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 | Wigan Pier
Dave Haslam’s new book, ‘Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor’ has just been published by Constable. It’s an ode to his time in Manchester, from 1980 when he arrived in the city from his Birmingham home to study English Literature, right through until what he’s been up to in more recent times, but as you’d expect given Dave’s Haçienda legacy, particular emphasis is placed on his time as DJ at the much-hallowed venue, and the clubs that orbited around it.
This weekend Colin Curtis celebrates his 50th anniversary as a DJ with a special event at The Exchange in his home city of Stoke-On-Trent. Colin started out in his mid-teens at Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s Crystal Ballroom, before making his all-nighter debut at Stoke’s hallowed Golden Torch, one of Northern Soul’s foundation venues, eventually becoming one of the scene’s leading figures as a result of his legendary ‘70’s partnership with Ian Levine at the Blackpool Mecca. Info about the anniversary date here:
I’ve written / adapted some sleeve notes for the new Joey Negro / Z Records compilation, which I’ve reproduced below. The album is available now on CD and digital, whilst there’s also a vinyl double-pack available, featuring 8 of the tracks, 2 per side. You can purchase the various formats here:
Back in 1966, The Beatles’ record producer, George Martin, executed my favourite singular edit of all time. John Lennon had been working on the now iconic ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ – he’d recorded 2 versions, and was faced with the dilemma of wanting to use the first section of one recording, but take the rest of the track from a completely different and more progressive version. His comment to George Martin, when the producer pointed out the difficulties of matching pitch and tempo, was ‘you can fix it’. The fixed version is the definitive one that we all know, two recordings perfectly merged together by one decisive splice. You can hear it, if you listen carefully, at just before the minute mark, on ‘going to’:
Back in the early 2000s, when I began to explore the internet properly, discovering a number of DJ forums discussing dance culture and its history, it was clear that the early ’80s had been largely obscured. This was the period that followed the supposed death of Disco in 1979 (prompted by the vitriolic racist / homophobic ‘’Disco Sucks’ campaign fronted by WLUP Chicago shock jock Steve Dahl), and preceded the emergence of House music during the mid-’80s.
I wanted to write in greater personal detail about David Bowie and the depth of impact his music and words had on me during my formative teenage years – this occurring when I was between the ages of 12 and 15. I’d uploaded a blog post once I’d heard about his death, but I’ve found myself needing to revisit what was a magical mystical part of my musical / life initiation, as much for myself as anyone else, both by listening through the records I loved, and still love, whilst getting it all into words somehow. Once I started writing this I couldn’t contain it – it was bursting out of all sides. So please excuse me for the tangents I go off on and the jumping about – there’s no easy coherent way for me to express this. For a period following his 6th July 1972 ‘Starman’ performance on Top Of The Pops, until 1975, when I began to disengage, Bowie ruled ok in my world.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of my first club appearance. Last night I played for 5 hours at The Garage and tonight I’m at The Jacaranda to conclude a celebratory weekend in my home city of Liverpool with a talk about what it was like to be a DJ back in those proto-Disco days.
As outlined in the previous blog posts, the end of 2013 was all about 2 significant anniversaries for me – the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, swiftly followed by the 30th anniversary of my first time around ‘retirement’. Given that I stopped at the end of ’83, this brought my ‘Early ’80s Floorfillers’ series to a conclusion after 24 monthly episodes that spanned January ‘82 to December ’83, each edition appearing 30 years on from when I originally played these records.
Having just marked the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, I’ve now reached the 30th anniversary of when I cut out first time around at the end of ’83 – my last Wigan Pier appearance on Tuesday 28th December, before rounding things off at Legend the next night. During the same week my final mix for Mike Shaft’s show on Piccadilly Radio was broadcast. Following on from the previous year’s ‘The Best Of 82’, which had caused such a stir, ‘The Best Of 83’ did what it said on the tin, bringing together the biggest tunes I was playing that year. My successor, Chad Jackson (a future DMC World Mixing Champion) would continue the ‘Best Of’ tradition on Piccadilly, with the baton later handed on to Stu Allan – these end of year mixes continuing until 1992.