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Petra Janda

Petra Janda

singer and musician

„Let them have more rock´n´roll and it will break down itself

What did mean Radio Luxembourg for you?

Radio Luxembourg was our iconic station while growing up. It substituted what our official culture denied to us. At that time, our radios played Karel Vlach and swing singers. They played this boring, late swing music. And Radio Luxembourg  played different, modern music influenced by the coming rock´n´roll. My whole generation listened to Radio Luxembourg on a daily basis and talked about what was played  and when and some even took notes in their notebooks.

Which period are you talking about?

I was around 15, so it must have been in around ´57 to ´59, we still listened for sure to Luxembourg in ´60. I was such an enthousiastic listener that I even neglected school. Mostly, we listened in the evenings, I think the station did not emit during the day or simply we did not switch it on. As we had a living room just next to the bedroom, I wiretaped my headphones on a long cable to the radio and so I could listen to it in bed. I attached a cord to the radio plug and when I wanted to sleep, I did not want to get up to switch the radio off, so I just pulled and so unplugged the radio, layed the headphones down and slept.

What impact had Radio Luxembourg on you in that time?

Radio Luxembourg had a great impact also because it was a ressource of our repertoire. Perhaps, the music band Sputnik I played with at the end of ´50, had actually drawed from Radio Luxembourg´s rock´n´roll inheritance. So, we arranged among three boys from the band to download the text of the song Tutti Frutti. One guy was in charge of downloading of the first verse, another one was in charge of the second verse, the third one should had do the refrain. We were ready and waiting for it to be played on the radio. When they played it, we sprang to attention and tried to write down what we heard. We managed to put the text tolerably together after three, four attemps. I remember that Pavel Bobek proceeded this way to download the text of the Memphis Tennessee song. After he had recorded the song, he got the original version into his hands and got so upset not to have had recorded it more precisely. There is no surprise for downloading of songs this way!

What was the placement of Radio Luxembourg among other stations?

Radio Luxembourg was the number one. I don´t actually know why Radio Luxembourg was so famous, but there was too much talking on the other stations and it was actually boring.

On which radio did you listen to Radio Luxembourg?

It was on a Telefunken radio. We had a big and beautiful Telefunken radio, my dad bought it probably  just closely before the war, when my parents were getting married. So it was a kind of family equipment. It played very nicely.

What kind of music did you listen to on Radio Luxembourg? Was it especially rock´n´roll?

I was a violonist. I played violin classical music and I liked rock´n´roll very much. It hit me, I loved it. It was suddenly so different, revolutionary, unchained, the emotions went out, I liked it very much. I heard Elvis and Haley for the first time, and later all the rock´n´roll stars, all on Radio Luxembourg. But they did not play the sharper singers like Chuck Berry or Little Richard. They played kind of moderate ones like Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone or from the British, they of course played Cliff Richard. He played the song Living Doll – Panenka that I liked very much, that I took over, played and sang in English right from the text downloaded from Radio Luxembourg. Simply different music, totally different then for  us.

Did Radio Luxembourg affect you in some way?

I would say it influenced essentially our whole generation not only through the music, but even I think it started admiration towards USA that was at that time very dishonoured. We liked both music –British and American. We just considered English as an absolutely natural language for rock´n´roll and Russian simply did not fit in it.

Did you share listening to Radio Luxembourg with your friends?

Yes of course, as I´m saying, it was an affaire of the whole generation. Our parents of course did not listen to it, they did not like it. They were still  „made of different material“ , they were surprised what we kind of liked, but I don´t remember that my classmates from the grammar school or those, that I played with, did not know Radio Luxembourg. We all listened to Radio Luxembourg, all, definitely all.

Did you listen to the Radio Luxembourg regularly?

Sure. Every night if I had time. I have even made a scale line on the radio, because my parents listened to another station and always retuned it.

For conclusion, try to express what  „Radio Luxembourg“ refers to?

It refers to the most beautiful age of a teenager – revolutionary. This is about the most intense feeling of being alive when you are an adolescent. A person starts to make his/her way, looks for a place under the sun, looks for his/her own culture, music, philosophical opinion of the world, of life and of course he/she finds him/herself in a certain dispute with parents, he/she tries to break myths down and tries to take his/her own way. And in these conflict the essential opinions of life come out. Let´s say, Radio Luxembourg was one of the carriers of the rebellion and of all what I said. The repulsiveness towards the regime that held us expressly ignorant and did not give us what we wanted. I would say - the regime played to us Russian chastushka´s and no rock´n´roll. And this was essential, there were the origins of the intention to make the final countdown to the Bolsheviks one day. Thank god, it happened.

In the end of ´80, President Ronald Reagan said an amazing sentence: „Let them have more rock´n´roll and it will break down itself.“






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