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When I left school I was a typical 16 year old boy from the 80’s, I thought I was a ‘New Romantic’, I loved all the music of the time, and I eagerly recorded my favourites onto a cassette every Sunday whilst listening to the Top 40 on the radio. So you are probably wondering how a boy from Hove, Sussex turned into the massive Soul Fan I am today
I was lucky enough to win a scholarship in 1984 to a Performing Arts College in Putney, London, this meant my day would consist of an hour and a half train journey from my home in Portslade to London, no iPod in those days, the Walkman Cassette player was king, battery life was the only thing that could prevent me enjoying my music.
I overcame this by only using the Walkmans FM radio until the train passed under the Downs, through the mile long Clayton Tunnel just outside Brighton, I then had just enough juice in the batteries to listen to the cassette till, from around Three Bridges I started to pick up the London Radio Stations, L.W.R., Peoples Choice and Solar, I also found an old familiar voice going through something of a renaissance on “The Heart and Soul of London” BBC Radio London, Tony Blackburn hosted a morning soul show with classic soul from the 70’s and a mix of current (at the time) 80’s soul, this introduced me to artists like The Fatback Band, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin amongst many others.
The release of the now legendary ‘Thriller’ album also proved to be another major turning point in my early voyage of musical discovery. I was shocked to find Michael Jackson was responsible for some of my favourite dance floor fillers that I had danced to as a child at many a wedding reception or party, ‘Blame It On The Boogie” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Can You Feel It” these eventually led me back to his very early recordings with his brothers, The Jackson 5, and eventually of course, to Motown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Bristol etc.
And that was how my musical voyage of discovery into the Soul Genre began, I found that I was completely unaware as to how much Soul Music had inadvertently weaved its way into my life, through artists like Paul Young’s tribute to Marvin Gayes – “Wherever I Lay My Hat” and his later recording of Ann Peebles – “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down”, to the Flying Lizards version of Barrett Strong’s Motown classic – “Money (That’s What I Want)”, Bananarama’s recording of The Velvettes early Motown hit – “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’ and Marc Almonds Soft Cell’s hit – “Tainted Love” originally of course recorded by Gloria Jones back in 1965.
So my musical journey continues to this day, browsing Amazon or the shelves of our favourite record stores looking for bargain old Soul CD’s and discovering that tracks I thought I had never heard before are strangely familiar, and my biggest joy is sharing my discoveries with a larger audience at any given opportunity.
What attracted you to soul music in the first place, and does this still apply today?
Realising that a lot of the music I was experiencing in the early years, was in fact just remakes of soul classics, exploring the music’s origins and discovering more great quality output by the artists. And that very much drives my musical journey to this very day.
What are your top five favourite soul tracks?
Ouch just five? Really?… Maze – We Are One, LeRoy Hutson – All Because Of You, Arnies Love – I’m Out Of Your Life, Will Downing feat. Avery Sunshine – I’m Feeling The Love, Change – Searching
What are your favourite three record labels?
Motown, Stax, Expansion
Who are your favourite five artists?
Far too many to narrow it right down, but if you pin me down to it… Jackie Wilson, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, LeRoy Hutson
What are your top three soul clubs of all time?
I was too busy during my college days in Putney to go clubbing, I do love a Solar Boat Party though.
What radio experience did you have before you joined Solar?
Six years producing and presenting The Saturday Soul Train for Southampton Hospital Radio and Virtual Nightclub DJ online for ten years prior to that, ironically on a Cruise Ship/Party Boat.
What is/are your main criteria in choosing records for airplay?
Music that makes me want to move, or moves me emotionally.
Why would you recommend Solar to a listener? – Quality music brought to you by people with a real passion for the music.
Which other DJs do you admire and why?
Tony Monson, a legend, so knowledgable, if I can be half as good Tony I will be proud. Tony Blackburn, in his Radio London days, such an influence on my musical journey. Steve Walsh, responsible for most of my early Soul music exposure.
How would you like to be remembered by a listener? The guy who plays that great music, and still feels the passion for it.
What do you do to relax?
Watch all sorts of Sci-Fi and fantasy, movies and series, listen to Solar and enjoy time with my family, and my dog and cat.