It was by sheer chance that I became a DJ in the first place. I had managed a couple of groups (Foot-Tappers / Chosen Few) and in early 1965 happened to meet Ernie the new owner of the Gaytime Club on Broad Street in Salford, where the group had previously done a gig. Records at the club at the time were played on a juke box, on the stage normally used by the groups.
I was asked by Ernie to sort out the order of play and liven things up a bit, so I rigged up a microphone and a volume control on a long cable and stood in front of the jukebox. The secret was to remember the records that were going to be played and talk whilst the machine changed them behind me! After a while I got things down to a fine art and the crowds went from strength to strength. Eventually we could afford to buy some proper DJ equipment. In late 1966 Ernie went on to take over the Limit Club in Middleton and for a while I did guest spots there as well.
Eventually agents became interested in me and gigs were taken on for a number of them, most notably Roy D Spencer Associates. Bookings came in for Handforth Civic Hall, Worsley Court House and many more venues across the region. One such booking was on board the Royal Iris, for an evening disco cruise down the Mersey, when unfortunately the ship suddenly hit choppy waters!! What was not fastened down was all over the place, and I finished up trying to keep the music playing by holding the decks level. !!!
Around this time I was often booked for two shows a night. It was not unusual to do an early disco in Stockport and a late show in Rawtenstall, and I finished up employing a roadie.
I also became very friendly with the Phoenix City Smash and worked with the band on many occasions - notably that highly regular gig at Wilbraham High School (once a month, every month for life - or so it felt at the time).
Ken and Keith Fairhurst (Chosen Few) catch up October 2010
Eventually I was asked to do some residences, first of which was the Pop Inn on Platt Lane in Rusholme owned by Dougie Flood, before moving on in 1969 to Browns in Stretford. Renamed the Inn Place, I was the manager when Jimmy Ruffin appeared live on stage for a memorable evening everyone in Stretford will remember. Kevin Lane and Tommy Brown turned up, and upon seeing the crowds queuing round the block, Tommy nearly caused Kevin to knock the local lamppost down in his excitement.
I worked at The Inn Place and Uncle Toms Cabin in both Little Hulton and Darwen nr Blackburn again sometimes doing two shows a night. On one occasion in Darwen I appeared alongside Kenny Everet in one of his crazy shows, on a night no one present could ever forget!
Eventually I met up with my old pal from the group years Brian Tomlinson (Chosen Few-Phoenix City Smash Band) and together we bought the Inn Place from Tommy Brown, along with the Big Apple Disco in Farnworth and Bumpers in Salford. At the same time I still continued to do late spots for other clubs like VaVa’s in Bolton Town Centre.
I also ran a record shop and market stalls alongside Kevin Lane. As the coffee club era drew to a close we sold the clubs, after which Brian moved to North Wales with his parents. I also sold the record shop, to concentrate on my other activities.
In 1974 an offer by Paul Ingham at Sounds Entertainments, saw me involved in providing entertainment/door staff and operational expertise, to a number of Bass Charrington pubs across the northwest. We went on to provide this service in many pubs and a nightclub in Coventry. Notably the most popular disco venture was the Highwayman pub in Warrington, whilst the most popular pub for cabaret was the Horseshoe in Little Hulton.
The Phoenix pub on Oxford Rd in Manchester was close to the student population, and for their lunchtime entertainment we put on a disco with some rather racy go-go girls. Needless to say it was standing room only most sessions. The contract came to an end in 1979 with a change in entertainment policy by a new management team at Bass, although I personally was asked to stay on with my work. At the time I refused on principal which in hindsight was probably the wrong move, as shortly afterwards I decided to leave Sounds behind and seek pastures new.
For a couple of years I was in demand sorting out failing privately owned pubs and clubs, but put this period down as my “dark age”. The owners came to expect miracles from me where they had failed miserably.
I was on a hiding to nothing really, and although I saved a pub/disco in Stockport from folding I consider this time in my professional life less than fulfilling.
From ’82 onwards my mind was made up to start takings things a little easier, so I bought some equipment and joined the Unit One Disco agency in Salford. Until 1987 when I was forced by ill health to retire from the business, I once again enjoyed success as one of the most in demand dj’s on the books. I cornered the market in golf club/sports club/cabaret club bookings and was in constant demand for private functions.
I have occasionally since retiring, done some charity work for local junior football clubs, organising and presenting their presentation nights, but generally now have more time to reminisce and appreciate on what was the magic of the sixties.