Truly great Management creates successful careers and real long term life changing opportunities. Eddie Gordon.
Two proud, too busy to eat, potless idealists, Eddie 'Ears' Gordon and Steve 'Wolfie' Wallis with American Soul singing star Major Harris of 'Love Won't Let Me Wait' Grammy Fame in the Soul Bowl, 69 High Street, Gravesend 1983. We brought a great deal of real talent to that town over those years folks...Thank you Howdi Binning for believing in our ideas and promises.
In 1983 I started a company called CAMPAR, with Steve Wallis, which stood
for Creative Agency Management Promotion And Representation. We soon
got tired of repeating that mouthful every time the phone rang so abbreviated
it to CAMPAR. We should have added the word 'Ideas' at the end to
then have CAMPARI, but seriously we were full of ideas and that
company soon had a roster of DJ's including Radio London's Robbie
Vincent, Radio London's Jeff Young, Radio Kent's Rod Lucas. Flicks DJ
Colin Hudd and a local Radio wanna-be Pete Tong who personally
requested my services after I beat him in a local Poll for Best DJ by five times more votes. I always was the people's choice because I kept my feet on the ground amongst everybody, still going back 26 years later to DJ at reunions with many of them.
With CAMPAR we created the first dance DJ Agency which as a business now 24 years later is a very profitable way of earning a living if you have the right talent. I went on to manage Jeff Young until he retired from DJ'ing. Jeff became BBC Radio 1's first dance DJ from '87 to '92. He started the real push of dance into mainstream media and deserves the credit for being the original ground-breaking pioneer. The guy who many people should thank and should be awarded an MBE.
Before we continue below, to put somethings into perspective. There are some people you meet in life who suck all the oxygen out of the room for themselves, irrespective of the damage they leave in their trail. I kept my dignity and focus, the other should have kept his dignity in his pants after years of making sure he was safely home to his wife and young children. My Olivia's well-being was ignored. I don't believe that people are bad, to me they are less evolved human beings, they don't have the compassion to know that their dishonesty is the most damaging to those closest to them. Their family, friends and the people who created incredible platforms for their careers...
Pete Tong was managed by me from 1984 until 2004 - 20 years, after he drove round to my house in Gravesend and asked me to be his manager. I was DJing a great deal with the BBC Radio 1 DJ's at the time around the South East of England and also had a full page music column in the UK's biggest selling weekly newspaper The Kent Messenger as well as putting on cool gigs around town.
I had my own engines in overdrive but we shook hands on 10% commission and I set about building opportunies for him. I liked the music he played, thought he was a bit socially awkward but a lot of performers are once they are not on stage where they come alive. Besides I was a bit of a solo guy myself sometimes, so we began the journey with a lot of coverage in The Kent Messenger..
We were both passionate about seeing how far we could push the boundaries of dance music around the world, something that we succeeded with beyond all our expectations with the BBC Millennium crossing the globe playing dance music all day on that never to be lived again moment in history the 2000 Millennium.
I personally persuaded Jeff Young to recommend Tong to BBC Radio 1 when Jeff told me, after a painful bout of shingles due to burning the career candle at both ends, that he was stepping down from the Friday 6pm show in 1992. In truth Jeff was very reluctant to recommend Tong to the BBC after he had never bothered to thanked Jeff for totally lining up the Capital Radio Saturday Night show for him with Richard Park, who had just agreed for Jeff to join the station.
Anyway I persisted on Tong's behalf "if you leave it to the Beeb to choose a DJ for that slot you've established they'll give it to some Dave Double Decks DJ and all your hard work work will be lost these last 4 years, lets keep building on the platform you've created." Jeff relented much to his honour. And what would Tong's career have been without that chivalry and honest conversation between Jeff and myself. When Jeff told the BBC about this guy on Capital Radio, they had never heard of him. If you don't believe all this, ask Jeff, it's the absolute truth.
After Tong got the BBC Radio 1 Friday night slot I then mapped out the UK for Tong to visit all the major UK cities to bring the audience to his show, to put a face to the voice on the radio then personally drove him to every possible dance music club in every town in the UK to build his Radio 1 audience. Bring them to the show..
It wasn't easy, in fact it was very difficult at first as BBC Radio 1 DJs were viewed as very uncool thanks to Harry Enfield's Smashie & Nicey characters on his hit TV show - it left an impression that would result in some big name DJ's losing their gigs on the station around that time. DLT and Simon Bates included.
Identifying Back to Basics in Leeds and Venus in Nottingham as two potential spots I get knocked back on the first call with Dave Beer saying "I don't need no fooking Radio 1 DJ in my club, we play house music mate, not hits."
I then decide to drive the 280 miles round-trip from SW13, London to Venus in Nottingham to speak to the promoter James Bailie in person, I already knew Jonathan Woodliffe, a fantastic DJ from Rock City, who was co-promoting the night so I should get Pete in there as Jon will know of him from London Records, his day time gig and his days writing for Blues & Soul.
Venus blows my calculating mind - its everything we started in the 80's, two rooms of different dance music, big sound, unique decor, a crowd that are having a great time but its so much better because of how the Venus-ites are dressed - after years of seeing punters in jeans, baggy t-shirts and boots or trainers, the Nottingham crowd are dressed to kill, everything from the music to the decor and attitude is super sexy.
James Bailie agrees to try our "Radio 1 lad" on the say so of Jonathan and a date is set. I drive back to London thinking "I'm going back to Venus with or without Pete" - its love at first sight. The fashion and design syllabus at Nottingham University is the best in the country so half the clothes being worn in Venus are self made and after a night of 'ecstatic' dancing, they are falling off, half naked but with huge smiles on their faces. Amazing scenes.
On the night of Tong's Venus debut the first thing James Bailie says to me as we pull up in Pete's 320i BMW is that the place is already full and hundreds of University girls have turned up to see who this guy Tong is. He does his set and lights up the dancefloor. After we hang out with James and the motion is set - we're going to hit every cool club in every town in the UK.
James Bailie lets other promoters know of Tong's pulling power and the calls from me are accepted, we start teaming up with the best promoters all over the country.
Russell and Pete at Progress in Derby, Brian Andrews and Charlie Chester at The Arena in Middlesborough, Lakota in Bristol, Jeff Oates at Renaissance in Stoke and Mansfield, Nigel Blunt in Birmingham, Paul Taylor at Angels in Bolton, Jon Hill at Golden in Stoke, the legendary Ryan brothers at Moneypenny's, Chuff Chuff in Birmingham, Richard Carr at Slinky in Bournemouth, John Digweed in Hastings, Darren, James, Gill and Jim at Cream in Liverpool, David Vincent at Sankey Soap in Manchester, Ricky McGowan at Colours in Edinburgh, the Reid brothers at The Tunnel in Glasgow, The Arches in Glasgow, The Warehouse in Leeds, the Leadmill in Sheffield, Pacha in Rotherham, Scott and Simon at Gatecrasher in Sheffield, the two Barry's at Sugar Shack in Middles-borough - every weekend up the M1, M6, M62, M4 anywhere but London except for the odd Friday night at the Gallery or the Ministry of Sound.
Once that mission was complete I then put him on international Radio in Ibiza, where he told me very firmly he didn't want to play "I'll be in a goldfish bowl" was the comment. Well he is still playing there some 24 years later as well as touring the UK with his Ibiza Classics Show, so he certainly did well out of that bit of persuasion. I also put him on the World stage with a DJ management company I formed in 2000 called IMD to get his first USA gigs in New York.
On Wikipedia Tong keeps altering 'his' history, embelishing it with nonsense. For example Steve Wolfe came up with the now infamous phrase "Its all gone Pete Tong" one night at Kent's Invicta Radio during Tong's weekly Sunday Soul show when the studio phones all rang at the same time for tickets to a weekender competition, Tong cursed while the mic was still on and Wolfie calmed things down with that catchphrase "eh its all gone Pete Tong" in cockney rhyming slang - Wolfie was from the Old Kent Road, its his vernacular - but on Tong's history it was Mark & Lard on BBC Radio 1 - total rubbish! Just ask Wolfie, who Tong ignores now... I saw first hand the cold way he treated Jeff Young, Danny Rampling, Mark Goodier, Froggy, his junior school buddy Tim, Josie James, the guys Tony, John and Terry who orginally got him into soul/disco music instead of playing Status Quo and Brotherhood Of Man as the OHMS Roadshow in New Ash Green, Kent, countless other people too. I was happy to walk away after 20 years. Especially after he totally reneged on our handshake agreement with the Essential Mix Show, which was my idea, directed and produced by me for the first 8 years on BBC Radio 1. An ok DJ but a terribly unfaithful human being. (Below) Tong, May 2004 with my then wife Rachel, romancing in Tokyo, Japan. Best Man at our Wedding too. Get the picture?
I still advice some very good DJ's today but in an advisory sense. I also played a significant part in
the careers of DJ's Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox, Danny Rampling,
Fergie, Seb Fontaine and Danny Howard in my BBC Radio 1 capacity of finding new
talent for the station plus new ideas including the Essential Mix Show and BBC Radio 1 live broadcasts from clubs around the world which lead to the Ibiza explosion from '95 to today, the One World Millennium and the UK Love Parade events introduced by myself (more info on these on the site).
Having started the world's first Dance DJ Agency with Steve and to go on to build one of the world's biggest DJ's with nearly 20 years loyalty, taking him from $200 a gig to $300'000 for one nights DJing - I'm satisfied with my work in that field. The cut and pasted information below is from one of the many differing Tong career history's posted on the world wide web. This one is closest to the facts.
"When Invicta Radio started up in Kent in 1984, Tong joined them to host a regular soul show, where assisted by local Kent journalist/promoter Eddie Gordon of The Kent Messenger he built up a big county profile. Tong stayed at Invicta until 1987. He was then hired by Capital Radio in 1988 at the suggestion of DJ Jeff Young to present a weekly dance program. DJ Jeff Young having initially been offered the slot by Capital went to BBC Radio 1 to broadcast a weekly Friday night show called The Big Beat.
In 1991 Tong returned to national radio after his manager Eddie Gordon talked the then departing DJ Jeff Young into suggesting him to BBC Radio 1 as the ideal replacement for the"hot' Friday night slot. Tong began his long stint as the host of the Essential Selection.
The Essential Selection was a BBC Radio 1 show on Friday nights from 6:00pm-9:00pm in the UK, although this has now been changed. The show is now simply known as Pete Tong and its new time slot is 7:00pm-9:00pm on Fridays. It showcases the latest dance music, with the focus being on house, and informs listeners what club nights are on around the United Kingdom that weekend. It is endorsed by Radio 1 as the official start to the weekend. It attracts one of the highest audiences for a dance radio show in the UK. Pete Tong also hosts a one hour show on Radio 1 on Thursday nights 9:00pm-10:00pm called Pete Tong's In New Music We Trust. Since 1993 Pete has been associated with Radio 1's Essential Mix which airs 2:00am-4:00am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. He is now the station's second longest serving DJ (after Annie Nightingale)."
My very important chat with my main client DJ Jeff Young, the departing BBC Radio 1 DJ, about passing the baton on to Pete to protect the ground-breaking work he had established on the National Radio Station was indeed the essential bit of work for Mr. Tong's career and life onwards...
So onto more positive things.......
Good Morning Eddie,
I have uploaded Knox New York Deep and Soulful 28 - AKA my debut show on www.d3ep.com, this evening at midnight. You made me prepare for this moment, a year and a half ago. And look at this!!! I am just blown away. From here, the most amazing doors will open. I'm reaching out with big, cross country hug and a huge thank you. I would not be here without your help. Add me to the list of Eddie Gordon success stories, because you have done it again.
Best Graham (KNOX) - New York DJ/Producer. July 14th 2017.
DJ Nakadia from Thailand (below)