Radio Man: For those of a certain age the all too brief period of Pirate Radio represents the Golden Age of Music Radio. A cultural sea change had been unfolding since the beginning of the 60’s and Pirate Radio accelerated this momentum for those that were young at that time. We were blessed with many stations in the south east of England, Caroline the most well known, Radio London (Big L) the station of choice.
At Mayfield Boys, circa 1965, we had Radio Man. ‘Radio what?’ I hear you say. Radio Man had a very brief history but reached out to as many as two dozen people. It was of coarse what might now be termed a Fantasy Radio Station. It was spawned in one of Mr. Cutting’s more riveting science lessons. I was sitting next to Martin Mason at the time who was doodling in his rough book between bouts of induced narcolepsy. He was playing around with the letters common to both our names, selected three of them… A N M… and, in a leap of creativity, rearranged them into the word MAN. From that small beginning the concept of Radio Man was born.
We spent the best part of a year constructing puns, plays on words and common insults around the song titles of the day aimed directly at our class mates. On a weekly basis we chose a random selection of them, read out the current offerings and on the basis of the how much of a laugh they got, drew up the Charts. As time went on others began to contribute and eventually we even issued silver and gold disks. The outside of the top of a tin of peas being silver in those days, the inside gold.
Many of the songs titles are too insulting or otherwise politically incorrect to put into print in this self-conscious age. However, by way of example: The Shangri-lars ‘Leader of the Pack’ morphed into Ron Peters ‘Keen Cyclist’. The Ronnetts ‘Leader of the Pack’ in turn morphed into Keith Larke and the Birds ‘Leader of the Flock’. Simple, dumb but amusing at the time.
I won’t use his real name but one classmate arrived from primary school with a reputation for questionable personal hygiene. I can honestly say I never noticed this but, as is the way of such things, reputations tend not to go away once established. We did not have a Smith in our class, so I will call him Smith. So we had Smiths Stenchers with the ‘Reek from Barking Creek’. When the Beatles released ‘I Feel Fine’ we offered ‘I Smell Fine’ which later morphed into Robin Sexton and the Seamen ‘I Smell Brine’. And so it went on.
Norman Rhodes and the McAdams, ‘Hit the Road Jock’
Homens Hermits, ‘Mrs Brown I’ve had your lovely daughter’
Norman Brown and the Gilberts, ‘Krrrrrptttt’, you will need to be able to bring the sound effects to mind and to have known Norman make sense of that one.
The Stones later released ‘Don’t Play With Me Cause You’re Playing With Fire’, which inevitably became Keith Larke and the Birds, ‘Don’t Play With Me Cause You’re Playing with a Flier’. Geoff Cory even went as far as to put words to it.
You’re mother was a pigeon
You’re father was a crow
I was born in Saint John’s Wood
Where the sparrows never go
So don’t play with me cause
You’re playing with a flier
I think this went on in this way for three verses or so.
The back story and real inspiration to all this was Graham Ritchie. Graham had a Fantasy Band before Radio Man was born, The Iron Bugs. He imagined himself as the drummer. I remember deliberately cornering Graham one lunch time, with my rough book in hand, posing as a Radio Man reporter seeking the latest news on his band. I actually got him to perform some of the bands music and wrote down the lyrics. I am sure he was making them up as he went along but when I read them over later I was astonished just how good they were. I so wish I still had that rough book and that work of genius. All I can remember now is one track title ‘False Journey, False Drum’. No, I have no idea.
It’s such a great name for a band. If I had the power and influence of Simon Cowell I would create a band called Graham Ritchie and the Iron Bugs and launch it into this new world of celebrity. History deserves it.