Hey there and thanks for visiting The Pleasuredome.
I wanted to be a DJ as soon as I knew the job existed.
By the time I was 16 I had teamed up with a school mate to do mobile discos, but lugging tonnes of disco gear around all hours of the night was no fun (the gear was heavy and bulky in the 80s!).
So by the age of 20 I had landed residencies in clubs and pubs in my home town of Southend-On-Sea. All I needed to carry then were two boxes of records and a microphone (that’s more like it).
A career spanning more than 10 years as a professional DJ followed. During the 1980s and 90s I was resident DJ at venues such as Dr Zhivago’s, Electric Blue, High Society, The Sam Lords, The Zero 6, and Radio Top Shop.
Across the River Thames in Kent I worked at Nero’s 2000 (Ramsgate) and Woody’s at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey (I think Jim Vail was the manager. A straight talker and a great guy).
Woody’s was a former Ritz cinema that was converted into a nightclub that has since been pulled down (as has Nero’s I believe).
Nero’s (which went on to become First Impressions) was a great club that had been opened in the 70s and removed its Saturday Night Fever style flashing lights dance floor just before the hit movie came out (ouch!).
I was there in the mid 80s and among the guest appearances I hosted was John Altman, he was at the height of his fame as Eastender’s naughty Nick Cotton. He was great fun to work with. Christopher Quinten (Coronation St) was not quite as easy going though.
My first taste of radio was at Southend Hospital Radio, where I volunteered for 10 years (1978-88). Back then hospital radio was a common route to professional work in the industry. Nowadays there are more avenues, such as community and internet radio (good to see).
One night I was asked to DJ at the Top Man/Top Shop record store in Southend on Saturdays (hi Leigh). This led to a full time job as a Radio Top Shop DJ (couldn’t believe my luck – thanks Jim).
I managed the instore closed circuit station and presented shows most days. Jobs included selling advertising, making jingles, writing and producing commercials, station IDs, managing the DJ roster and of course presenting shows. All great experiences – loved every minute.
For a few years it was Top Shop during the day, and clubs and pubs at night. It was full on!
Later work included shifts in the newsroom at BBC Essex and Essex FM, and I presented the breakfast show on Basildon Radio (getting up at 4am for a 6am kick-off was not fun though).
I have fond memories of Dr Zhivago’s nightclub in Southend’s Chartwell Square (see photos below). Second rate light show, ancient fixed speed turntables (one ran slightly faster than the other), a vintage mixer and your shoes would stick to the carpet – but boy what a great place it was – the atmosphere!
When 2000-plus people poured in on Friday and Saturday nights you knew it was going to be a party.
Joe Lucy hired me. But his successor told me the club only played ‘white music’. No Michael Jackson then? I carried on as normal and played what I and the club goers wanted. That manager was replaced by the eccentric Steve McGlone (who went on to open High Society, and employ me to work there).
Turns out I was probably the first DJ to play garage and house music at Zhivago’s – the cost of imported 12-inch 45s from the US was horrendous – but the music got the place pumping. When a 12-inch single cost 79 pence, I was paying £3 or more for an import.
Us 80s DJs were in our glory as emerging digital technology offered us a whole new set of tools to mix and enhance the tracks we played.
We were beat mixing and sampling snippets from long forgotten classics to build on the floor-fillers – live and unrehearsed in front of thousands of people. You had to be there…
In 1989 I got a residency at the Zero 6 in Aviation Way, Southend, which had been renamed as The Zero Discotheque. This was one The Top Nightclubs in the district – John Budge hired me (although his proper job was in ad sales at the Basildon Yellow Advertiser).
Every DJ had their favourite record store and mine was The Golden Disc in Queens Road, Southend. Long gone now though… It had great staff (hi Karen) who would often hand me a pile of records when I went in – they just knew what I needed.
Over the years I have lost touch with my old running mates. So here are some shout outs to Nigel Ball, Dwight Wizard, Geoff (the voice) Cullen, Paul Lovett, Tony (megamixer) Glass, Dave Davies (Black Diamond Roadshows), Paul Bright, Robbie Dee, David Furneaux, Steve Cochrane, Paul Bright, Martin Ward, and Adrian (magic man) Fox.
Any photos of the venues mentioned would be welcomed…Send me a message using the feedback form.