Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Top Six Record Club - "I was there!"

Some while ago, I picked up this badge, which seemed to have some connection to the Top Six EPs of the 1960s - but what, I wondered was the Record Club mentioned? (Read my original post here.)

I knew there was a link to Radio Luxembourg somewhere, since they broadcast a Top Six Record Club show every week, but what the connection was, I couldn't say. Then last week, I heard from James G Brown, who provided some fascinating background to this, and also sent me a copy of a very special EP he has.

First, let's hear the story. James was out and about in Central London one night, and walked past the Pye Studio, near Marble Arch. This is what he recalls:

"Me and my friend passed the Pye Studios building and saw a queue of teenagers like ourselves standing outside, they said they were waiting to go inside to the Top 6 Record Club so we joined the queue. We hadn't a ticket but the security man was a nice old man and let us in.

"Inside it was crowded and they were playing great music. Before they started they asked if anyone wanted to make a request and pick a record to play... I was picked along with three others and was invited up to the control room... we were told that we would be interviewed on stage by their top DJ 'This Boy Don Wardell'. We were informed they were recording two Top 6 Record Club shows for [Radio] Luxembourg.

"I was called out onto the stage and met Don Wardell. He was a lovely man and made me feel at ease, we chatted, with him asking me where I worked, music I liked, etc, etc... At the end of the night before going home Don Wardell called me over and presented me with a Top 6 Club Badge and a Top 6 Record disc that he had signed, it had three songs on each side, this was in 1964 and I have still got that record which I treasure because of the great memory of a great experience."

What a great story - and it tells us plenty about the Record Club. From James's recollections we know that Radio Luxembourg's weekly show was being recorded in advance, at London at Pye's studio, to be broadcast weekly on Wednesday nights. Pye were the firm behind the Top Six EPs, so it all adds up. Pye no doubt sold plenty of their soundalike 7-inch records on the back of that radio slot, long before Top of the Pops LPs started cashing in on a certain TV show.

James mentions the EP he was given that night, signed by Don Wardell - and he has kindly sent in an image. It's EP number 8 in the series, dating it (and presumably the night in question) to around November 1964:

(The songs on the record, incidentally, are: Do Wah Diddy Diddy / Twelve Steps To Love / You Really Got Me / Have I The Right? / I Won't Forget You / Promise You'll Tell Her.)

James also says the Record Club badge he was given by Don Wardell was similar to the one pictured above. Don Wardell, incidentally, was a noted DJ in the 1960s, who spent a lifetime in the music business. He appeared on several radio and TV shows (Juke Box Jury, Thank Your Luck Stars, etc) and is famous too for remastering Elvis Presley's recordings for CD in the 1980s, winning awards for his work. This is a picture of him in his Radio Luxembourg days:

My thanks to James for the story and info, and also for sharing his fantastic EP with us.


  1. I remember the Top Six Club. I think it was recorded in Cumberland Place. I used to go with a gang of mates. I remember Don Wardell and got his autograph. They gave out free tickets to the next recording and free coca cola. We saw Mark Wynter and the Bad Boys, there.

  2. Hello its Don Wardell here living in Palm Springs USA and enjoying the written piece - good memories -my best to all don

    1. Hi Don great memories of meeting you 1964/1965 in Pye Studios London recording Top Six Record Club and receiviing an EP Record of 6 songs signed by you...before i got on stage to be interviewed by you the researcher told me that when you asked me for my Record request the song was 'Everything's alright' by the 'Newbeats'.... then you introduced a brand new group 'Shelly' singing their new Record 'Stairway to a Star' great song....the researcher came over to me and said they had changed my song request and it was 'Hes in Town' by 'The Rockin Berries' they told me not to forget the choice of song....then you introduced 'The Black Aces' Showband and they played their song. Well Don by the time i was called onto the stage to be interviewed by you i had a bit of trouble trying to remember what Group and song i was suppose to say when you asked me for my request.....Anyway Don i crossed my fingers and anything else i had and took a chance and said 'Hes in Town' by the 'Rockin Berries' and by luck it was the right song and started to play... Well Don after all these years i still have that EP you signed for me and i thank you for your Kindness to a young 18 year the way i was working in the Cumberland Hotel just up the road from the Studios, Hope you are keeping well Don and i Thank you for a great memory of Swinging London in the Sixties...By the way the EP Record you signed and presented to me is on this page..

  3. Hi Don. Thanks for taking the time to leave a message. Great to hear from you. Hope you're keeping well in Palm Springs.