Tag Archives | Taking Care Of Business

Funk Soul Brethren 1983

Having just marked the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, I’ve now reached the 30th anniversary of when I cut out first time around at the end of ’83 – my last Wigan Pier appearance on Tuesday 28th December, before rounding things off at Legend the next night. During the same week my final mix for Mike Shaft’s show on Piccadilly Radio was broadcast. Following on from the previous year’s ‘The Best Of 82’, which had caused such a stir, ‘The Best Of 83’ did what it said on the tin, bringing together the biggest tunes I was playing that year. My successor, Chad Jackson (a future DMC World Mixing Champion) would continue the ‘Best Of’ tradition on Piccadilly, with the baton later handed on to Stu Allan – these end of year mixes continuing until 1992.

Piccadilly Radio was a hugely important part of the city’s dance music heritage – I wrote this about the station in 2008:

‘The Best Of 83’ is available to stream / download:


It’s via Mike Shaft, synonymous with black music on the Manchester airwaves, that I came across the remarkable photo that provides the lead image to this piece. I’d never seen this picture before but it turned up on Mike’s website recently and really gave me one of those nostalgic jolts.

Mike can’t recall who took the photo, or where it was taken, but I think I can more or less answer the latter. The fact that I’m still somewhat shaggy-haired dates it as 1983, a few months after I mixed live, freshly bubble-permed, on TV’s ‘The Tube’ in the February. Looking back through the archives, the only time all these DJ’s appeared on the same bill was for a trio of All-Dayer dates in May of that year, held at The Leadmill in Sheffield, Angels in Burnley and Tiffany’s in Manchester – so I can confidently narrow it down to one of these 3 dates.

S.A.S Of G.B All Dayers May 1983

All-Dayers were held on Sundays and Bank Holidays, the most high profile of these bringing together a line-up of what might be referred to as ‘big name DJ’s’, those who hosted successful weekly club nights throughout the region. The DJ’s pictured lived in Stoke-On-Trent, Nottingham, London, Wigan and Bolton, with 2 from Manchester.

The All-Dayers in question were promoted by former Northern Soul stalwarts, Richard Searling and Bernie Goulding, under the S.A.S. of G.B. banner (Soul Appreciation Society Of Great Britain). Bernie wasn’t a DJ, but a record dealer who I’d met back when I was still at the Golden Guinea in New Brighton during the late 70’s. He’d sometimes drive over with a stock of new imports for me to listen through – ‘I Can’t Turn The Boogie Loose’ by The Controllers, which was one of the tracks on my first ‘Credit To The Edit’ album in 2005, was a 12” I remember picking up from Bernie on one of his visits.

Anyhow, here’s a bit of info about each of the DJ’s pictured, and their own individual legacy. It features some bona fide icons of the scene up North – collectively a group of DJ’s whose contribution to UK club culture is quite simply immeasurable:


Mike was the lynchpin of the scene in the North-West, given the reach of his Soul Show, ‘T.C.O.B. (Taking Care Of Business)’, a weekly must listen for pretty much all the people in the region who professed to having their ear to the ground when it came to the latest black music releases – a sizeable audience to say the least. He invited me to put together mixes for the show, the first of their type on UK radio and a major development in my own DJ career. Apart from radio, he was the DJ at a number of important Manchester club nights, at venues including Pips, Rafters, Rufus, Placemate 7 and Legend.
Interview here at electrofunkroots:


At a time when it was extremely rare for a Southern DJ to play up North, and vice-versa, Cleveland was the exception to the rule, a London DJ who became a regular part of the line-up at All-Dayers in cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham etc. This gave him a unique overview of what was happening on both sides of the Watford Gap during the early 80’s period (he talks about this in the interview linked below). Cleveland would bring coach loads up from West London, and was largely responsible for introducing Black Echoes club columnist Lindsay Wesker to the scene in the Midlands and North, which he wrote about with great zeal:


One of the leading lights of the Northern Soul movement, Richard initially made his name at Va-Va’s in Bolton, where he gained major kudos for unearthing one of the scene’s defining tracks, ‘Tainted Love’ by Gloria Jones (subsequently to become a multi-million selling cover version by Soft Cell). Forming one of the most famous DJ partnerships of all, when he hooked up with Russ Winstanley at Wigan Casino, Richard is a Soul aficionado of the highest order. I remember being absolutely staggered when I saw the room in which he housed his record collection back in the early-80’s – I’d never seen so much vinyl meticulously stored in a room at someone’s home.


A triple legend who innovated on the Northern Soul, the Jazz-Funk and the early House scenes in the UK. I can’t think of another DJ who was central to the development of 3 distinct movements – with a whole string of influential residencies during the 70’s and 80’s, including the Golden Torch in Tunstall, Stoke, Blackpool Mecca, Rafters, Berlin and The Playpen in Manchester, and Rock City in Nottingham. Colin is undoubtedly one of the most important contributors to club culture in this country. It’s typical of him that, even as this picture is being taken, he still can’t resist taking a look through the record box to his left. Interview here at electrofunkroots:


The quintessential Manchester DJ, Hewan has been around since the late 70’s when he started out in the Soul room at Pips. He’d become one of the North’s foremost Jazz specialist and a regular at the various All-Dayers in the region. However, his greatest claim to fame is being the original resident at The Haçienda during its formative years. His association with the black scene in Manchester, via clubs like The Gallery, Berlin and The Playpen, as well as Moss Side’s Reno, made him a central figure during the pre-Rave era. Interview at electrofunkroots:


Jonathan (he didn’t DJ under his full name) was a young up-and-comer on the Northern Soul scene, but at a point when it was waning in popularity. As a one-time owner of Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)’ his name is forever a part of Northern Soul folklore – Jonathan paid a then hefty £250 for the record in 1978, selling it 12 months later for a profit of £100 (in 2009 a copy of the single sold for staggering £25,000!), As with many of his contemporaries, he subsequently embraced Jazz-Funk, before steering Nottingham’s Rock City, one of the top clubs of the era, through Electro-Funk and on into Hip Hop and House.

All of these DJ’s are still active to one level or another, in the clubs / on radio – music, especially black music, coursing through their veins. A special breed indeed, and all individuals I have great personal respect for. The very fact I’m in this photograph, alongside these illustrious figures, illustrates the fruition of my personal aspirations from when I set off on my DJ path in the mid-70’s – to eventually be held in high regard as a black music specialist. The company I kept confirmed this.

Quitting as a DJ, 7 months on from when this picture was taken, whilst I was right at the top of my game, and still only 23 years old, was a huge decision, and a somewhat reckless one given I’d left myself no financial safety net if things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped (which invariably they didn’t). Before you ask, as so many have before, ‘why did you pack it in?’, I refer you to the piece I wrote to cover this question, which can only be answered in a multi-layered sort of way:

So rather than dwell on the implications of this decision, and how this impacted, and continues to impact on my life (although much more positively during more recent times), whilst marking this particular anniversary it’s good to raise a glass to my fellow DJ’s back then, both for their individual contributions to the scene and combined passion for the music, plus all the discussion, debate and personal philosophizing I’ve been fortunate to share in their company.

Serving as a musical time capsule, the final installment of my Early 80’s Floorfillers series has just been uploaded. These were my 10 biggest tracks when I called it a day 30 years ago:


1983 Wikipedia:


It Was Back In ’82

One of the defining moments of my DJ career took place exactly 30 years ago, on Monday May 10th 1982, when my first radio mix was broadcast on Mike Shaft’s show, ‘T.C.O.B’ (Taking Care Of Business), on Manchester’s hugely influential Piccadilly Radio, which played a major part in bringing black / dance music to wider attention during the 70’s and ‘80’s – from Soul, Funk and Disco, through Jazz-Funk and Electro, and on into Hip Hop, House and Techno. I go into its rich legacy in greater depth here:

The mix had been recorded a few days earlier, as live, one afternoon at Legend in Manchester (the club closed at the time). Mike Shaft had brought along a Revox B77 reel-to-reel to record onto, the machine being the portable unit of choice throughout the radio industry in this country back then. This was the first time the Revox, which has since played a constant role in my work, entered my life. At the time I had no means to record at home, but by the end of the year, following the runaway success of the mixes, which would subsequently become a regular feature on Piccadilly, I’d purchase a couple of Technics SL1200’s and a Matamp Super Nova mixer (this was at a time when, with the exception of London DJ, Froggy, who used them for his Roadshow, no UK DJ’s had such equipment at home). To top things off I bought my first B77, so I could put together my mixes at home, which would serve to lead me ever-deeper into my obsession with editing. So glory be to Mike Shaft and to Piccadilly Radio for facilitating this life-defining arc of continued discovery.

The reel of ¼ tape onto which that first mix was recorded onto was, as with most of my radio mixes (the final one, ‘The Best Of ‘83’, being aired in December 1983), lost – probably copied over at some point or other, having been stored at the station. I managed to salvage a few of these mastertapes, most importantly ‘The Best Of ’82, but the original mix wasn’t amongst these, and I only had it on an extremely lo-fi cassette recorded from the radio at the time.

As the author / DJ Dave Haslam once said, the mixes “were probably some of the most taped programmes in Manchester radio history”. These tapes would also spread further afield than the Greater Manchester region that Piccadilly broadcasted to, with copies, and copies of copies, finding their way into cassette players and ghetto blasters in all corners of the country, often without people having a clue about their source – this was the ‘mixtape’ in its earliest form from a British perspective. One such recipient of my mixes was Stafford based Pezz, then a 14 year old lad discovering his musical influences, and later of the fabled Nottingham-based soundsystem and DJ collective, DiY, who were amongst the pioneers of the UK free party scene, having formed in 1989.

I’d meet Pezz at the Liverpool offices of 3Beat, the record shop / label he worked for – this was in 2002, 20 years on from when my radio mixes first aired. My DJ comeback was still in the future, and I was very much an obscure name from the past at best, most people of Pezz’s age brought up on a later generation of DJ’s. So his excitement at meeting me was unexpected – he was talking about this tape from back in my Piccadilly days that had made a big impact on him and his friends at the time, as they set off on their own personal dance music odysseys, and asked me if I could identify a couple of the tracks featured (these id’s having eluded them for 2 decades). It turned out that one of his big mates back then was Dean Meredith, later of Bizarre Inc, who enjoyed chart success in the early 90’s, and more recently Chicken Lips (whose ‘He Not In’ I edited on my first ‘Credit To The Edit’ compilation in 2005), and that this tape had been a major influence on the sound of his latter project, which, along with Bizarre Inc, was produced in collaboration with partner Andy Meecham.

Pezz takes up the story in the sleevenotes of a limited run CD (300 copies only) from 2007, to mark the 25th anniversary, which he called ‘It Was Back In ‘82’:

As soon as I’d met Greg, an excited call was made to Dean. ‘…. Hey kid, guess what! I just met Greg Wilson – No way – I need you to send me a copy of the tape up as soon as possible….’ Then came the months of waiting more phone call’s hassling to get a copy before eventually with the bribe of digitally remastering it onto CD it finally arrived!

In the meantime I’d had many conversations with Greg and e-mail’s were exchanged, one of which contained a list of essential Electro-Funk releases. This list was full of records I, and anyone I showed it to, had never heard of, apart from some obvious classic’s such as the Peech Boy’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’, and Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’. When I finally sent him a copy of the tape I’d got from Dean he identified mysterious artists and titles like The Gunchback Boogie Band’s ‘Funn’ and Jimmy Spicer’s ‘The Bubble Bunch’. I began hunting down these tracks on the internet, the first to arrive was Larry Graham’s ‘Sooner Or Later’, and the excitement of finally getting my hands on these tunes was unreal, mindblowing! I hadn’t had such a buzz from buying records in years. A goal was then set to collect every track on the tape. Gradually over the coming weeks all but a handful were found. In the meantime, Greg found the old tracklistings for his first ever mixes for Mike Shaft, which just happened to be the two mixes contained on the legendary tape. I was then able to find all but two tracks, or rather two small drum sections he used in the first of the mixes. Not even Greg can recall where these came from!

Before long it seemed obvious that listening to this 20-year-old tape was not enough. After collecting these, and a host of other early 80’s Electro-Funk releases, I decided that the only thing left to do was to re-create the mixes myself! Rather than just re-do them as Greg did back in ‘82 on the decks at Legends. I decided to use the computer to ensure the tightest of mixes and present them in today’s highly polished manner (I also lifted and cleaned the missing drum parts direct from the tape). The whole concept of taking someone else’s work and re-creating it is quite strange, and actually completing it and then re-presenting it to Greg felt even more bizarre. Thankfully he was really into what I’d done, especially as the original ¼” masters have been lost and, like myself, the only copy of these mixes that Greg had was recorded onto cassette from the radio.

Pezz’s full sleevenotes can be read at:

So, to mark its 30th anniversary, this reconstructed version of my first ever radio mix, which was painstakingly pieced together by Pezz, has now been uploaded onto my SoundCloud.


The mix would be the first of its type on British radio, and following the fantastic response to mix 1, Mike Shaft decided to make it a regular feature, with new mixes every 3-4 weeks. It would have an instant impact in the clubs, with Legend’s attendance, which was already on the up, going through the roof in a matter of weeks. It was a momentous month, which also saw the release of the seminal Electro track, ‘Planet Rock’ (see: http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/articles/when_the_planet_rocked.html) and the opening of a new Manchester club, which I’d DJ at later down the line, called The Haçienda.

My career was about to go into overdrive, and ‘The Greg Wilson Mix’, as Mike, in his distinctive mid-Atlantic drawl, would introduce it, was a major part of this process.

1982 Wikipedia:


Legend – Manchester’s Other Club

For my 100th blog post thought I’d flag up another personal anniversary this month.

Everyone has heard of The Haçienda, but not many people know about Legend, which could well be described as Manchester’s other club of the 80’s – I was fortunate enough to be associated with both.

No matter where I am in the world, people will ask me about The Haçienda – it’s a magical name for so many. They’ll say ‘wow! The Haçienda must have been really something’, and always seem surprised when I tell them that it wasn’t so great, for a variety of reasons, back in ’83 when I was there. The best Manchester club by a long shot at that point in time was Legend, and what a club!

It’s thirty years this month since I took over the Wednesday night there – this would prove to be the defining moment in my DJ career.

My debut night was August 12th 1981, and I’d play every Wednesday up until the end of 1983, when I retired as a DJ. This was with the exception of one night in May ’83 when I was in London for the Blues & Soul awards, where I was named North’s Top DJ, and, to complete a clean sweep, Wigan Pier & Legend, my weekly residencies, placed 1st and 2nd in the club category – I brought in a young DJ called Chad Jackson to cover for me that night. Chad would later go on to be crowned DMC World Mixing Champion in 1987, and score a big hit single with ‘Hear The Drummer Get Wicked’ in 1990.

There were only about 80 people there that first night, almost all of whom were black kids seriously into their music and dancing. The night, originally launched when the club opened almost a year earlier, had previously been successful with Nicky Flavell and then John Grant at the helm. John Grant was one of the big names on the Jazz-Funk scene up North back then, right up there with Colin Curtis and Mike Shaft, who hosted the Piccadilly Radio Soul Show, ‘TCOB’ (Taking Care Of Business). When John Grant defected to a joint Blues & Soul / Piccadilly Radio promotion called The Main Event, that was also held midweek in Manchester, at Placemate 7 (previously seminal Soul venue The Twisted Wheel), the bulk of the audience, which had averaged around the 300 mark, left with him. So, given the success of my Tuesday sessions at Wigan Pier (owned by the same company), I was given a crack at halting the slide before it was too late and all was lost – it was very much last chance saloon for the Wednesday at Legend.

During those first few weeks I would have played a selection of mainly US imports, with some choice UK Jazz-Funk releases thrown in for good measure – for the spotters out there, these would have included: Al Jarreau ‘Roof Garden’ / ‘Easy’ (US LP), Archie Bell ‘Any Time Is Right’ (US 12”), Bob James ‘Sign Of The Times’ (US LP), Central Line ‘Walking Into Sunshine’ (UK 12”), Denroy Morgan ‘I’ll Do Anything For You’ (US 12”), Donald Byrd ‘Love Has Come Around’ (US 12”), Inversions ‘Loco-Moto’ (UK 12”), Keith Diamond Band ‘The Dip’ (US 12”), Level 42 ‘Turn It On’ (UK 12”), Morrissey Mullen ‘Slipstream (UK LP), Rahmlee ‘Think’ (US LP), Richie Cole ‘New York Afternoon’ (US LP), Roy Ayers ‘Land Of Milk And Honey’ (US LP), Shock ‘Let’s Get Crackin’’ (US 12”), Unlimited Touch ‘Searching To Find The One’ (US 12” remix), Vaughan Mason ‘Rockin’ Big Guitar’ (US 12”), War ‘Cinco De Mayo’ (US LP) and Wish ‘Nice And Soft’ (US 12”).

As the above list illustrates, a wide selection of black music was played on the Jazz-Funk scene back then – Soul, Funk, Disco (or what would later be termed Boogie), Jazz-Funk and Jazz Fusion. It was basically the best of the various black music genres (with the exception of Reggae), covering a wide tempo spectrum. These specialist Jazz-Funk nights were as upfront as you could get; meaning that this was where you’d hear stuff that other DJ’s wouldn’t pick up on for weeks, sometimes months, often never – many of these tracks weren’t ever played outside of these nights (and the All-Dayers that were such an important element of the scene), some were never released in the UK. If you had serious aspirations of being a black music specialist in the North there was only one shop to buy your records from – the legendary Spin Inn on Cross Street in Manchester, who imported direct from the US.

Legend (or ‘Legends’ as the black crowd always called it) was a phenomenal club – there’s nothing comparable nowadays, they just don’t make them like that anymore. A quite spectacular environment with its space age metallic décor (15,000 steel cans were spot welded together at different levels to form its unique silver ceiling), especially when the laser was bouncing about off all the reflective surfaces. The sound system was the best I’d ever heard in a club anywhere at that time, the sub-bass (another unique feature back then) would practically punch you in the chest! The lighting was even more impressive than Wigan Pier, which was an achievement in itself. Legend’s own brochure boasted; “A circular dance area raised above the general floor level peppered with 2000 Tivoli lights forms the focal point of this new futuristic disco club, enhanced by the most up-to-date light show tailor-made to the overall design, it includes numerous par 36 lamps, scanner spots, jumbo and scatter strobes, mirror balls, half a mile of neon and a five colour computer controlled laser…The catalogue of lighting effects and laser technology with a full array of 12 channel American control boards gives the light jock plenty of scope to practice his art, The various effects include ‘tumbling’ neon rings on the shiny steel pillars which dominate the standing area, a pin spot light curtain, diversity arms spreading from the centre of the dance area ceiling and principally the 4 watt argon iron laser with an additional dye laser”. Talk about blinded with science!

Like the Pier, it was one of the precious few clubs in the UK to place the emphasis firmly on its sound and lighting, and as such the DJ and light jock were regarded as the companies most valued employees. This was at a time when most clubs’ idea of a lightshow was a few coloured bulbs hooked up to a single sound-to-light unit, so they flashed along in time with the beats. If you were lucky there’d maybe be a handful of pin-spots, some ropelights, a splash of neon, a solitary strobe or a UV strip. It was then an accepted part of the DJ’s job to also control the lighting, and the Pier was the first club I’d worked at which employed a separate light jock. Don’t even get me started on how poor the sound systems generally were back then.

It’s highly likely that Legend would have turned to Mike Shaft in an attempt to revitalize the Wednesday night, but he was also tied into The Main Event so that was a non-starter. Instead they asked me, and I knew I had my work cut out if this wasn’t to be a short lived experience. Although there were so few people in the club, I was instantly aware that those who had turned out were serious music heads. They weren’t really interested in the microphone patter, which was the DJ norm back then in the UK, it was all about the music, and with this in mind I made what would turn out to be a pivotal decision. I resolved to change my approach more towards mixing the records that I played, taking advantage of the fact that Legend had three Technics SL1200’s (the first I’d ever seen in this country). This was a bold move, but one I felt would completely suit the type of audience I hoped to attract. A state-of-the-art venue like Legend demanded a radical new approach to musical presentation and, if we were to turn the tide, it was vital that we not only promoted the club as the superior venue that it undoubtedly was, but that I also set myself apart from all the other DJ’s on the Jazz-Funk scene. It was following this that I became known as ‘a mixing DJ’ – this was at a time when no other DJ’s on the scene in the North were placing the emphasis on mixing, and only Froggy, who’d invested in a pair of 1200’s for his Roadshow, was doing so down South

The first few months at Legend were mainly about damage limitation, and we managed to stabilize the numbers around the 100 mark. I worked alongside resident DJ’s Paul Rae and Ralph Randell during this period, taking the night over completely when they moved across to the Pier on a Wednesday to launch a new Alternative / Futurist night (their Thursday Futurist session at Legend was a major success, and a whole story within itself – many of the original Haçienda crowd would have regularly attended this night). With Paul and Ralph gone I now worked alongside Pier light controller, Paul Vallance, playing every week from 9pm – 2am, and loving every single minute of every week.

The night would eventually take off in a major way, and by May ’82 right up to the time I stopped at the end of ’83 it remained packed to its 500 capacity. There were queue’s right up Princess Street every week, with people travelling in from all over the North and Midlands, and even as far as London – if you didn’t get there early you might not get in at all.

My status as a DJ was elevated from up-and-coming to central, and my controversial championing of the evolving Electro-Funk movement would turn the black music scene on its head, helping create a crossroads from which the old (Soul, Funk, Jazz-Funk) would branch off into the new (Hip Hop, House, Techno). My mixes for Mike Shaft’s Piccadilly Radio show would spread my name, and the music I played, to a much wider audience – things quickly snowballed for me. It was undoubtedly a hybrid era, and Legend was its key venue – Gerald Simpson (aka A Guy Called Gerald) would state that having now played around the globe he’d not experienced a club to rival it, adding that “the atmosphere was something I’ve never ever seen repeated”.

The Haçienda, as we all know, would put Manchester on the map with a worldwide dance audience, but its success owes much to Legend, and other city centre venues associated with the black scene during the 80’s, including The Gallery, The Playpen and Berlin. Haçienda director and New Order bassist, Peter Hook, would say “Wednesday nights (at Legend) were presided over by DJ Greg Wilson, who later would also play a major part in shaping the Haçienda’s musical direction, educating audiences in a new streetwise sound”, whilst Mike Pickering, the club’s booker during the early 80’s, and later half of the Pickering & Park DJ partnership from the clubs golden era, remembered   “At the time Legend was the closest thing to New York”. It was Mike and New Order manager, Rob Gretton, who would approach me to DJ at The Haçienda’s first regular weekly specialist dance sessions, starting on Friday August 19th 1983, almost exactly two years since my Legend debut.

The tradition of black / dance music at Legend would continue throughout the 80’s, with DJ’s like Stu Allan, Colin Curtis, Mike Shaft and Chad Jackson having residencies at one point or another. The famous London Acid-House party Spectrum also held their Manchester events at Legend at the height of the Rave era, whilst the Happy Mondays recorded their videos to both ‘Wrote For Luck’ (1988) and ‘WFL’ (1989) in the club (and not The Haçienda, as many people assume).

‘Wrote For Luck’ & ‘WFL’:


The video for ‘Wrote For Luck’ had the theme of a children’s party, with a multi-racial audience, which seemed to sum up the cultural melting pot that had been stirring in the city for a number of years, whilst I’ll never forget the first time I saw the video to ‘WFL’ – this time the children had been replaced by a club full of what were now termed ‘ravers’. A brilliant visual representation of those early ‘E’ days, perfectly capturing the time and the vibe, this video obviously made a deep impression on me. Seeing the same dancefloor that had been packed with black kids on my nights earlier in the decade, now full of white kids, was hugely symbolic of the way youth culture in this country was changing.

Legend became 5th Avenue in the 90’s, and is still there on Princess Street, although the interior is very different these days:

Undoubtedly the greatest club I’ve ever worked in, Legend, as I’ve previously said, was the place where I experienced my ultimate DJ highs. It doesn’t get any better for someone like myself who started out with aspirations of being a black music specialist, and went on to live the dream.

For further info on Legend and the Electro-Funk era: