The Lost Years
After working for peanuts for so long I was truly glad to get away from town. Ok there was bits of it I missed, the club music, the girls, the other DJs, but then I thought if you miss things that much you can always go back. I still done the odd night here & there, but for me Rebeccas had a quality of its own [sentiment I suppose].
One of the good things about not working in clubs anymore was the fact that I'd got my weekends back . When I worked the clubs It was Thursday , Friday & Saturday getting home at 4 in the morning & staying in bed most of the weekend . Even with a wedding on a Saturday evening I could be home by 11 / 12 o clock & either retire to bed or socialise . 9 times out of 10 it was the later . About a mile or so from home was an Irish club " The Gary Owen "......that was open all night & a lot of my mates would frequent the place . If I wasn't working I'd go to a few pubs around Small Heath ( a pub on every corner back then ) with a couple of mates . It was actually a good way of doing business back then . Sometimes on my way home the lure of loud bass & reggae would draw me into someones house . In them days the West Indian community held what was known as Blues parties.....you'd enter the house.....it would smell of cannabis & anything you required you paid for .....can of Red Stripe 5 Bob.......Pre rolled spliff 5 Bob.......Plate of Goat curry 5 Bob......that's how it was....proper good old days .
In my day time job I was beginning to earn good money, infact if I worked a weekend the money was better than doing gigs. But like most people you need a balance in your life & being a DJ swung that balance perfectly. I kicked off by investing a bit more money into the mobile setup.....I was getting £10/ £12 a night by now less a few quid to my Dad for running me about. The music had become a bit crazy...T Rex.....Slade....etc....there had also been a revival in Northern Soul & Motown, which gave me a chance to get a few records that had eluded me for years, the reggae thing was in full swing as well and my musical upbringing leaned heavilly on that lovely Jamaican vibe. I could now afford to buy more good music, mainly updating my back catalogue, & I had time to socialise a bit more,
So the mobile career took off, gigs flowed in, my Dad took me everywhere, i'd never bothered to learn to drive, I still cycled to work. Finally I took the plunge, past my test & purchased a van. The gigs came in ...weddings, birthdays, football presentations, I don't think i've ever done a funeral yet!....you name it i've done it.
In the back of my mind I was never really happy doing this work, the money was ok, I met some nice people, but I never set out to be playing 'The Birdie Song' & The Hokey Cokey. Dance music was happening .....Hamilton Bohannon, The Blackbyrds....do you remember 'Bus Stop, Bus Stop, Are You Ready Do the Bus Stop' by the Fatback Band ....this is what I wanted to play, mix all this in with my Motown, Northern & a bit of Reggae....magic. At that time i'd had a few pub residencies The Tyburn in Erdington, it was a pub from the last century, but we could never really compete with the likes of the Trade Winds just up the road, it was a reletively new pub slap bang in the centre of a housing estate [ plenty of punters within walking distance ]. I'd done my local, The Monica, The Bulls Head in Yardley to name but a few but these places had all seen better days.
I just sort of drifted on, doing weddings, parties, the odd crap residency.....did I still want to do this....by then I realised I could go out & earn a couple of hundred quid doing a plumbing job on the weekend. I'd got no ambition to go back to nightclubs, even though Pat Martin had assured me that the money was a lot better. Yes I failed to say that I still saw these people from my past from time to time Pat, Tubby Stanley, Bob Russell, Sam T, i'd even bumped into Barry John a few times [ doing gigs over Tamworth ] Did I want to continue, yes I think I did, but at 25 years of age I was getting old [that's how my mind worked]. Parts of being a DJ I liked & yes I needed the balance in my life,' think back to when you were 17, you devised a plan', 'Mr 15 minutes'. But you don't want to do the club work anymore.....well I'd been to a few pubs where the've had good discos. That was it, back to getting out & about,. check the opposition out.....one problem with this plan tho' ...you can't take a ton of gear into a pub & do a 15 minute audition....nice thought.
I'd almost given up at that point, I was just drifting, at weddings I was sick of my own voice. Gigs at this point had slowed up, I'd just give up chasing work, I just done what come in via old contacts & the odd night up town. I started going out more, checking out pub DJs [couldn't help it], I still went up town from time to time, Pat Martin was still around, I bumped into Sam T once or twice at the Romulus & Barbarellas. An old mate of mine ran a pub in Small Heath & some Saturdays if I wasn't working we'd jump in his Jag at the end of the night & go clubbing in Manchester. I quite liked the scene up there, it reminded me of when I first started working in clubs plus the fact they opened till 6 in the morning. Clubland was still a great place to be, but I was happy to do them gigs once in a blue moon. Any DJ will tell you, you have possibly 2 hours of prime time in an evening & the rest of the evening can be hard work. That's what I liked in Manchester, they had 2 or 3 DJs covering one night ( bit like Saturday nights at Rebeccas with me & Tubby Stanley & Pete King with the headline band ).
After a few years I had a new enthusiasm about me, weddings & parties had changed, musically that is. Waltzes & Quicksteps had gone, Rock & Roll was on the scrapheap, the age gap between the young & old had narrowed. Mom, Granny & daughter seemed to be all dancing to the same tune. That suited me I didn't even do one nighters up town anymore, 7 to 11 that suited me. My next step was updating my jaded, outdated, discosound gear.
I started off looking at what gear was on offer, it looked like a bit of a minefield to me. I've never dealt much with mail order because it was too much hastle if you had to send anything back, but the choice of shops selling Disco equipment in & around Brum were far & few between.