THE MID-60s, ALL SAINTS YOUTH CLUB 1965, A DJ AT 13
The first record I ever played was ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ by the Righteous Brothers in 1965, which was at All Saints junior school youth club in Wardley, Swinton when I was 13 years old. (the school has now closed down), my sister Christina was the youth club committee treasurer and came home to ask if the club could borrow my records because the girl that usually played them was poorly so I said yes but only if I could play them myself, that’s how it started.
THE LATE 60s-EARLY 70s, CROMWELL ROAD YOUTH CLUB
In 1969 I went on to Cromwell Road youth club in Salford from an invite by Gary Jackson who I became friends with while we both worked at Pilkington’s Tiles factory in Swinton.
All the equipment he used at the youth club was a real eye-opener for me because Gary worked with twin decks and a microphone, I learned a lot from Gary in the early days, which song I should play after another and timing had to be perfect.
THE 70s THE WISHING WELL
As a professional DJ, I started in 1973 at the Wishing Well Club in Swinton (now closed but not my fault) and was resident DJ there for almost 8 years. punk, rock & roll, Bowie/Roxy, Northern Soul, funk and disco were regular weekly nights there, the Change, the Fast Cars and the Salford Jets (Mike Sweeney). which were top local punk/new wave bands at the time, and with which I still work occasionally.
While I was at the club I broke the existing record of 74 hours for playing music non-stop held by Piccadilly Radio’s Roger Day by almost 30 hours, (I think that record still stands) I started the DJ marathon on Wednesday night at 7pm and finished it at midnight on Sunday, a total of 101 hours – 4 ½ days. (knackering) but with the help of some of the regulars Bryan Jary and Colin Meek somehow I managed it, raising money for a local school for for kids with special needs.
THE 80s GOING MOBILE
When I left the Wishing Well the natural step was to go mobile and do weddings, birthdays etc I bought my own very basic disco equipment which consisted of a set of twin decks (BSR turntables, they were better than Garrard), a pair of speakers, and a box of coloured light bulbs that looked like traffic lights, again with the help of Gary Jackson then with Colin Meek we made the grade and I started to make a name for myself.
I travelled mainly around the local area starting with the Bull’s Head in Walkden (closed down then turned into JD Wetherspoon) but still not my fault !!).
That was my first pub residency.
But my sights were set on doing private functions like weddings, birthdays etc. So I bought an old Transit van from fellow DJ Paul King (RIP) and had to hire a couple of roadies as I was buying more equipment.
I have worked in the most glamorous places in the North West, the best hotels and the poshest houses working regularly for the ‘Cheshire Set’ and even a mansion but I’ve also worked in the worst places too but I won’t name any, it was all a learning curve.
When I get asked “what is your favourite type of music” ? I usually reply with… “anything that’s good”, but I’m partial to 60’s/70’s music,
soul/northern, Motown, Beatles, Steely Dan, and the Eagles with some 70s/80s rock thrown in.
The Beatles are my favourite band of all time followed closely by Steely Dan but as far as mobile work is concerned, I wouldn’t be able to play them so I leave that music for my home and my car.
When Freddie Garrity (Freddie & The Dreamers) died, a benefit was organised for his widow Christine and I was asked by my good friend Diccon Hubbard to DJ and co-compere for the evening with another good friend of mine Fred Fielder, again at the Willows Variety Centre in Salford (now closed but not my fault !)
I was also a regular guest on Piccadilly Radio 261 with Roger Day and the odd time with Mike Shaft, also a guest on Kiss FM in the 90s with David Dunne and more recently with Fred Fielder on Manchester Radio. I tried my hand with my own show on hospital Radio Metro at Leigh Infirmary for a few years but didn’t like it much. I always liked the interaction with people, you don’t get that on radio and anyway you have to be very careful what type of songs you play to the patients depending on why they are in there in the first place, for instance songs like ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and Frank Sinatra’s song ‘My Way’ was banned (the fist line is….’and now the end is near’) so I didn’t last long doing that.
THE 90s, CELEBRATION DISCO’S
During this time, I started as DJ & compere for City Venues in Salford working at Buille Hill Park Salford, Lancastrian Halls Swinton (closed, not my fault), Worsley Court House and as the regular DJ/compere at the Pembroke Halls Walkden (closed, not my fault…..honest) with the likes of Mike Sweeney & the Thunderbyrds, Stax of Soul, Edwin Starr and great local bands like Souled as Seen featuring Larry Edwards (RIP) and his Daughter Lareena, Jazz Amiga plus loads of other top acts like the Searchers, The Love Affair, Tremeloes and The Bay City Rollers, Sweet Chariot, Reg Coates Experience, Sweet Sensation & Odyssey.
I was happy with these venues and was making quite a big name for myself and the phone calls kept coming in, I was so busy that I asked a few of my DJ friends to help out with the work, I then decided to form my own entertainments agency Celebration Disco’s (closed…….now that WAS my fault !) at it’s height the business had about 70 DJs and Karaoke Presenters on my books which I supplied to pubs, clubs and private functions all around the North West and even further afield like Leeds, Birmingham, Blackpool and I even sent a DJ to France every Christmas & New Year’s Eve.
2000s AND CANCER
Celebration Disco’s lasted about 5 years up to 2000 and after a lot of hard work and a little help from Fellow DJ’s and good friends Tony Thomas (RIP) and Steve Sale, the business was beginning to bare fruit when everything went pear-shaped and I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, that’s when my future was temporarily put on hold and had to stop working.
While I was in hospital my sister Mona closed the business as she didn’t think I would be able to work again for a while, she was right.
I think the pressure and stress would have been too great at the time, I wasn’t mentally or physically in the best of health.
I was also financially in a mess with bills and growing debt and because I was self employed I couldn’t get any sick pay or benefits, so in 2001 my good friends Diccon Hubbard (Bullet Management) and Steve James (Shout Promotions) stepped in and organised a benefit concert for me at the Willows Variety Centre in Salford,(now closed) it was fantastic, the entertainment line up for the night was….
Boy to One (local boyband)
Mike Sweeney & the Thunderbyrds
Johnny Logan (3 times Eurovision Song Contest winner)
Souled as Seen with Larry Edwards and his daughter Lareena from TV’s ‘The Voice’
Stax of Soul
Siouxie Dee (DJ & good friend)
and Mike Sherrard (compere)
None of the acts would accept any money and with the profits of the concert all my bills were paid off…..I cannot thank everyone that was involved enough.
16 years on, I’ve fought the disease and after being given the all-clear 6 years after the original diagnosis and a couple of operations I feel very luck to be still here.
Now I’m doing pub quizzes and the odd soul, Motown and 70s nights (for free beer of course!).
So if any manager or licensee wants me to do a disco or quiz for them, BE CAREFUL, COS I MIGHT CLOSE YOU DOWN !!!!!!!!