Hollywood Documentary to Showcase Pirate Radio Deejay Tom Lodge (1936-2012)

Tom Lodge, April 16, 1936 – March 25, 2012 

[Photos of Tom Lodge courtesy of Tom Maguire.  Photo of Chris Peterson courtesy of my brother Stu Peterson.]

As mentioned in my March 19, 2012 (updated March 25, 2012) post, entitled My Mother Jay Peterson (1920-1976), My Brother Chris Peterson (1954-2009), Tom Lodge and “The Ship That Rocked the World,” my mother and brother Chris got to know former Radio Caroline head program director/top deejay Tom Lodge after he moved to St. Thomas, Ontario in 1968.

Tom Lodge on the Radio Caroline deck, ca. 1964-1967

After founding and then directing the Creative Electronics (later the Music Industry Arts) course at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario for nine years, Lodge traveled to India to pursue his interest in Zen.  He was a disciple of a series of Zen Masters, and spent many years meditating.  On January 10, 1999, he experienced what mystics call the “Enlightenment,” and, as a result, his name was changed to “Umi,” which is Japanese for “the Sea.”  A community, or Sangha, formed around him called Stillpoint.  At Stillpoint (located near Santa Cruz, California), he gave daily Satsangs, and played the clarinet and lap steel guitar.

Tom Lodge, ca. 2009

Unfortunately, around May 2011, Lodge was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He decided to get treatment from the naturopathic Budwig Center in Spain.  The treatments helped, but were expensive.  Jacqui Tracy (Willow), a graduate of Lodge’s Fanshawe program, (1978-1979), visited him in California in May 2011, and decided to help him raise money for his treatment.

On October 16, 2011, two fundraisers were held–one in Austria (organized by Lodge’s son Lionel), and the other at the London (Ontario) Music Club.  The latter event was arranged by Lodge’s and Chris’s friend, Tom Maguire, as well as Tracy.  Maguire read out a statement from Lodge at the London benefit, in which Lodge said (in part):

The question I keep asking myself is how can I totally express my gratitude.  First of all when I first came to this area in 1968 with the evening deejay job on radio CHLO and I had such a warm welcome from so many people when all that I was doing was playing the music I loved.

Then the enthusiastic support I got from London’s high school students when Chris Peterson’s mother, Jay, invited me to put together the Creative Arts Festival at the Western Fair in 1970.

It really means a lot to me that Lodge remembered my mother’s and Chris’s support for him.

The London Music Club benefit was an open mic event that included performances by Lodge’s sons, Tom Jr. and Brodie.  I attended and enjoyed it very much.  Dennis Siren captured the fundraiser on video; it includes Maguire reading Lodge’s statement.  You can find the video on youtube.com under Lodge Fundraiser 2011.mov.

Despite the cloud of cancer hanging over his life, Lodge’s silver lining arrived in early October 2011, when he “signed on” with Speakeasy Films out of Hollywood.  This film company is working on a feature-length film, called The Ship That Rocked (the same title as the 2003 and 2010 editions of Lodge’s book).  Speakeasy bought the rights to Lodge’s book.  The producers are planning to include many of the original tunes by the musicians who first got their airtime on Radio Caroline.  They also interviewed Lodge at his home in California, ca. March 10-12, 2012.  Then the film crew were off to England to “interview the rock stars, the deejays and all those who were involved with Radio Caroline.”  The doc is supposed to be released in May 2012.

Lodge announced on his blog, on March 12, 2012, that he had “less than a month to live.”  On March 25, 2012, he passed away peacefully, with his wife Delphi at his side.  I was very sad when I learned he would not be around to see his documentary on the big screen.  But he left this world, knowing that Cashbox Magazine (which published an interview with him on October 9, 2009, and which also published a tribute to him as its cover story on March 23, 2012), plans to give out “The Tom Lodge Legacy Award” for the first time in 2013.  This annual award will include a monetary component.  Tom Lodge’s family will be helping to choose the first recipient of this award.

Chris did not live to see the increased recognition that has come Lodge’s way in the past year or so.  He died on September 25, 2009, and the 2010 edition of Lodge’s book, which is dedicated to Chris, was published almost a year later.  But Lodge’s and Chris’s legacies will be celebrated together in the main hallway of “D” Block at Fanshawe College.  There are plans afoot to put up a “Tom Lodge Studio” name-placard above one of the three Music Industry Arts recording studios.  There are also plans to put a poster, that Chris prepared of Lodge’s history in broadcasting, in a glass-front display case in close proximity to that studio.

James Reaney, a London Free Press entertainment columnist, has written about Lodge and Chris quite a few times over the years, either in one of his columns or on his blog.  In his January 21, 2011 column that showcased the 2010 release of The Ship That Rocked, Reaney noted that this edition was dedicated to Chris, and that Chris “believed in Lodge and his story for decades, and worked on the project tirelessly.  Late in his life, he was pulling in support for Lodge’s ship of rock.  Chris knew it was a terrific read and would eventually get out there.  Chris was right.”

Chris Peterson in motion, ca. 1970s

And Lodge was right in recognizing that his life had been an adventure.  In his March 9, 2012 blog post, he said:

Dear Friends, Some of you know I have cancer.  This is an amazing adventure.  I have done so much in this life.  Cowboy, arctic ice fisherman, author, gold miner, broadcaster, radio correspondent, deejay, festival organizer, drop in center manager, teaching the exploration between creativity and technology, professor, seeker, real estate salesman, pilot, author again and Zen master.  I am full, I am content.  What a gift.  Thank you.

Tom Lodge, ca. 1964-1967

Graham, Sandy.  “Tom Lodge: the Man Who Rocked the World.”  March 23, 2012.  Cashbox Magazine.  <http://cashboxcanada.ca/>

Hahn, Chris and Kathy.  “Tom Lodge and Radio Caroline.”  October 9, 2009.  Cashbox Magazine.  <http://cashboxcanada.ca/tom-lodge-and-radio-caroline>.

Lodge, Tom.  “Stillpoint Zen Community-Blog.”  March 9 and 12, 2012.  <http://www.umiji.org/blog>.

____.   The Ship That Rocked the World: How Radio Caroline Defied the Establishment, Launched the British Invasion, and Made the Planet Safe for Rock and Roll.  Savage: Bartleby, 2010.

____.  The Ship That Rocked the World: the Radio Caroline Story.  Santa Cruz: Umi Foundation, 2003.

Peterson, Stu.  “Christopher Peterson (1954-2009).”  <http://christopherpeterson.wikispaces.com>.  Link for this site has expired.

Reaney, James.  “Peggy McKillop & Tom Lodge, RIP.”  March 27, 2012.  James’ Brand New Blog.  <http://blogs.canoe.ca/brandnewblog/general/peggy-mckillop-tom-lodge-rip/>  

____.  “Pirate DJ rode the waves.”  January 21, 2012.  London Free Press.  <http://www.lfpress.com/entertainment/columnists/james_reaney/2011/01/20/16959986.html>

____.  “Pirate radio DJ ‘leaves wake.'”  March 27, 2012.  London Free Press.  <http://www.lfpress.com/entertainment/2012/03/26/19550621.html>