Memories of Radio Caroline
We teenagers in Northern Ireland in the sixties witnessed a revolutionary swing from boring popular music broadcast by the BBC, to the new sound of Pirate Radio.
Radio Caroline came into being in the sixties when Mods and Rockers were in vogue.
Mods (short for Moderns) used to ride scooters such as Vespas and Lambrettas. These had two stroke engines and were invariably kitted out with long silk streamers, radio aerials with flags on top, and painted lavish colors such as pink. The Mods themselves wore stylish suits under long anoraks. They regarded any rocker as a deadly enemy.
Rockers were named after the rocker arms on a four-stroke motor bike engine (two stroke scooter engines didn’t have rockers), wore leather gear, and considered themselves to be cool dudes.
Both Mods and Rockers were massive fans of Radio Caroline which blasted from the new transistor radios and from the cafés they frequented.
I suppose I could have been classed as a Rocker, although in all fairness, we had little enmity with the boys on scooters, in my neck of the woods anyway.
I had a 650cc AJS which would just about hit 100mph, in a following wind and me lying flat on the tank. I hung out at a local biker’s café drinking foaming coffee from glass/Pyrex cups whilst listening to the beat of Caroline. Mods and Rockers were part of growing up with Radio Caroline, they had a lot of bad press about rival gangs fighting, but this was usually exaggerated by the press. They eventually faded out to make room for the skinheads and hippies of the late sixties.
My wife grew up in Irvine in Scotland and her recollections are similar to mine. She remembers some dancehalls broadcasting Radio Caroline before the live bands came onto the stage. Her Dad bought her a brand new Lambretta scooter and a leopard skin crash helmet, but wouldn’t let het put any "mod" gear on the scooter.
Ask anyone, man or women who was a teenager in the sixties what they remember most and they will invariably reply – Radio Caroline.