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).
Tag Archives | Neil Rushton
I’d meant to put this up back in May, 40 years after the record in question was released, but didn’t manage to get around to it. I wanted to highlight my Time Capsule series, which I put together for a series of 21 monthly episodes spanning January 1976 to September 1977. Each month consists of a podcast, nowadays available to stream via Mixcloud, featuring the dance music played by myself and other UK DJs back then. This was accompanied by text, where I talked about the tracks and the artists featured, whilst outlining my early days as a DJ.
In 2009 I wrote an article on the history of mixing in this country called ‘How The Talking Stopped’. It was the most in depth piece I’d ever written, the research alone had taken many months, including a couple of trips to the British Library in London to comb through the copies of Record Mirror they have archived there, for it was within this magazine that the person who I’d certainly argue did more to promote UK DJ culture than any other human being, connected (via his essential weekly dance column) with fellow DJs in every corner of the country. This was the literally larger than life James Hamilton (1942-1996), and if you’re a British DJ, whether you’ve heard of him or not, you can’t have escaped his influence, for he’s part of the very fabric of our DJ / club heritage.
Gil Scott-Heron died last Friday (May 27th 2011), aged 62. He was one of those artists who built his reputation on the fringes – hugely influential, yet almost completely unknown within a mainstream context. Initially a writer and poet, Scott-Heron hooked-up with musician Brian Jackson at university in Pennsylvania during the ’60s, the duo combining to great effect throughout the ’70s on a number of albums. His vocal style would be an inspiration to the oncoming Hip Hop generation, to whom his socially conscious lyrics, and their defiant delivery, helped lay the foundations for the Rap genre that would subsequently flourish during the ’80s and beyond, not least his keynote recording, ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, taken from his 1970 debut ‘Small Talk At 125th And Lenox’.