From 1964 throughout the 70’s and 80’s, I was an influencial live DJ and stuntman, in the South East of England. I became known for playing the latest soul, ska, reggae, motown and the best of the current brit. pop, and for my ever increasing, crazy antics and stunts which led to the nickname, ‘The Wild One’
I was able to play a great selection of sounds, often in advance of release as, right from the start, most major and many minor record companies, sent me their demos and pre-releases. In later years, I plugged the hottest dance tracks.
My first DJ job was Monday nights at ‘The Star Ballroom’, in Maidstone, Kent. At first I sat down, like other dj’s, but bored with that, I threw away my chair and started to include visual effects and stunts. The show attracted a large crowd for years and later on, my Monday’s in Maidstone continued at ‘The Tudor House’ and enjoyed more years of success.
Other early venues included the famous ‘Witchdoctor’, in Catford, south east London. My Sunday night show became legendary and attracted people from far and wide. The Sunday nights continued for years, even when the club was renamed ‘The Savoy’. Popular with the mods who came to hear the best Soul, reggae and brit pop, and to watch the antics which I found hard to resist performing.
At the same time, I commenced Thursday nights at ‘The Witchdoctor’ in Hastings, East Sussex. These Thursdays proved to be so successful that they continued for years at this venue and then at a big club in George Street.
At the same period in time, I would travel to my Friday nights at Burtons, in Uxbridge, Middlesex. I built up a cult following at these and other venues and gradually built my road show up into a Luton van full of sound and lighting equipment and props such as Dracula in his coffin and a 10 foot tall Frankenstein which used to light up when exposed to uv lighting.
Apart from my own shows, I appeared with many groups. In the early days, The Cream with Eric Clapton, The Small faces, Screaming Lord Sutch etc. Saturdays at the Witchdoctor/ Savoy, Catford, I introduced many, mainly British bands who became famous in their own right. The Herd, Marmalade, The Love Affair, Desmond Dekker, The Sweet.etc. I was also compere at large pop concerts including ‘The Four Tops’ at Hammersmith Odeon, Stevie Wonder, Lewisham Odeon, Sam and Dave, Arthur Conley, Wilson Pickett, Fairfield halls, Croydon etc.
My stunts included handstands on speakers, balancing tables and chairs on my chin, using masks, knives, smoke and a host of other things. My exploding dustbin frightened the life out of many. My most infamous stunt was piercing my face and neck with 6” hat pins. I once turned down an opportunity to join Radio 1 as my love was working with live audiences, and performed stunts for tv and adverts.
The audiences were much involved in my shows and enjoyed competitions such as drinking a pint of raw eggs, changing clothes, the chest expanders (most repetitions), the hula hoop and a host of others.
Perhaps the best complement is that other DJ’s started to copy some of the effects I used such as back projections, uv lighting, comical old movie clips (like laurel & Hardy), filming the shows and the audience, smoke and lighting effects, etc. Some even started to try stunts and audience competitions became popular. This all helped to lead towards the concept of road shows (large and small) and DJ’s entertaining rather than just sitting down.
Sadly, the days of the DJ road show, has largely disappeared from the clubs but hopefully, leave fond memories for many.