Manchester-born DJ Dave Booth died on Saturday – at time of writing there’s been no announcement regarding cause of death, although it appears to be sudden. Dave was 61.
Still in his teens, in the late-‘70s he became a 3 night a week regular at Pips in Manchester, religiously attending for the next 3 years. Pips was a big concern back then, advertising itself throughout the Granada TV region as ‘No.1 In Europe’ – it was a 4-roomed venue featuring a whole spectrum of music, and is best-remembered for its pioneering Roxy room, where the music of David Bowie, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk and other what were then termed alternative artists reigned supreme – Joy Division (then billed as Warsaw) would play their first gig there, and a number of future Manchester luminaries were weekly attendees.
The venue would operate for 10 years until its 1982 closure (the same year The Haçienda opened), Dave landing a DJ residency there during its final year on the recommendation of Roxy room DJ Alan Maskell to launch his long career, doubling-up with Maskell during these earlier years. The city’s short-lived, but gloriously infamous Rave era venue, Konspiracy, would re-occupy the old Pips space in the late-‘80s.
Pips and its multi-room musical eclecticism would shape Dave’s approach to DJing and the width of records he wished to feature. His subsequent Manchester residencies would draw on the alternative scene that had developed out of the Roxy / Bowie nights that had sprung up throughout the UK, although a notable exception was his hugely popular Under-18 Saturday afternoon Mod revival sessions at Cloud Nine, next door to the hallowed record shop Spin Inn, where the crowds packed in to listen to Tamla Motown, Northern Soul, 60s, Ska and Two Tone.
He also took over the Thursday night at Legend with Alan Maskell in 1984, which had a major alternative / futurist legacy dating back to the Dancematic days under Paul Rae and Ralph Randell’s stewardship. More recently Dave told me that he often used to come and see me play on my Wednesday nights at Legend – he was a massive fan of the club and the duo wrote in their newsletter at the time; ‘over the past 3 years, from Pips through Berties and DeVilles to our present habitués at Cloud Nine every Saturday, and now the ultimate…Legend on Thursdays!’.
Throughout the ‘80s and early-‘90s he was a mainstay of the Manchester club scene, with further residencies at clubs including The Playpen, The Hangout, 42nd Street, Berlin, Isadora’s, The Venue, The Asylum, The Banshee , Konspiracy and Manchester Academy, incubating a number of micro-scenes along the way.
Dave knew Ian Brown and John Squire from his nights at The Playpen and would DJ for The Stone Roses on numerous occasions, including slots at their most memorable trio of appearances – the Blackpool Empress Ballroom and London Alexandra Palace shows in 1989 and 1990’s legendary Spike Island gathering in Widnes.
He referred to his nights at The Haçienda in the early-‘90s as ‘the worst DJing mistake I’ve ever made’. Having built a successful twice weekly residency at 42nd Street, he was reluctant to let it go, but the money offered by The Haçienda was too good to turn down, so he made the switch. He’d previously stood in for Dave Haslam on his Thursday night Temperance sessions and now he was there every Friday, but the timing was wrong as the iconic venue was then experiencing serious problems with gangs, who regarded the club as their personal HQ, jostling for control the drugs trade. As a consequence, The Haçienda was forced to close for a period in 1991, 6 months after Dave had started there. He felt he lost momentum in the city after this and would have perhaps been better served long-term to stick with what he had.
All this was academic though, for within a few years, when he turned up in Liverpool in 1994 as half of the DJ duo Dave & Huey, he and his partner would garner almost mythical status as the residents of Garlands, a gay / gay friendly club that is now part of the city’s folklore, having finally closed last year – a quarter of a century on. Dave was there for 22 of those years, adapting his playlist to a uplifting House-based approach that defined the Garland’s vibe – its status as one of the UK’s leading gay venues soon assured.
He felt that the longevity of his time at Garlands obscured his Indie roots in Manchester – the disconnect also being that whilst he DJ’d under his full name in Manchester, in Liverpool most people only knew him as Dave from Dave & Huey. Many people who remembered him from Manchester would have had little idea of his Liverpool legacy and vice-versa.
Playing at G Bar after Garlands had let out and hosting a Juice FM show with Huey, Dave was certainly an adopted Scouser. Garland’s would also host parties in Ibiza – this being an annual highlight for him.
I got to see him play at Garlands on a number of occasions. Most memorably during the clubs early years when it swept in as a breath of fresh air, revitalising Liverpool’s gay scene, which had grown tired and increasingly formulaic throughout the previous decade.
I was last in contact with Dave about a year ago. He’d asked me to be a guest on Manchester’s All FM radio, where he was hosting a show with Sean Connors, and particularly wanted to talk to me about my time at Legend. I went to Manchester on the assigned day, but there was a mix-up with the studio and they had to cancel – unfortunately we never managed to re-arrange. Listening to the teaser in the show linked below, makes me feel really sad that we’ll never get to have that conversation now:
As with the great Roger Eagle in the era before him, Dave managed to bridge the divide between Manchester and Liverpool, making a lasting impression on many people and building a solid legacy in both of these musical strongholds – as demonstrated by the many tributes posted on social media by DJs and musicians from both cities.
Dave Booth SoundCloud:
Louder Than War Interview: https://louderthanwar.com/dj-dave-booth-an-interview-with-one-of-the-key-manchester-djs/
Nighclubbing Episode 1 – Pips, with Dave Booth https://www.mixcloud.com/seanconnors161/nightclubbing-episode-1-pips-with-dave-booth/