Pete Collins – a short history of a long life………. p.collins

VITAL STATISTICS
Age – Old (I can remember watching Andy Pandy on the telly!)
Height – Short.
Weight – Fat.
Eyes – Bloodshot.
Hair – Wavy (I wave goodbye to more of it every day!)
Favourite Drink – Anything alcoholic.
Favourite Food – …….Food – what’s all that about then?

I’m an old original Essex mod; inevitable I suppose if like me you were a teenager from the Romford area in the 1960’s. School discos hadn’t been invented yet, so Saturday night in those days meant the local youth club bash (booted and suited!) with a live band. Some of these bands were playing tunes which I hadn’t heard before but was reliably informed were ‘rhythm and blues’ songs originally done by black American artistes. This music was much more exciting than the pop stuff, so I made it my mission to find out more.

None of the local record shops sold any of these tunes so I spent a lot of time in dingy jazz record shops in London’s West End finding out about people like Sam Cooke, Etta James, Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles. About the same time, some of the British pop acts released awful covers of what was now being called ‘soul’, the worst being the Beatles versions of ‘Please Mr Postman’ (The Marvelletes) and ‘Money’(Barrett Strong). I found the much superior originals on a brilliant American label called Tamla Motown. I also tracked down a club called the Lotus Ballroom above Burton’s tailors shop in Forest Gate which played my sort of music on Saturday nights. The rest, as they say, is history. I have been a devotee of soul music ever since, my only regret being that there have been so many good tunes released over the past 40 years I could never afford to buy them all and I’m still looking for the ones that got away!

I started to DJ seriously some time around the late 1970’s, mainly in pubs/bars in East London and Essex, and eventually on some highly illegal FM radio stations. I even spent a bit of time trying to spread the word in sunny Greece! Some readers may remember ICR FM out of Chelmsford, a long running soul station on which I presented a two hour closedown show of laid back soul on Sunday nights. This caused no end of problems as I used to do a 60’s night at the Charles III in Billericay finishing at 10.30pm and then had to get to Chelmsford to be on air by 11pm - not easy to do in a beaten up old Ford Escort! By the early 90’s however I had given up all hope of getting into the ‘Premier League’ of soul jocks so I hung up my headphones and became a punter instead.

Regular Caisterites will know that Caister Radio was reinstated as part of the weekenders some time ago, and was organised by the Concept FM crew. I had met most of these guys during my time on pirate radio, actually having done a couple of shows for Concept. A few years back Caister Radio was looking for extra presenters to cover some of the graveyard shifts and offered me a show as I was a known quantity. I gratefully accepted this offer not just because my record collection was gathering dust but also because I really enjoy being on radio. I obviously passed the audition OK as many people now call me ‘the voice of Caister Radio’ and regular appearances on there have become an important part of the weekenders for me!

Reaction to my radio shows proved favourable, and pressure started on me to do some live DJ’ing when I returned back south after living in Merseyside for a while. I resisted at first as I am quite shy (honestly!) and tend to suffer from dreadful ‘stage nerves’. Andy Unique conned me into guesting for him in the Waterworld at the May 2003 Caister, but Trev Archer (cheers mate!) wins the award for being the first person to get me back behind the decks properly, threatening me with all sorts of dire torture if I didn’t do a set at his all-dayer at The Ship in Leigh-on-Sea. Thankfully it was a small venue with an excellent crowd of punters and my set was fairly late in the day which gave me enough time to swallow some ‘Dutch courage’! The gig went so well we were invited to do it all again in November, and I also blagged a spot on Frostie’s Birthday boat in October.

The ‘comeback’ was completed at the October 2003 Caister. I was totally gobsmacked to be given two sessions in the main room –even in my wildest dreams this was more than I could ever hope for! Since then Caister has very kindly allowed me to occupy the warm-up slot at the monthly Soul Heaven @ at Vivo’s which I enjoy immensely as it’s my favourite club night anyway. I am also being invited to appear at other soul events so life is becoming more interesting every day.

With the exception of my late fiancée Glen, soul music has been the biggest love of my life. I still get excited about those tunes which send a little shiver down my spine (real soul fans will know what I mean), and I do try to keep up with the new stuff though I have to admit I’m not really a big fan of house, rap or what is now tagged R&B. I will however confess to being quite partial to a bit of jazz, blues, modern and Northern soul.

And that’s about it really. I am thoroughly enjoying the live DJ’ing this time round and the nerves have held up better than I expected. Not everybody gets a second chance at my age and it’s amazing to have my name on the same flyer as some of the legendary soul jocks!! I thank all my good friends on the soul scene for the support, encouragement and help you have given me over the last few years or so – you know who you are and I couldn’t have done it without you.

I don’t have an e-mail address for you as my day job doesn’t pay enough to allow me the luxury of being able to afford anything as exotic as the internet!

………..this (old) man is suffering from an overdose of joy……….LUCKY FELLER!!!!!!!!