The Boat That Rocked the World

On the 29th March 1964, pirate radio station Radio Caroline began broadcasting with the voices of Simon Dee and Chris Moore ringing out over the airwaves. They introduced the world to Radio Caroline with It’s All Over Now by The Rolling Stones.

At the time, the BBC had a monopoly on the UK airwaves and British citizens had only two radio stations to choose from – either the BBC or Radio Luxembourg. ‘Conventional’ radio generally played classical music, and had programmes delivering simple news stories, and children’s shows.

Many were unimpressed with the radio choices, including entrepreneur Ronan O’Rahilly. Ronan owned his own club in Soho and delivered PR assistance to musicians and actors across the UK.

One of Ronan’s clients was the blues and jazz keyboard-player, Georgie Fame. With radio stations uninterested in listening to his music, Ronan formed a new record company so he could deliver them directly to the BBC and Radio Luxembourg. After once again being rejected, Ronan decided he would have to take a different route, and so, inspired by the ships that broadcast music around the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the idea to create a station that avoided in the laws of the land began.

Joined by a group of rock-loving disc jockeys of the era, they took to the sea and broadcasted illicit music 24 hours a day from their ship, ‘Radio Caroline’, named after John F Kennedy’s daughter.

Throughout the years, the pirate ship was hit by countless challenges including seizures, sinkings and changes to its wavelength. Despite everything, the popularity of Radio Caroline continued to grow, subsequently changing the history of radio forever and earning the nickname ‘the boat that rocked the world’.