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Looking Back On Luxembourg

In his own words David Jensen looks back on his formative DJ years at the near mythical Radio Luxembourg

It was November 1968 and at the age of 18, I had landed my dream job.

When I arrived in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, I was so excited that I hadn’t given myself any time to be home sick. It had been my intention to come to the UK initially to spend a gap year from my studies in a town called Kelowna in the province of British Columbia. I had been working part time for a radio station there doing everything from classical music on their FM channel (I was a trumpet player in a symphony orchestra) to rock and pop on their AM service. The name, Radio Luxembourg, even from so far away was a legendary name in the world of radio. At the time, it was in fact the biggest and most successful radio station on the planet.

A chance meeting with a DJ who came to work on the same station, CKOV, had been a pirate DJ on Radio Caroline and Steve Young filled my head with stories of fame and fortune on pop radio in Britain. Even though I knew my Beethoven from my Brahms, I really preferred the young sound of England that had taken us all by storm. London was the epicentre of everything that mattered to me and so I decided to send the powers that be at Radio Luxembourg’s London office a 10 minute air-check just see what might happen.

When I got a telegram back to say that a job was waiting for me if I could fly over in 3 days, I thought I would explode with excitement. I duly sold my only possessions, my motorcycle and my trumpet, waved goodbye to my family and off I flew into an adventure that would change my life.

I acquired the nickname "Kid" from my fellow broadcaster, Paul Burnett, who decided that as I was the youngest DJ in Europe at the time, I should play on the fact. Actually I was so young that the officials in Luxembourg had to ask for written permission from my mother to enable me to work legally in the Grand Duchy.

The best part of the job for me as a dedicated music lover was to be given the late shift (midnight to 3) in order to host a show in which I could not only pick and choose the music I would play but also the guests I would interview. This turned into Jensen’s Dimensions and gave me the chance to indulge myself in a manner which is seldom available on radio anymore, with the notable exception of Planet Rock of course!

The format then was known at Underground radio and had its roots in the counter culture of San Francisco. I was also trusted to book acts at local venues, for live or recorded broadcasts and among the bands that graced the stage at The Blow Up or the RTL Concert Hall were, at the time, brand newcomers like Thin Lizzy, Queen, Canned Heat, Uriah Heep, Coliseum, Status Quo, Quatermass, Wishbone Ash, Focus, Chicken Shack and Budgie to name but a few along with establish acts like Deep Purple, the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys.

Through my time at Luxy I have some very special memories like the time that Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, told me that Jimi used to be a regular listener to my show. Bill Wyman told me the Stones used to listen and Van Morrison’s first wife, Janet Planet wrote me a letter to tell me that she and Van were listening to me as I played Astral Weeks in its entirety. Jim Morrison told me that he knew all about Radio Luxembourg and Joe Walsh told me that he used to tune into my show on short wave radio in Cleveland, Ohio.
Good job that I didn’t know about some of my famous listeners at the time as I would have been too nervous to go on air!

I have some fantastic images of some unforgettable guests who would often fly over or just drop in for a chat and an opportunity to play or two of their latest recordings.

As well as all the performers I’ve mentioned, some of these stars included:

Bryan Ferry
Elton John
David Bowie
Steely Dan
Jethro Tull
Ronnie Wood
Ronnie Lane
Van der Graf Generator
Climax Chicago Blues Band
Joe Walsh
Savoy Brown
Captain Beefheart
Stone the Crows
Spooky Tooth
Humble Pie
Terry Reid
and many, many more......

And the name dropping doesn’t end there, as I had the honour of being asked to compere concerts or festivals with the likes of: Pink Floyd, the Faces, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Little Feat, ELP, Gary Moore, and another excellent guitarist, Rory Gallagher. In ’72 I was even invited to be go on a six day tour of the States with the Stones as a guest on their private plane and also had access on-stage as they played!!

Perhaps there might be a book in this somewhere...

I had 7 of the most enjoyable years ever at Luxy and though I had accomplished everything and more that I possibly could have hoped for during my time there, I don’t mind admitting to shedding a tear in the spring of '75 when I bid farewell to a brilliant adventure...

- Kid