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Gravesend to The Grammy's


My life has many chapters and passages, all interlinked by a strong passion for music which really began thanks to my Mother and Step-Father constantly having music alive in the house, probably to bury the noise created by a house full of kids running around, as we grew up.

A diet of music so varied from Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Ink Spots, Motown with Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations, the Mama's & Papa's, Simon & Garfunkel, my Mum's Soul albums, the Radio always on in the morning, Sunday night Top 40 countdown on Radio 1, Dad singing Give Me Land Lots Of Land But Don't Fence Me In or Nat King Cole's 'Mona Lisa' in the car, all setting a life long impression, some say obsession but a good one never the less.

One stand out song is "Nature Boy" by eden ahbez which kind of mirrored my life in music. I discovered recently that my step-Dad Doug spent a couple of years in Southern California during the mid to late 50's when Nate King Cole was all over the AM radio stations of the era which explains his desire to sing Nat King Cole songs when ever he was in a good mood or driving, no-doubt remembering his days in the Californian sunshine with the radio blasting in his car. I can relate to that :-)

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy
And sad of eye
But very wise, Was he

And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved, In return"

My life in my home town Gravesend was exceptional in as much as I felt I 'knew' the majority of the 92'000 population by the time I was 32 years old due to going dancing and DJ'ing in the town for nearly 15 years playing to all ages in every hall or club be it my own promoted nights or the first ever BBC Radio 1 nights at Woodville Halls Civic Centre with 1500 teenagers going nuts or Birthday parties, Weddings and Under 18's nights over the years.

The love I received from the town was an amazing experience and I now look back with fond gratitude that I was raised in Gravesend because it had a unique love of music. Many times over the years DJ's who were not from Gravesend have made a comment about loving playing in the area because "the people really know their music." Odd really because it was such an uncompromising industrial town on the river Thames, but like the cities of Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami, Nashville and New York or The Bronx - there was something in the spirit of the people who lived in Gravesend that demanded cool and interesting music.

Some of the biggest players in the UK music industry these last 20 years were born and raised like myself in Gravesend and certainly every DJ worthy of note these last 20 years has come willingly to play to the town's unique music lovers. The reason I believe for this raw talent being raised in one town was because there was no big commercial nightclub opened 7 nights a week to go to. The local authorities would never grant a late night license to the organisations to keep control of the town's people at night. So as history shows the people find their own way instead - under the radar - you can't stop the music. The town's DJ's found venue's in the surrounding villages or on the edge of town and built their own nights all over the area thus creating a myriad of different musical tastes and an entrepreneurial spirit to presenting music entertainment.

As touched on, the people of Gravesend grew up loving their multi diet of Soul, Funk, Jazz and Reggae music, they fully embraced the new Hip Hop, House, Rave, Drum & Bass era's and would vote with their feet if you tried to be too obvious with commercial music. To be born as a DJ in this attitude where the unexpected was required kept you fully on your toes musically.

From being a Gravesend DJ to the Grammy's. My work took that Gravesend music spirit and swept it around the planet lighting up a revolution called Dance Music with the birth of the longest running mix program in world Radio, the weekly BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix Show my idea (and produced by me for the first 8 years) now 20 years on the BBC and worldwide. Also my work as Pete Tong's manager for 20 years from '84 put him on his BBC Radio 1 mantle to speak to the world about dance music these last 22 years and took the music from the town to all corners of the Globe and look at that revolution now - truly a $6 Billion yearly industry.

These last 9 years in Los Angeles, I have been lucky enough to be included on the USA Grammy panel for Electronic Dance Music in Los Angeles, California. Helping to pick the winners every year. In 2014 Daft Punk with Georgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers, was one set of Grammy winners that came out of our room. Which was a full circle moment as 17 years earlier I featured them on the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix Show in 1997 when they were still an unknown act except for a few industry sets of ears.

As I sit here I can reflect back with gratitude at the extraordinary opportunities that I have been blessed with over the years and the wonderful people who have allowed me to assist their work in the music business. I would like to give a special mention to the following for allowing me to work directly with their music in no particular order Lamont Dozier, Lonnie Liston Smith, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Dina Carroll, Eternal, Lisa Stansfield, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, En Vogue, Quincy Jones, Maurice White and Earth Wind & Fire. Anybody who knows my music love's will tell you that list of luminary's would cover a wish list for me personally. As I said, I've been a very lucky guy.

Along the various paths I have traveled the world met some incredible people and received a lot of love for which I am deeply thankful and there are many people I have to thank across the varied parts of my work from DJ'ing, to journalism, to remixing records, working for record companies, my work for BBC Radio 1 and the life of an international music business person right up to date with the digital era we now live in, so I have attempted to remember as much as I could by separating the stages as they progressed.

I have a few theories on life having journeyed this far and they must be viewed as my personal take on the confusion that is life in today's world which is ruled by money and not, unfortunately, the love of living. Some of these views will not be accepted by others, some will be expanded upon and some will give you pause for thought before rejecting out of hand or whole heartily agreeing.

I have tried hard to hold to my motto "of smile at your successes but be sure to shake hands with your mistakes too" and be an honest human by personally thanking all that have helped me along the way, especially those dear to me, including Gabor and Anita from Hungary who painstakingly built this platform for me to tell my story. My vision as usual is focused on the horizon rather than staring down at my shoes and its this focus that has got me this far in life, a blessed life.

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That's Olivia (8 years old) feet in the ocean, watching the sun setting on the Malibu mountains in California - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree with her and me. The wonderment of music and nature..



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