Friday, June 18, 2010

Radio First Termer: Pirate Radio, Viet Nam, 1970

Dave Rabbit, underground DJ, Radio First Termer, Viet Nam, 1970.
Entertaining the maggots and first termers.
Dave Rabbit, dressed to kill.
Two Vietnamese whores hiding in a tree.
Dave Rabbit: The voice of First Termers and Hard Acid Rock Music, 1970
Musically, this is a bit off the mark from the usual crap I cover on this blog, but I love this tape so much I just had to share it. I don't remember where I first got this tape, I think it might have been sent to me by a listener of my old WFMU radio show. What it is, is an aircheck of a pirate radio station run by a G.I. who called himself Dave Rabbit and his "compadre" Pete, broadcasting at 69 megacycles out of Saigon, evidently right above a massage parlor, aimed at "maggots, grunts, and first termers here in the republic of Viet Nam", Rabbit's mission statement was to bring "the voice of hard acid-rock music" to the U.S. soldiers who were getting picked off by snipers, stepping on land mines, smoking pot, dropping acid and shooting smack. These are large files (both run over 45 minutes, part one is 43.8 MB, part two is 44.9 MB), and the sound quality is shitty, but it's a real hoot to listen to. In between some truly awful "hard acid rock music" (Sugar Loaf, Bloodrock, Cactus, The James Gang, Cream, etc.) Rabbit reads ads for whore houses, give tips to GI's on R&R ("If you're going to the Carousel Club tonight stay way from the big Korean at the door, he's pushing some bad H, I repeat he's pushing some bad H..."), not to mention news reports from the sultry voiced Nygen (have you ever met a Vietnamese person not named Nygen?), tells the listeners that's the acid is kicking in over the opening notes of the Byrds' Eight Miles High, his all around laconic delivery and spaced out witticisms (often taken off of latrine walls) have to be heard to be believed. Since this tape was probably recorded from a foxhole on a cassette deck and is God knows what generation, you'll have to suffer the sound quality and lame tunes, but believe me it's worth it. Radio First Termer is like no other radio broadcast I've ever heard. Rabbit lived through the war, he even had a website for awhile, which has since disappeared, his latest doings had more to do with the current Iraq and Afghan involvement that his glory days in Nam, but perhaps he will reappear. I sure hope he has more vintage airchecks of Radio First Termer, and in better fidelity, as this 90 minute segment is all I've been able to come up with over the years. If you're interested in the Viet Nam war below are some of my favorite books on the subject. Meanwhile, enjoy Radio First Termer (give part two 10 seconds before it kicks in....):
Essential Reading:
Michael Herr- Dispatches (Knopf, 1970)
Phil Caputo- A Rumor Of War (Holt, Rhinehart & Wilson, 1977)
Gustav Hasford- The Short-Timers *(Harper & Row, 1979)
Gustav Hasford- The Phantom Blooper (Bantam, 1990) (sequel to The Short-Timers)
Dean Ellis Kohler- Rock'n'Roll Soldier (Harper Collins, 2009)
*The Short-Timers was the source material for Kubrick's film Full Metal Jacket (1987).


mwhybark said...

looks like Dave's still around, actually:

Anonymous said...

Wow, fantastic stuff.

"If you're sitting down right not taking a crap, you are probably the only motherfucker in Vietnam who knows exactly what the fuck he's doing."

I wonder if you'd care to elaborate about the books: I don't know any of them and a few words about what's good about each might help me to choose where to start, if you had time some time.

The Hound said...

"I wonder if you'd care to elaborate about the book"

They're all about the Viet Nam war. Dispatches is a masterpiece, almost Joycean flow of consciousness look at things from a photo journalists' point of view. Caputo was an officer who barely knew where Nam was went he was sent there, and gives us the best all around look at the war on the ground. Hasford's first book became Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, and Kubrick follows the plot line pretty straight, Phantom Blooper finds the same character (Joker) re-enlisting for some sort of bloody closure.
R&R Soldier is the memoir of a frat party rocker who unexpectedly finds himself in a muddy foxhole when he really wants to be home singing Wine Wine Wine.

Anonymous said...

I've got the full three hours somewhere ?


Anonymous said...

Herr's book is fantastic,the tragic story of a war as seen through the eyes of an amazingly gifted writer.Some is a Roman a clef', some a retelling of at the time current rumors and legends, other parts taut reportage and tender memoir of those who are gone. He weaves it together in an amazing way that will break your heart. A must read. When you're done you'll know why the Clash wrote a song about Sean Flynn.
Interestingly (at least to me) Herr co-wrote the Full Metal Jacket screenplay for which he shared an Oscar nomination with Hasford and Kubrick. Herr also wrote some of the Willard character's narration for Apocalypse Now.
Great stuff as usual Jim!
Doug NJ

The Hound said...

" you'll know why the Clash wrote a song about Sean Flynn. "

S.F. made the NY Times today:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Jim. Photojournalist Tim Page is one of the many memorable characters in Dispatches. He is widely acknowledged as the inspiration for the manic Dennis Hopper character in Apocalypse. "As soon as Hopper came on the screen, Michael (Herr)" turned to me and said 'You've finally made it to the silver screen'," Page recalls with a chuckle.

Page's memoir, Page after Page is in my stack of stuff to read. Have you read it?


The Hound said...

"Page's memoir, Page after Page is in my stack of stuff to read. Have you read it? "

Not yet, it's been in my pile of "to read" books for a couple of months, I think I'll read it next.

Michael Simmons said...

Fascinating post, Hound, thank you.

As for top shelf books about Nam, I'd recommend Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers.

fred said...

Thanks, what a treat! The sound quality wasn't bad at all. The tape speed on part two even made Robert Plant sound like a dude!

Angel Baby said...

Dave Rabbit: The Next Generation

Record Fiend said...


First of all, fantastic blog you have here. I could spend hours in this place.

Second, some comments regarding Dave Rabbit...

From what I was able to find out, "Nguyen" was actually a female Air Force clerk who worked in an office on the base at which Dave Rabbit was stationed. You can also get MP3 versions of these files directly from Rabbit's podcast site, for which some other commenters have already supplied the URL.

Rabbit himself checked out my blog earlier this month and left some nice comments in reference to a post that is similar to this one on your site. Additionally, another visitor left a comment letting me know that he had recently acquired a reel-to-reel tape on an eBay auction, which is purported to be the best-sounding version of these broadcasts in existence. He was kind enough to include the DivShare URLs (for MP3 rips of these recordings) in his comments for anyone interested in downloading and listening these historic audio documents. To my ears, they do sound better than what has previously been available.

Please feel free to check out this exchange of information over at my place:

Also, two very informative articles about Dave Rabbit:


And last, I've added your site to my list of recommended blogs. I would greatly appreciate a backlink if my blog is of interest to you.




The Hound said...

Record Fiend,

thanks, the links you sent provide a lot of stuff I never heard, and in much better sound quality. Too bad Dave Rabbitt didn't have a better record collection, Bloodrock and Sugar Loaf certainly sound as bad now as I remembered them back when. Still, his banter is priceless, and hearing more of Nygen's voice, I do detect a bit of a Texas accent. The new Iraq war First Termer stuff has its heart in the right place, but it's just not as much fun as the old Viet Nam era recordings.

Richie1250 said...

Thanks heaps for this! I liked him so much I EQ'ed and edited it so each piece of incredible hard acid loaf only goes for 20 seconds or so. More Dave Rabbit, less Sugarloaf!

Download here if ye want...

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