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John Grant

John Grant, Colin Curtis, Tony Bowd Rafters

John Grant, one of the UK’s leading black music DJs of the late-‘70s / early-’80s died last month – he was 71. Apart from his family and close friends, his passing went largely unnoticed – his legacy somewhat forgotten. This is because he retired from DJing in 1981, right at what was seemingly the peak of his powers, completely disappearing from sight as he moved to the South coast, as the legend at the time was told, to become a lighthouse keeper, or, in another version, a harbour master (the truth seems to be that he moved to Peacehaven to work for a Hovercraft company).

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Scott Walker

Singer / songwriter / record producer, Scott Walker, real name Noel Scott Engel, died on March 22nd, aged 76. Although born in Ohio, USA in 1943, he became a British citizen in 1970. His unique enigmatic career would span ‘60s Pop through to the Avant-Garde direction of his later recordings. In 2006 a documentary film about Walker, ’30 Century Man’, captured this extraordinary artistic journey.

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The Norwegian Connection: Paul Rae & Nicky Flavell

In the summer of 1978, when I was 18, I went out to Denmark and then onto Norway, plying my trade as an ‘International DJ’, having secured bookings via I.D.E.A. a Copenhagen-based agency specialising in bringing British DJs out to Europe on monthly contracts – of which there were many, Norway seemingly invaded in the process, the English language deemed authentic with the microphone still a DJ essential. Having stopped off in Denmark (via Holland and West Germany) I’d taken the car ferry across to Norway. I wasn’t supposed to head to Skien, the small Norwegian city I ended up in, but after arriving there the police had searched my car on the docks, undoing bits from under the bonnet but not putting them back, which caused problems for someone of my limited ability when it came to the workings of an engine. As a consequence, 50 miles on my car broke down on route to the North of the country, resulting in my agency hastily re-arranged things so I could play somewhere closer to hand while my car was repaired. So, by fate or accident, Skien by default became my destination, initially playing a few times at a venue called Galaxi, whilst I waited to start a one-month residency at a club called Lines (pronounced Lena’s).

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Essential Mix 10th Anniversary

I was at baggage claim in San Francisco airport in November 2008, just about to embark on my first visit to the city, when I received a call from my agent, Matt Johnson, telling me that Huw Owen from the production company Something Else had been in touch requesting an Essential Mix from me for Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1 show. December 13th had originally been suggested as the date of broadcast, but in the end we settled on January 17th, with delivery requested 5 days earlier on the 12th.

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