Image from a great (long) post on Adam Curtis’ blog about the history of ‘Think Tanks’ in Britain
Above is an image of Reg Calvert and his wife:
Reg is really the hero of this whole story. He was a bucaneering kind of pop promoter and entrepreneur that emerged in the music business in the 1950s and 60s. He was a working class boy who had gone into the music business in the late 50s as it morphed from rock and roll to pop. He had set up his own school to create new stars in a derelict mansion near Rugby. He called it “The School of Rock n Roll”. Here is a picture of Reg surrounded by his shock troops who were going to assault the charts - one of them was his answer to Elvis Presley - called “Eddie Sex”. Another one was called “Buddy Britten”.
Then Reg found David Sutch - renamed him Screaming Lord Sutch - and created a star. Reg persuaded Sutch to stand as a candidate in the byelection in 1963 that had resulted because of the scandal of the War minister John Profumo - which involved prostitutes and spies, and Sutch became a national figure … He is a strange hybrid of early American garage-band sound crossed with Victorian music hall.
Reg then wanted to set up a pirate radio station, which he did successfully, to the annoyance of Major Oliver Smedley, who was intrinsic in setting up Radio Caroline. What is interesting is that Radio Caroline was believed to be part of the free-spirited phase of the sixties, but the reality wasn’t so:
Radio Caroline was an immediate success. In the media mythology of the 1960s it is seen as part of the rebellious counterculture. In reality it had been deliberately created by the New Right - as a part of their counter-revolution.
The counter revolution was the dissuasion of the Keynes economic ideas and socialist / state intervention and control, and moving towards the ideas of Hayek. More true, though, was that the ideas were re-interpreted to create a power structure that focused on the interests of those in the private sector. Setting up a pirate radio station was really a middle-finger salute to the establishment.
Major Oliver Smedley didn’t like this competition - so he did what all good free-marketeers do. He created a monopoly.
He went to Reg and persuaded him to amalgamate with Radio Caroline - and become part of the pirate network. In return Smedley promised to give Reg a brand new transmitter - which would be much more powerful.
But then things went wrong.
Smedley, with a team, sabotaged the rival station, bringing it to close.
But Reg Calvert was furious. The next evening he drove down from London to Oliver Smedley’s cottage outside a small village in Essex. He got there at about 11pm and started hammering and banging on the door. Major Smedley’s secretary opened the door and Reg burst in.
Smedley then shot Reg Calvert with a shotgun, and Reg died immediately.
This part is just a chapter of the full story Curtis presents, and it is facinating. It includes many pieces of BBC archive material.
Recommended (if you have the time) - link here