As with House music supremo Frankie Knuckles in 2014, the unexpected death of Andrew Weatherall, apart from being a huge shock to all within the club / music community, represents a sudden juncture where a now older generation, once so vital with ideas and innovation, ponders its own mortality, the passage of time underlined with the passing of one of its heroes – a true UK great whose place, as both DJ and pioneering remixer, is assured in the history books, key to the understanding of dance culture and its evolution. So, this was especially sobering news to hear on Monday, social media awash with a genuine outpouring of loss.
Norman Jay MBE is no less than a UK DJ icon. A first generation Black Briton born into a Notting Hill-based Caribbean family, Norman first came to wider attention via London’s mid-‘80s Rare Groove scene, underpinned by his ‘Original Rare Groove Show’ on the city’s then pirate dance music station Kiss FM, having initially set out his stall via annual appearances at the Notting Hill Carnival, where his brother, Joey, re-branded his Great Tribulation Reggae sound system to the Funk / Disco / Soul-geared Good Times Roadshow.
DJ Les Adams, regarded as one of the UK’s mixing pioneers, died suddenly last Monday of a heart attack – he was 63.
Trevor Jackson is something of a cultural maven whose thirty-plus years in the more underground corridors of the music industry has seen him fulfil a number of catalytic roles – starting off as a graphic designer at Champion Records in the late-‘80s, responsible for the S-Express ‘Theme From S-Express’ and Raze ‘Break 4 Love’ sleeves, amongst many other subsequently. Later a recording artist in his own right (Playgroup), a record company owner (Output) and, of course, a DJ, he continues to do his thing in his own inimitable way.
When I was over in Australia last November I was interviewed by Gilles Peterson for his series ‘The Psychology Of DJing’ as part of the Sydney Electronic Music Conference. It was an interview that covered many aspects of my career, much of which I’ve spoken about on numerous occasions previously. However, there was a different context to this – most of the time the interviewer is much younger than me, so they didn’t personally experience the times I’m talking about and the way things worked back then in the specialist areas of black music, whereas Gilles comes from the same roots as me, part of the next wave of DJs that followed-on from the Jazz-Funk era, when I first emerged on the specialist scene.
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).
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).Continue Reading →
Australia bound – my first of 5 dates coming up in Melbourne this Friday, with the Return To Rio Festival near Sydney the next day, before a trio of special Credit To The Edit parties in Brisbane (11th), Sydney (17th) and Perth (18th). Further info here:
Last year, Isaac Ferry, who runs Gouranga, which has hosted some of my live mixes on SoundCloud, asked if I’d be up for doing something more bespoke, suggesting I focus in on Chic, given both their history and more recent renaissance as one of the must-see live feelgood experiences of the festival calendar.
Sheffield-born Peter Stringfellow who died yesterday, aged 77, was Britain’s most famous nightclub entrepreneur. The glitzy London club that bore his name a magnet for celebrities during the ‘80s, epitomising the glamourous world he always sought, in contrast to his cash-strapped working class roots.