What exactly is meant by the phrase - northern soul music ?
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In 1974 I was 21 in August (getting old) and in September joined a professional band as a singer and sax player. As well as soul music I have always loved 50s swing, doo-wops and R & B roots and enjoyed the opportunity to perform it.
For the next 12 years I did no DJ jobs (Rock n Roll Star now) and it was sometime in this period that I finally wilted under pressure and sold a few of my records to Chris King.
1983 I ventured transatlantic to America for the first time with Kev Roberts and we checked out a guy called Jerry Blavat at his club Memories in Margate near Atlantic City, New Jersey. I had heard Jerry introducing The Five Satins on an album some years prior. Wow - the slickest most confident rapper known to mankind - coupled with incredible musical knowledge dating back to the origins of rhythm & blues. Jerry was a dancer on the original Bandstand TV Show. This chance encounter lead me to discover a whole new scene in Philadelphia. Hearing records like "Please Forgive Me" by the Du-Ettes for the first time was like being hit by a steam train at full speed. To this day Jerry remains a friend and "The City Of Brotherly Love" is without doubt the R & B capital of the world.
Back to England and in December 1985 my dear friend Kev Roberts asked me to do a guest DJ spot at his record shops Christmas party at Valentino's in Mansfield. It was a real wild night (still got it baby) and the owner and management literally begged Kev and I to perform every Wednesday. We started in January 1986 with 19 people and this swelled to 600 in a few months. Yes we played a lot of pop but what a thrill to see teenagers picking up on tunes like Stay Close To Me by The Five Stair Steps and Cubie - a record I bought in 1969. For six years I had a lot of fun on Wednesday nights (maybe too much) and was still packed solid when I left.
Into the 90s I formed the Classic Soul Club and did several venues around the Nottingham/Derby area. Unfortunately one cancelled my contract so they could try and take my success and it took six years of legal action before they ended up paying me a considerable five figure sum. Sad thing is it was never really about money - the good times are what really matters - but such is life.
Now some 35 years later and I'm back at my dearly beloved Ilkeston Co-op on the last Friday in the month and also at The Queensway Suite in Mansfield on the first Friday in the month.
Singing and playing sax is still my main occupation these days, but whilst I still possess the same enthusiasm for 60s soul tunes and making people smile - I will continue to try and "Keep The Faith" !
Now some youngsters of today's generation may read this and laugh their heads off - and that's OK - because now is your time. But when you reach 50 I hope you are still as passionate about your music and that you too have lots of genuine friends who like you have also remained resolute throughout in their beliefs.
Time may have passed us by - but it aint over yet baby !
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