Northern Soul Music

The Story of Northern Soul Music


What exactly is meant by the phrase - northern soul music ?

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Here is the story of English entertainer Wayne Kennedy who was involved in its inception.

I began as a disc jockey in late 68 whilst still a student at Hallcroft School in Ilkeston Derbyshire England.

On the 15th of January 1968 I had been to the Sherwood Rooms in Nottingham along with 4 of the Smedley sisters from my home village of Stanley to see Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band. It changed my life - that was it - I was a mod - and to this day it remains the greatest live performance I have ever seen. Visits followed to places like the Brit Club (Britannia Rowing Club) and the Beachcomber in Nottingham to hear American soul tunes. I began to work for DJ and promoter Dave Knight at the Shipley Boat Inn and then he started promoting at the Ilkeston Co-op Ballroom.

In January 1970 I began working for Dave at The Blue Orchid in Draycott between Derby and Nottingham. This event was a weekly all-nighter and every Friday I would go from the Co-op to The Orchid as it became known. Throughout the entire year I missed just one all-nighter when I was away on holiday in Rhyl.

People were travelling from all over the country to hear primarily rare American soul records. Every week it seemed another great song from the past decade was discovered. To some it may seem a little strange now but quality new releases like the Invictus singles Give Me Just A Little More Time by Chairman Of The Board and Band of Gold by Freda Payne were also played.

Record dealer Jeff King from Leicester would arrive every Friday with a new bunch of goodies - I actually got paid in records as Dave would pay Jeff.

Most discotheques at the time were dingy night clubs in city centres - not the Orchid it was a class restaurant with a swimming pool, lawns and a picturesque fountain outside.

The Orchid oozed class and jeans were not allowed what so ever - I even saw guys turned away who had drove a 100 miles to get there.

One definitive moment was around 4 am on a Saturday morning when the summer sun began to rise and looking outside at the fountain whilst hearing Monkey Time by Major Lance.

Various American soul acts appeared live at the venue, not every week but usually about once a month.

Sadly The Orchid only ran for about a year and finished at the end of 1970, but its significance and contribution to northern soul was undoubtedly immense.

One night a guy came up whilst I was spinning tunes and introduced himself - Hi I'm Les Cockell the DJ from The Wheel. This was the legendary Twisted Wheel in Manchester. Les was impressed with what he saw and heard and invited me up to The Wheel.

continued ....... Story of Northern Soul Music part 2

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