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).
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