The 1960’s are often synonymous with rock & roll music, as some of the best of the genre debuted at that time. And while The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were igniting the craze in the United States, their home country of Britain refused to play the music that was deemed as unruly and rebellious.
But of course, anything that is called rebellious has to have rebels leading the charge. And in this case, these rebels came in the forms of other things that rocked and rolled.
Enter in the pirate radios of the 60’s.
As the NPR article states, these ships maintained stasis in international waters, outside British legislature. They could reach over 20 million people, mainly sourcing from the American Top 40. There were many ships, such as Radio Atlanta, Radio Invicta, and the most famous of them all, Radio Caroline. Radio Caroline inspired the movie “Pirate Radio,” which depicts the shenanigans that would take place both around and because of the ship.
Pirate radios would not last, however. As the article relates, in 1967 the British government made it a crime to supply music, commentary, fuel, food and water — and, most significantly, advertising — to any unlicensed offshore broadcaster. This caused many ships to cease broadcasting and return home.
Thankfully, this art crime had taken to the hearts of the people who listened, and in one month’s time, the BBC debuted its first pop radio station. Many of the radio DJ’s found homes at the BBC, working to continue the spread of rock & roll for years to come.