I like so many others was inspired to become a dj by Chris Hill. Even before I had ever heard of the Goldmine or Lacy Lady, I used to listen intently to various soul music radio shows, notably Radio 1’s “discobating” on Saturday nights. This went out at 10pm until 1am which, was rather late for the 14 year old Ian so I used to listen to the first half and record the second half on TDK C90s! I then went out of my way to locate and buy the music I heard.
Having amassed a commendable collection of late disco and funk 7 inch singles I was often found gazing into my local Disco supply shop in Southend on Sea. It was here that I first clapped eyes on my dream…..a double deck turntable with amplifier and two speakers at the knock down price of £180! I told my parents that I wanted nothing else for Christmas and my Dad said, ok but only if you make it earn you money…..I got the decks and a gig at my local working mens club courtesy of my good old Dad….it paid £15 a night and all I could drink!
The first night I was there armed with my favourite tunes in an old drawer but to my astonishment the crowd were not the leat bit interested in my Earth Wind and Fire singles, not even Fantasy, or my O’Jays tunes, or Harold Melvin ……not even the Jackson 5……other than Rockin Robin! One of the customers asked for Elvis and when I said I had none, he told me if I didn’t want my gear smashed up, I needed to keep playing Rockin Robin…..I tried to ignore him but all hell broke loose!
So the following week, with Elvis 40 golden greats under my arm I went back….and stayed for a year by which time the club opened a proper nightclub upstairs, the interestingly named Fannys and I was finally able to play some proper tunes.
I upgraded the gear twice over the next couple of years and I was soon making some good money on Sundays at Fannys (which had now changed its name to the Lounge). I started a night in the City of London called BB’s which was very successful and I started doing guest slots around Essex as well.
When not djing myself I was often to be found in the Goldmine and of course Caister Soul Weekenders, my first being in 1980. I didnt miss a Caister until I got married in 1986 and by then I had more than a few tales to tell………..
It was at Caister that I first experienced the legend that is Chris Hill. I knew him from a couple of Christmas singles he had brought out in the mid 70’s, Renta Santa in 75 and Bionic Santa in 76 but here he was in the flesh and wow! This guy sang through an echo chamber to the songs, he totally worked the room and I simply knew that I was witnessing a master at work! I vowed to myself that I would do all I could to dj at the Caister Soul Weekender one day………..
In continued to dj off and on through the years, taking time off when my children were growing up and often thinking about perhaps selling my beloved collection of vinyl (some 20,000). Some friends of ours had bought a local restaurant and asked us to the grand opening. We couldn’t make it so booked a table in the restaurant the following evening. A live act was playing but during the break a CD was played containing not just the usual soul anthems but some less well known tunes from the 1980s. I told the owner that if he wanted any more Cds I had a large collection and could burn him some. His response was that there was a dj deck on the stage and if I wanted I could do him a night……I didn’t need to be asked twice and over the next few years, Marco’s Bar established itself as the place to go in Rayleigh on 1st Friday of the month.
I also started to present a soul show on Sunday afternoons on RD Radio, an internet station. After a few people tuned in and found that other than my show, the station’s musical output was somewhat depressing, we decided to set up our own station and Zero radio was born. However, after 15 months, I left the station and after a brief stint on Soul Groove Radio, I found my current slot on Dave Burton’s Soulconnexion radio more to my liking. I still do my standard 6pm to 8pm slot on Soulconnexion.
Favourite 20 songs (in no particular order)
1. T Connection – Do what you wanna do
2. Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
3. Earth Wind & Fire – I cant let go
4. Brenda Russell – In the thick of it
5. Cameo – Its Serious
6. Stargard – Which way is up
7. War – Galaxy
8. Fatback Band – Bus Stop
9. Arnies Love – Out of my life
10. Rueben Wilson – Get Your Own
11. Nature Zone – Porcupine
12. Grover Washington Jr – Sausalito
13. Crusaders – Lets dance together
14. Blue magic – Chasing Rainbows
15. Harold Melvin – Bad Luck
16. O’Jays – Message in our music
17. Solo – Blowing my mind
18. Brothers Johnson – Stomp
19. Manu Dibango – Big Blow
20. Sunburst Band – Everyday
Top 10 TV Shows
1. Match of the day
3. Top Gear
5. Fawlty Towers
7. Not Going Out
8. Phoenix Nights
1. Life of Brian
2. The Great Escape
3. Road Trip
4. Street Dance
5. Shawshank Redemption
6. Animal House
7. Pulp Fiction
8. The Italian Job
9. The Usual Suspects