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.
Launching in Manchester on Thursday (January 30th), the British Culture Archive present a photographic exhibition, ‘The People’s City’, in conjunction with the host venue, The Refuge on Oxford Street, highlighting the work of Peter Walsh, Rob Bremner and Richard Davis, and curated by Paul Wright. This follows on from their debut exhibition late last year at The Social in London.
Following the re-boot of the A&R Edits imprint last year, the latest 12”, #11 in the series, is now available, coupling Italian DJ Moplen’s edit of mid-‘70s Disco favourite, ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ by Tavares, with a collaboratory take on David Joseph’s ‘You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me)’, the result of my 2011 edit of Moplen’s edit of Larry Levan’s 1983 remix of the track, which now finally finds its way onto vinyl.
This was originally meant as my small contribution to last April’s Cerne to CERN continental Happening, where the Liverpool Arts Lab hooked up with the Cosmic Trigger crew for a magic bus ride into the beyond (in this case Damanhur in Italy, before crossing the Swiss border on route to Geneva to head to the site of the CERN collider).
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.
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 →
Running Back, the German dance label headed up by DJ Gerd Janson, re-issue one of the first tracks I ever worked on today, 34 years on from its original release in 1984.