Where are they now? Radio Veronica and Dutch Rock Bands of the 1970s

Written by Paxton Quigley

Friday, 10 May 2019

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"Shiver me timbers.." Captain Jack wasn't with Veronica

It introduced many a teenager cramming for his "O" Levels to the weird and wonderful era of Dutch rock, including Super Sister with their peaceful breathy vocals about being naked with a girlfriend interspersed with bursts of satanic death metal and devilish utterings in We were naked. Top draw was Focus who even made it onto Oprah Winfrey's show with Hocus Pocus featuring Thijs van Leer as vocalist, keyboardist and flautist, complete with yodelling.

What the Focus?

Radio Veronica was a Dutch pirate radio station that began broadcasting in 1960 from offshore for over fourteen years and it became the most popular station in the Netherlands. Veronica broadcast from a former lightship anchored off the Dutch coast and the Dutch government left Veronica alone because of its popularity.

During 1965 the station was influenced by English pirates like Radio London but British competition was short-lived because of the British Marine Offences Act which closed most of the stations by August 1967.

A powerful rival caused repercussions for Veronica. Radio Nordsee International (RNI) initially broadcast German and English programmes from the Mebo II, equipped with a 100 kW AM transmitter and Radio Veronica's management was sufficiently worried about loss of advertising revenue that they planned to put RNI off the air.

On the night of 15 May 1971 three men in a rubber dinghy started a fire on Mebo II forcing RNI to broadcast mayday calls. All on board were rescued and RNI was back on the air the following morning. Shortly afterwards, two of Veronica's directors were arrested. They were tried and found guilty along with the crew of the dinghy and all five were sentenced to a year in prison. The damage to Veronica's reputation was incalculable and the RNI fire motivated the Dutch government to draw up plans for anti-pirate legislation.

Despite pro-Veronica campaigning, the Dutch government passed its anti-pirate legislation and Veronica closed down at 6 pm on 31 August 1974. In his final speech DJ Rob Out said "Part of the democracy in the Netherlands is dying with the closure of Radio Veronica and that is a tragedy for the country."

Those were the days...

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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