BBC Radio One – Emperor Rosko -September 27, 1969 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Okay. You’ve been planning this since your brother’s girlfriend came back from Europe, armed with a copy of the first Pink Floyd album. That was two years ago. The album blew your mind. The stories got you excited. You had to go exploring. You promised yourself you’d go to Europe the day after you graduated High School. You heard stories and some of your friends were thinking about doing the same thing. So you made a plan – you’d get jobs, save and get the cheapest flight, land in London and go from there.
So you spent the next two years bagging groceries at Daylight Market on La Cienega. During that time your brother broke up with said girlfriend, but she was only a grade ahead of you in school, so you all hung out behind the cafeteria, smoked cigarettes and she’d talk about going to Morocco, hanging out in Paris, landing smack in the middle of the big Strike, hitching to Amsterdam and discovering Hashish. She did make a point of letting you know the women were gorgeous.
Now your mind was racing. Graduation wasn’t coming soon enough. Two of your buddies signed on and now there were three of you, ready to invade Europe and live an amazing life.
So armed with a duffle bag full of cut-offs, t-shirts, two pairs of flip-flops and a map of London, you were crammed into a BOAC 707 Economy class with your buddies and a row full of chainsmokers, along with a guy who collected airline bottles of scotch. You had a fistful of traveler’s Cheques and if you took all the advice, you’d have enough money to get a Eurail Pass and live reasonably well until it was time to come home.
Two things hit you when you get out of Customs at Heathrow – everything smells like Diesel exhaust and it’s fucking freezing. You forgot to ask about the weather – you assumed, since it was June it would be somewhere in the 90s. It’s in the 90s everywhere else.
No. And it rained – and rained – and rained, and you aren’t prepared for any of it.
Somehow, the European adventure turned into a frozen quest for survival. The BBC announcer would occasionally mention “rain, with periods of sun”, and you thought he was being funny.
You finally manage to make your way to the Youth Hostel in Holland Park and get some gratefully accepted advice about searching out a “Marks and Sparks” to at least get a pair of jeans. After a lot of fumbling around, you find out it’s Marks and Spencer they’re talking about and a good chunk of your budget goes into buying warm clothes and an umbrella.
After that, things calm down and you start settling in. You discover drinking age is 16 and music seems to be everywhere, all the time. Since your impromptu shopping spree you are starting to look more like a native and less like a tourist. The only giveaways are the tan and saying “ya know” at the start of every sentence. Bystanders notice and they laugh to themselves.
After a week you decide London would be a cool city to live in if they only had surf, Malibu and Santa Ana winds.
But they have Emperor Rosko. . .
And here to accompany those fictional London adventures in 1969 is almost an hour of the infamous Emperor Rosko from BBC Radio One on September 27, 1969.
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