My first musical influence was my older (by two years) sister who, from the late 60s, was well into her soul and reggae and wrote her name in pink nail varnish in the centre of every record she owned. The first album I bought for myself was The Jackson 5 'Maybe Tomorrow' in 1971. Well, actually I didn't buy it for myself, I bought it for my very first girlfriend - a young lady called Beverley West, and she better still have it.
I started collecting vinyl seriously in about 1974 and got my first brief taste of spinning out in around 76 when me and a friend understudied for a DJ friend and got sacked on our first night. "You're playing too much black music" the manager said to us, as if that was a criticism. But my musical tastes were well and truly set in stone as a regular of the tiny Zoom Zoom club in sunny Sidcup in the mid 70s, a mainly black club with white DJ Mick Lavelle who had one hell of a brilliant record collection encompassing soul, disco, funk, jazz, reggae etc, which I thought I'd try and emulate.
I spent the years between 1976 and 1980 going out seven nights a week and spending most days seeking out tunes I'd heard playing in the clubs. Dole periods, lunchtimes and Sunday mornings were spent beavering through the racks at tiny import stores in Petticoat Lane, Contempo Records in Hanway Street, or City Sounds, or getting stuff direct from Tony Monson's import store, otherwise known as his house. Though you couldn't see it was a houseâ€¦.it was under the records. Favourite nocturnal hang outs were Saturdays at Legends, or at Upstairs at Ronnies to hear the latest disco 12s and see house band Hot Wax (later to become Hi Tension), then on to the Global Village (later to become Heaven); Sunday nights and the lunchtime sessions at Crackers in Wardour Street with DJ George Power; Monday nights at Clouds in Brixton with Greg Edwards; Wednesdays at the Bali Hai in Streatham for the mellow soul grooves session; Thursday nights at the Marlowe Rooms in deepest Kent (where usually there was a dance round yer handbag night, but occasionally they had great live acts such as the JALN Band. And they had DJ Keith Capri who's afro and car were the only things bigger than his ego, (though the man knew his tunes); or Thursdays were often at the Moat in even deeper Kent with the jazz funk/furry dice brigade. Tuesdays and Fridays were at the Zoom Zoom with the dancers coming from miles away to show off their moves. The only deviation from that cycle was to try a new club every so often, or if the money situation allowed, a night at the Embassy in Bond Street or Regines' roof garden in Kensington with their wall to wall rich kids.
By 1981 I was tired enough to agree to my girlfriend's suggestion that we marry, settle down and sprout three kids, a dog and goldfish etc. But getting a job with the Fire Brigade in 1987 brought me back into contact with Dave Cooper, a fellow soul boy/record fiend from the Zoom Zoom days. I used to see him across the other side of the dancefloor, often thinking to myself that, one day, his goatee was going to come into fashion. We decided to put our collective record collections to good use. I bought my first set of decks from the Coops (thanks mate) and taught myself to mix like a bloke carrying lots of knives and forks falling down the stairs. Sorted. We've now DJ'ed at more dodgy clubs and weddings than I can care to remember but we've also been lucky enough (experience-wise) to play the baby box at the Ministry of Sound on various Saturday nights during the late 90s. We've done a nice few bars in our time too, usually playing funky retro sets, at such places as the Katabatic in the East End, and were a fixture throughout the 90s at the regular 70s nights at Blackheath Concert Halls, playing to some very big crowds along with the likes of the legendary Chris Hill. Dave's penchant for house music has led him to DJing in Ibiza, whereas my jazzy left-field retro tastes have led me to doing a couple of stints on Bexley Hospital Radio (a psychiatric establishment whose patients enjoyed my schizophrenic blends from "Lets Get It On" in to "Dancing In Outer Space").
And we're still going strong, much to the annoyance of our wives. Currently, you'll find me (with Dave of course) every other Tuesday at the 'Z BAR' in Brixton playing the usual funky mixture.
I met up with Alan via the web and he put myself and Coops in touch with the Dixter who put us all in touch with the Mastercuts man himself, Mr Dewhirst. I must say I've had hours of fun exchanging a few decades of soulful tunes, lagers and spliffs with the chaps and, not least, putting together the current 6MS collective. Dick's grasp of all things in the internet's audio galaxy has enabled him to come up with wants for me that I thought I'd never see; and he's also introduced me to a few 80s tracks I'd missed whilst watching Barry McGuigan or standing outside the delivery room. Thanks for that mate. And Alan is the font of all knowledge. Nobody knows more about fonts than Alan. Cheers geez. And, finally, Ian has taught me that I'm not a lazy bastard in the scheme of things and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Myself and DC (along with Andrew) present the Saturday morning show "6MS Sessions" (11am - 1pm) on Stomp Radio, playing an eclectic mix of funky grooves, so have a listen. Also check out the series "JJ's Smoking Sessions", put together by yours truly. :)
My current top tens (which waver thee not):
Disco Top Ten
1. Double Exposure - 'My Love Is Free' (Salsoul 12")
2. Sylvester - 'Over and Over' (Fantasy LP)
3. D.C. Larue - 'Cathedrals' (Pyramid 12")
4. Originals - 'Down To Love Town' (Motown 12")
5. Chic - 'Dance, Dance, Dance' (Atlantic 12")
6. T.Connection - 'Do What You Wanna Do' (TK 12")
7. Brass Construction - 'Movin' (United Artists LP)
8. CJ & Co - 'Devil's Gun' (Westbound LP)
9. Dexter Wansell - 'Life On Mars' (TSOP LP)
10. Cerrone - 'Love in C Minor' (Cotillion LP)
Not Disco top ten
1. Marvin Gaye - 'What's Going On' (Motown LP)
2. Sly & The Family Stone - 'Family Affair' (Epic LP)
3. George Benson - 'This Masquerade' (Warner LP)
4. Marvin Gaye - 'Distant Lover' (Motown LP)
5. Sly & The Family Stone - 'If You Want Me To Stay' (Epic LP)
6. Martine Girault - 'Revival' (FFR 12")
7. Nina Simone - 'Baltimore' (CTI LP)
8. Big Youth - 'Dreadlock Dread' (Virgin LP)
9. Roy Ayers - 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine' (Polydor LP)
10. Staple Singers - 'Lets Do It Again' (Curtom LP)