Ray Orchard used to pose that question at the start of the Capitol Show on Radio Luxembourg, and it was a good question followed by a good answer. In popular British parlance, the answer really did describe "what was on the tin", or in this instance, what was on the title of that time slot.
Unfortunately there is a body of printed and recorded work in circulation that consists of answers to questions where the person providing the answer has no direct knowledge of the real answer, so they invent one. A word often used to describe this practice is gossip - which is the palming off to another person, information that has been gleaned from someone else, but whose authenticity regarding the original source is unknown to the person doing the gossiping. In other words, that person has no direct or first-hand knowledge to impart as an answer to the question being asked.
Such is the case of "Jimmy Ross".
Without the story of "Jimmy Ross" there is no story about the origins of Radio Caroline in 1964. Think about it. Think about all of those books and magazine and newspaper articles and all of those radio and television documentaries. How did their authors get away with it?
If "Jimmy Ross" is but the expanded fiction about a man named "Jimmy" whose fictitious surname was "Shaw", then how on earth did "Jimmy Ross" become a fixture in the minds of the average anorak?
"Jimmy" is the name of a person invented as the name for a fictitious father to a character named "Paul Shaw" in a novel by Ian Cowper Ross.
Ian Cowper Ross never claimed that his character was named "Jimmy Shaw". What Ian Cowper Ross did claim in his novel, is that someone (another fictitious character), called "Paul Shaw's father" by the name of "Jimmy", even though the fictitious "Paul Shaw" never claimed that the fictitious father of this make believe person was named "Jimmy". In fact, the inference in the novel is that the fictitious father of the fictitious "Paul Shaw" was not named "Jimmy", and therefore he was not "Jimmy Shaw". The fictitious "Paul Shaw" only called his fictitious father "Daddy".
Now it is true that the surname of "Ross" did crop up in news accounts before Ian Cowper Ross wrote his book, and that by 1967 the actual name of Ian Cowper Ross' father was occasionally referred to as "C.E. Ross", but that is as far as that reporting goes.
No one ever said what this "C.E. Ross" did for a living, that emerged in vague terms later on when others decided to add job descriptions to this man.
The question then is this: Did Ian Cowper Ross' father have any connection to Radio Caroline, and where is the proof of that claim? It cannot be found. What can be found is the family tree of the real Charles Edward Ross that stretches back to New Zealand, and the several addresses that Charles Edward Ross resided at, and the two marriages of Charles Edward Ross; the step-brother of Ian Cowper Ross by the first marriage of Charles Edward Ross, and the growing franchise business in dry-cleaning that began in Scotland that employed Charles Edward Ross, and the merchant bank called Close Brothers that helped to sell shares in that dry-cleaning franchise.
Connections are also drawn from the same novel to two other fictitious characters who are then morphed into real people without any foundational fact.
We have been going over back issues of Offshore Echos Magazine to see what it has to say about this phantom story. The answer is not much, and what it does say is second-hand gossip.
Now if there never was a "Jimmy Ross", then how did the partially well-documented story of 'Radio Atlanta' come to morph into a story about Radio Caroline?
The silence is deafening and the library shelves are empty and gathering dust for want of a published and documented answer.
Radio Caroline "just happened", and then a ramshackle series of events occurred until a new law forbade marine broadcasting without a license, and a tug company towed away the two boats that were the known homes of Radio Caroline North and Radio Caroline South, and briefly as Radio Caroline International.
I guess according to this standard of Q and A, Ray Orchard should have replied to his own question "Well, what do you know?"
Copyright 2021 with all rights reserved.