Arnold’s Pirate Radio BOOK!

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Banned by the BBC - How I Became a Radio Pirate - Book by Arnold M.D. Levine

Banned by the BBC! answers the “what happened next?” question The Boat that Rocked (Pirate Radio, in USA) posed, and provides a provocative bookend to that tale.

When the pirate radio ships were banned by the British government in 1967, their legacy was continued by clandestine land-based pirates, risking capture at every broadcast to break the BBC’s radio monopoly.

Co-founding notorious Radio Concord in 1971 until 1977, this personal memoir spans the never-before-told inside story of pirate radio, squatting, punk music, social issues, and revolutionary politics I experienced in the demi-monde of London in the 1960s and 70s.

Why was my phone tapped? What made the police, Special Branch, crime reporters, and even the post office pursue me? Free speech, and privacy rights come at a steep price in any age, as we now know in this post-Manning, Assange and Snowden world.

Highlights include squatting the Queen’s Windsor Castle Great Park, scaling Mick Jagger’s House, befriending Joe Strummer, and dancing naked at a Stonehenge Free Festival. Mingle with hippies, judges, intellectuals, politicians, techies, artists and rock stars. For life context, I include experiences at Jimi Hendrix’s disastrous last concert, crashing a Rolling Stones private rehearsal, and a motorbike ride with Bison in the Badlands.

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Banned by the BBC – song by Three Bonzos and a Piano:



Riveting adventure story and important piece of radio history
“Levine does a wonderful job of showing what it was really like to be part of a pirate radio station in London, trying to free the airwaves from the tight control of the BBC. We follow him over rooftops, running from the cops, connecting with similar souls, meeting famous musicians and being on the cutting edge of London culture in the 1960’s and 70’s. His radio shows become more political–as he connects with a cast of characters from all walks of life, always aiming to create a more humane society. In our world of screens right now, this is a riveting, humorous and refreshing read!” – Louise N.

Couldn’t Put It Down!
Levine spins the tales of his pirate radio adventures in a voice, like a DJ, that is both witty and intimately personal. Equal parts historical chronicle, juicy never-been-told stories of the movers-and-shakers of a cultural revolution, and action thriller, this book invites us to tag along through London’s burgeoning underground scene — and beyond — with one of its most adventurous denizens to witness the moments that, altogether, would make an indelible mark on music, radio, and social justice activism for all time. For anyone who has ever turned a radio dial in the UK, this book is a must-read. For me, an American, it was a fascinating view into the British counterculture, which took on a very different flavor than its American analog. Few books manage to be as historically important and so entertaining at the same time. Highly recommend!” – Purple Hazel Green

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Banned by the BBC - How I Became a Radio Pirate - Book by Arnold M.D. Levine
Picture on the cover: Arnold during his pirate radio show in the kitchen of a flat off the Balls Ponds Road in London. Pic from a Melody Maker article.

Banned by the BBC - Pirate Radio, London, 1970s

Banned by the BBC! - How I Became a Pirate - back cover
Main back page pic: Notice of Arnold’s fine for being a radio pirate. 2 handwritten lined pages with lists: Phone log from 4th & 5th April 1975 pirate broadcast. Mimeographed note: Reception report from a listener in then communist East Germany. Radio Dynamite letterhead with list: GPO detector vans and cars vehicle registration numbers for use of lookouts during broadcasts.