Ramsey Bay with DJs Bob Stewart, Daffy Don Alan, Mike Ahearn and Dave Lee Travis. They would learn their art from American jocks and DJs from the former British colonies such as Rosko, Graham Spider Webb, Dave Cash, Daffy Don and Tony Windsor.
The sensational 60’s break-through came because of people like Alan Keen, Programme Director of Radio London and the eventual boss at Radio Luxembourg (208).
Tony Prince, the founder of DMC once again gathers the people with the credentials to tell this part of the radio and club DJs story and the extraordinary battle between the music industry who made records and the people who made the music on the records. You really couldn’t make it up!
The BBC’s Head of Radio One, Johnny Beerling was there when the multi-colourful pirates came ashore to launch the BBC’s answer to pirate radio in the spring of 1968 as slowly, but too slowly for people like Kenny Everett, needle-time restrictions were put into history where they belonged.
This episode, produced exclusively for DMCWORLD.TV, exposes the power, misuse and stupidity of some unions. The Musician’s Union in the 50’s and 60’s caused the birth of pirate radio as teenagers took command of the pop starvation they had inherited from the nation’s broadcasting monopoly, the BBC, for which, even to this day, every resident in the UK pays a licence fee.
This is the episode where the wireless becomes the radio, where announcers and broadcasters become disc jockeys and ballrooms become clubs.
We’ll look at the pirate radio incursion in the next episode.