Something Got Me Started
The year was 1975. I was four years old. It's my earliest memory of my love of music and it involved watching Top of the Pops and the video to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen. I remember being completely transfixed by the television. I'd never seen or heard anything like it before. It had an immense effect on me… including giving me nightmares for a few days after!
While I was growing up, Thursday night was always reserved for Top of the Pops. A chance to see your favourite artists and follow their progress. In 1975 my interest in music was still in its infancy but that didn't stop me from watching every week and also listening to certain shows on Radio One. Even at a young age, I had a fascination with music and the way it was presented. Radio One was huge, with the DJs becoming household names and almost as big as the artists they were playing. Top of the Pops regularly attracted audiences in excess of 10 million and record sales were on the increase, this was a boom time for the music industry.
Jump forward a few years to 1979. It was a junior school disco and, whilst all my friends were either dancing or running around and skidding on their knees, I was watching the DJ. It was like a spell had been cast on me. The light boxes, infinity screens, rope-light and fuzz lights had me in a strangely hypnotic trance that no-one could wake me from. My euphoria was at its peak when the DJ activated the strobe. What magic is this? I'm running, but it looks like I'm walking. Whatever it is, I like it! I spent the entire evening watching the DJ at work whilst trying to get a sneaky peak at what was going on behind the wall of lights. I had caught the bug and knew what I wanted to be when I grew up... a DJ!
My first efforts at being a DJ involved listening to the radio whilst pretending to play the tracks using the mixing desk that I had created from a couple of old biscuit tin lids (record decks), rulers (record player arms) and rubbers (faders/buttons). Even at eight years old, my creative streak was developing!
I took this one step further when I was given my own Dansette record player. For those of you too young to know, Dansette record players were very popular throughout the 50s and 60s with many people, including my parents, storing them in the loft on the off-chance they may be needed again one day. The model I owned was a Dansette Capri. It featured a record deck that played vinyl of all speeds (16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm); a built in amp/speaker; bass, treble and volume controls; plus the added bonus of being able to stack several records at a time that would drop down and play one after each other... it was brilliant!
I would load up the record player, half a dozen of my favourite singles at a time, and sit for hours listening to music and introducing each track, imagining that I was either on the radio or performing at a disco. I had the timing down to perfection. As one track ended I would start my spiel, back announcing the record that had just played and introducing the record about to drop down from the stack and start playing. I was always careful to keep an eye on the record deck mechanism to ensure I didn't miss my cue and always 'beat the intro'.
Once I had perfected my style (ahem!), I moved things up a level and started recording myself using state of the art technology - or a Panasonic tape recorder as it was known in 1980. The unit was basic, but did the job. The controls included Play, Fast Forward, Rewind, Stop, Eject and Record. It also featured a built-in microphone which could be activated by pressing both Play and Record simultaneously. So now I could play my records, introduce them and record myself doing it. It was only a matter of time before my demo tape was ready to send to Broadcasting House and that Radio One job was sure to be mine!
A few weeks later I was given a present by one of my relatives... another Dansette record player! The exact same model as the one I already owned. So now I had two record players, my first twin decks! I placed them side by side and admired them. Together, they were a thing of beauty and meant that I could really step things up. I no longer had to wait for records to drop down on one deck, I could now play track after track using both decks.
Now I had two decks, I felt ready to perform my first ever mobile disco. I was a member of a local youth club and one of the leaders offered me the opportunity to be the DJ for one of their disco nights. The club was held in the local Methodist Church and, on a cold Friday night, I set up my two decks in one of the rooms and played my first set... to 10 people! I didn't care how many people were in the room, I was just happy to be the DJ.
The full article can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 73, Pages 32-37.