Rewinding 40 years, a new double-album had just been issued that would provide the black music event of the year. 1976 marked the emergence of Punk, but my attention, as a 16 year old DJ working at local venues, the Chelsea Reach and the Penny Farthing in my hometown of New Brighton, was very much geared towards the Soul, Funk and Disco flavours of the time, and the release of a new Stevie Wonder album, let alone a double album (which also included a bonus 4 track EP), was greatly anticipated. It was the first UK release on the newly designed blue Motown label, which had replaced the classic Tamla Motown label that had issued all Motown output here since the mid-’60s, bringing the company’s various imprints (including Motown, Tamla, Gordy, Soul and V.I.P) under one inimitable umbrella.
Less than a month on from the death of Percy Sledge, another Atlantic Records R&B luminary, Ben E. King (Benjamin Nelson), formerly of The Drifters, died on Thursday, aged 76.
Like many in the club community, it was a shock to hear that next month’s Southport Weekender, nowadays held at Butlin’s Holiday Resort in Minehead, and attracting over 6,500 people, will be the final one. This much-loved gathering of black music enthusiasts and aficionados has run since 1987 and celebrated its 50th event only last year. ‘Rising costs and expectations’ have been given as the reason for this sudden announcement – the press statement can be read here at Resident Adviser: http://www.residentadvisor.net/news.aspx?id=28827
It’s been a particularly hectic period for me – within the last 3 weeks I’ve been in Ibiza, and then Glastonbury, before heading over to Croatia for the Garden Festival, with a couple of further festival appearances in Holland (Down The Rabbit Hole) and Leicestershire (Noisily) slotted in for good measure. On the back of this came a special event right on my doorstep in Liverpool, at St Lukes, a once Anglican parish church originally built in the early 19th century, which, during the intensive German bombing raids on Liverpool in 1941 was hit by an incendiary device and reduced to a ruin. The burnt out shell, without a roof, has become a city center landmark, affectionately known as ‘the Bombed Out Church’, and during more recent times has been utilised as a venue for a series of arts-based events. It’s a proud symbol of the city’s defiance, but it’s currently under threat of being taken over by developers, and potentially ending up as some fancy boutique hotel, or prime location accommodation. In a world where style so often triumphs over substance, let’s hope the Crowdfunder recently launched to help enable this iconic building to remain a community / arts space, raises the necessary financial support. Find out more here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/Bombed-Out-Church
Another Soul legend left this mortal coil last Friday, aged 70.
Roger Eagle died 15 years ago today. For those who don’t know who I’m talking about, don’t bother looking for info about him on Wikipedia, for, somewhat unbelievably, he still has no entry – yet this guy should have statues in 2 cities for, suffice to say, without him, both Manchester and Liverpool’s cultural heritage would be substantially poorer. He was a musical maven that made so much happen in ’60s Manchester and ’70s Liverpool, before returning to Manchester in the ’80s. He was there, right in the midst of things, at a series of crucial moments spanning the eras of the Mods, the Hippies, the Punks and the Ravers. His legacy was finally brought into focus via the 2012 Bill Sykes book ‘Sit Down! Listen To This!’. I blogged about it here, hopefully it will help shine some light on the true gravitas of this man:
On Easter Sunday, The Date @ Loft Studios in London hosts a ‘Disco Special’ All-Dayer, commemorating it’s 2nd birthday with 8 hours of music, commencing at 4pm in the afternoon and continuing until midnight. I’ll be appearing alongside New York’s Studio 54 legend, Kenny Carpenter, plus Baleraric favourite Phil Mison, Faith’s Dave Jarvis, and residents Stuart Patterson and Tim Keenoy. All the info is here:
Bronx born Frankie Knuckles (real name Francis Nicholls), the honorary Chicagoan bestowed with the title ‘Godfather Of House’, died last Sunday of diabetes-related complications. He was 59.
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.