CAPITAL RADIO - The First Mad Year!
Part II - KENNY and CASH
When Kenny Everett joined Capital, in October 1973, I think I'm being fair in saying that was a really big boost for the station. Kenny had made his name originally on the "Pirate" stations:
. . ."They further requested that he become a presenter on the Light Programme, introducing 'sweet' music such as the Northern Dance Orchestra, but Kenny declined. Instead, he approached Radio London in 1964 who took him 'on board'. His madcap broadcasts for pirate Radio London won him a large following, however he was fired because he voiced his opinion on-air about a Radio London religious programme, but was taken back six months later."
see Radiorewind and Everett Web
After his pirate days Kenny worked for the BBC, where he was one of the founder presenters of "Radio One", until 1970 when he was fired for suggesting that Mary Peyton, the then transport minister's wife, had bribed her way through her driving test.
While on Radio London, Kenny and another of the pirate jocks, Dave Cash, had got together and done "The Kenny and Cash Show" which had been very popular. Dave Cash also joined Capital in 1973 as Production Manager and Presenter.
Kenny Everett at Capital Radio, 1973. Photo (c) Clive Warner.
At first Kenny and Dave did a reprise of what they'd done on London, the Kenny and Cash breakast show. It went down great.
I was present during quite a lot of these Kenny and Cash shows, usually it would be the end of a very long night running MCR (Master Control Room) and doing any odd jobs needed by the presenters, like fixing a mike or patching the reverb chamber into a desk. (In radio station jargon, a 'desk' means a mixing desk.)
The main thing that was noticeable about the Kenny and Cash show was that really, it was the Kenny on speed and Cash on normal show. I can't recall exactly what time it started but let's say for the sake of argument that it was from 7 AM - 9 AM.
Kenny would arrive toting a big rotatable box full of 'carts' - radio jargon for tape loops enclosed in plastic cartridges, thus the 'carts' name. These carts ran in cart machines, basically a very much more sophisticated version of the 8-track carts used as audio players in cars before Philips invented the audio cassette. Each cart ran for a predetermined time from 15 seconds to 4 minutes or more. Kenny was an inventive genius and continually churned out new and exciting gimmicks to use on his show, whereas Dave was more of the 'nice guy with a good voice' kind of presenter.
Kenny was very much 'hands on' and lugged his stack of carts into the tiny dj studio, where he'd cram a selection into the multiple-slot cart machines. Maybe he'd have 9 carts loaded and ready to go. There'd maybe be a cart with applause, another with a scream, another with some weird stuff from Monty Python's Flying Circus, whatever caught his ear. Plus jingles he'd create himself; Kenny was versatile.
So there they were sitting side by side in the tiny studio as the clock came onto the hour, and I ran the adverts, linked to the news presenter, out to the ads again, played the intro to the Kenny and Cash show, and Kenny came out of the starting gate like someone lit gunpowder under his arse, leaving Dave Cash wondering how the show had already been going for a while without him. Kenny basically would be at 500 mph while Dave was still obeying the 30 limit.
Even as jaded as I was, as the weeks went by I began to see changes in Dave Cash. Bags developed under his eyes. He seemed to lack concentration. Finally, the inevitable happened and Kenny arrived one morning by himself to run the show single handed, and it became the Kenny Everett Breakfast Show.
After Dave's departure Kenny sped up even more, as if the handbrake had been removed, and it became - for me at any rate - practically impossible to keep up with him.
What I didn't realise for a while, was that hardly anyone would have been able to keep up, let alone a poor bloody engineer who had just been up all night making sure the station didn't fall off the air. One day one of the other jocks took me to one side and murmured to me that Kenny used to take speed before coming in to do his show, and then after it, drive back to his Welsh farmhouse and drop a load of downers to counteract the speed and allow him to sleep. Before he left the station, Kenny usually went into the production studio with an armful of blank carts and worked like a maniac for an hour, then left with an armful of jingles and special carts to use in future shows.
Kenny was game to try most things at least once. Once, I had been watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, remember it was exceedingly popular at that time, and connected a tape machine to the TV to record any amusing sound bites (although the term 'sound bite', I should add, had not at that time been invented).
I had recorded this short sketch involving a Welsh funeral parlour. It was in extremely bad taste. I recall it had dialogue like "we'll have the stiff out of the 'ouse and into our van in . . . " Anyway I put it on a cart and gave it to Kenny. He hadn't seen the sketch but thought the audio was extremely funny and played it on air going into a commercial break.
Later on hellfire rained down on us from the IBA who were unamused by the volume of complaints received from listeners. Apparently the opening chimes of the 'advert' from the Python sketch were uncannily similar to those used by London's news station, LBC, and so we were also open to charges of mocking our opposition.
Another time I found a large balloon filled with helium that had been left over from some party and gave it to Kenny, who then gave several links in the silly squeaking voice that you get if you breathe helium.
Kenny went on from radio to have his own hit TV show and was active in radio until 1993. One of the 'candles in the wind', he died of AIDS in 1995 at the age of 50.
Roger Piper's Web site gives lots of interesting technical info on the early days, including the radio cars, RF links, and so forth.