How it started

Let's put the period into context...late '70s the world was a whole different place to what it is today here in the UK.. Just 3 TV Channels, only a few independent commercial radio Stations, no internet, mobile phones or the luxuries we take for granted today. The music business was a different place too - hey music was only available on Vinyl and to a minor part pre recorded cassettes. Mainstream radio was dictated to by the major record companies that had the power and resources to promote their product, so it was rare to hear or have hits from non mainstream artists. Sadly Reggae didn't get too much exposure, occasionally the odd hit would surface, soul and funk were more likely to get programmed. Radio exposure of Reggae was extremely limited. Whilst there were a few DJs at Radio 1 that were fans, their personal capability to play the music was curtailed by play lists.

So the way music was consumed was by going to Reggae dances, and certainly buying records in the abundant record stores that existed. By 1979 I was lodging in Latimer Road and still working at Better Badges on Portobello Road. Lepke was still working for Honest Jon’s now relocated in Portobello Road just a couple of doors down from Better Badges. We’d see each other on a regular basis, he got us records and made tapes so the BB office rocked to reggae as well as rock.


Lepke was a regular at Latimer Road as he would drop in as he passed by, it was the age of casual hospitality. He was also the house DJ at the 100 Club on Oxford Street where I hung too each week on Thursdays, it being reggae night. I loved Thursdays as what little money I had left I could spend as knowing the next day pay day. My friend Charlie Wood by this time was also playing in a rocksteady big band he co founded, ‘Nightdoctor’ and if not hanging with Lepke and I, he would also be playing at the 100 Club. It was a care free period, people mixed freely and friendships were formed.


Joly who I worked for at Better Badges bought a radio transmitter, said transmitter I found under our work bench one morning, with a massive tangle of Ariel cable. He used it to transmit from the upper floor to the basement when he was working down there. I left Better Badges just as Lepke left Honest Jon’s, he passed by and told me he had been given the radio transmitter by Joly and to be honest didn’t think too much about it until a couple of weeks later he told me he had it set up in his garden and was going to transmit on Sundays. So got a phone call asking if I was tuned in, I had actually forgotten to try plus didn’t have a radio. Charlie got his music centre that had a built in radio tunied in and ….’Rebel Radio’ was born .Written by Michael 'Mike da Bike' Williams.

Read More