DMC’s Tony Prince Publishes Autobiography With A Twist
Tony Prince, the legendary Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg DJ who went on to found music label and events company DMC, has written an autobiography with a very interesting slant. It is actually a double autobiography that not only tells Tony’s story, but also that of one of his listeners, Jan Sestak, who grew up behind the ‘iron curtain’ in Czechoslovakia and listened to Tony’s broadcasts.
The Royal Ruler & The Railway DJ will be released as a limited edition hardback tomorrow – Thursday the 1st of December – and then as a paperback in spring 2017. It combines two very different life stories with intrinsic links born from a love of music and bound together by Radio Luxembourg and the fight for free radio in Great Britain.
Tony Prince is the president of the Elvis Presley fan club and the man behind the DMC publishing empire. An entrepreneur from the start, he began his career as a singer/guitarist in the early ‘60s before being expelled from the Musician’s Union who tried to stop him playing records in the dancehalls. In 1965 he presented ‘Discs-a-Gogo’, a television show introducing all the hit makers of the day, before landing his first radio DJ job on board the infamous Radio Caroline pirate ship (subject of the movie ‘The Boat That Rocked’). In 1968, after the pirates were made illegal, he joined the hallowed Radio Luxembourg ‘208’, where he remained and partied for the next 16 years. With him were Noel Edmonds, Paul Burnett and David ‘Kid’ Jensen and for many listeners across the UK and Europe the station was the only place to hear the pop and rock music that arrived with the Swinging ‘60’s. In the book Tony narrates the extraordinary tales of his life and the crazy times on Caroline and in Luxembourg. For many, and especially those behind the Iron Curtain, Radio Luxembourg was a musical oasis, a major anti-communist influence that, for some reason, wasn’t blocked by the Communist governments.
Jan Sestak grew up in Czechoslovakia in a time when listening to the radio, or passing on knowledge of the free Western World, was a crime that you paid for with imprisonment and, in severe cases, with your life. The Secret Police could spirit you away from your home, never to be seen again, just for voicing an opinion. He and his family, like many others, lived in fear and paranoia, but Jan had a love, greater than his fears. Hearing the chimes of Big Ben, hailing the start of the BBC’s London Calling show, fueled his passion to learn English. As he grew into a teenager, so that passion became all-consuming when first he heard the ‘Station of the Stars’, Radio Luxembourg. Although he didn’t understand every word the DJs said, or the lyrics of the rock ‘n’ roll songs they played, he and his closest friends who also listened could understand the excitement of things taking place in the West, giving them a sense of hope that life could be far more beautiful than the one they suffered under the Communist flag. In this unique book Jan tells of his love for music and his struggles to build a record collection and become a DJ, which required a license to play in the Eastern Bloc. Hosting illegal parties with a mere handful of black market western pop records, a disused railway station becomes his discotheque. Soon the secretly invited kids from nearby towns would trudge through the snow to hear him play The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The Royal Ruler & The Railway DJ tells Tony and Jan’s very different stories that are intertwined by a passion for music and Radio Luxembourg. They also meet physically when, shortly after the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, Tony became the only Western DJ to perform inside the Iron Curtain which is when the authors met for the first time.