50th anniversary bash to celebrate a golden era for DJ Colin Curtis

THERE will be a 50th anniversary show next month to mark the contribution legendary Madeley-born DJ Colin Curtis has made to the local music scene and beyond. 

It was as a teenager in the swinging Sixties that Colin, pictured right, was first switched on to music through listening to offshore radio stations such as Radio Caroline and listening to Tamla Motown records.

He then became interested in collecting black American music through attending Northern Soul all-nighters at clubs such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and much closer to home, the Golden Torch in Tunstall.

Colin then began DJ-ing in the late 1960’s, firstly at the Crystal Ballroom in Newcastle-under-Lyme, before later becoming part of the resident line-up at the famous Golden Torch all-nighters, which included other popular DJs Tony Jebb, Ian Levine and Keith Minshull.

After the Golden Torch closed in 1973, Colin began a weekly residency at the Mecca Highland Room soul nights in Blackpool and was joined by fellow DJ and collector Ian Levine in a partnership which lasted until 1978.

The Curtis/Levine duo are noted for successfully introducing contemporary styles of African-American music such as disco, funk and jazz funk onto their Highland Room playlists and, as a result, the creation of a split in the Northern Soul movement which led to the parallel modern soul.

Levine and Curtis are also credited with being amongst the first DJs to introduce mixing to British nightclubs. This technique, which had been pioneered by DJ Francis Grasso in the clubs of New York City, enabled the DJ to create a non-stop sequence of records.

In September 1978, after quitting his weekly spot at the Blackpool Mecca, Colin began a residency at Rafter nightclub in Manchester where his playlists continued to include soul and disco but leaned more heavily towards jazz funk and fusion. 

He also continued to DJ at all-day soul festival events at venues such as the Manchester Ritz and the Blackpool Mecca, regularly playing before crowds of between 1500 to 3000 people.

Around the years 1982 to 1983, whilst continuing to DJ at events around the country, he began to move towards more exclusively jazz sets at clubs such as Berlin in Manchester and is credited as pioneering the UK jazz dance dance scene in the North of England.

In the mid-1980s, Colin became interested in the latest developments in dance music emanating from the US including New York electro and hip hop and the first wave of house music from Chicago, typified by artists such Chip E, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley and Farley Jackmaster Funk. 

In 1986 Colin became one of the earliest British DJs to play these records at venues such as Rock City in Nottingham alongside DJs such as Johnathon, Greg Wilson, Graeme Park and Simon Bassline Smith.

It was at the end of the 1980s, Colin went into semi-retirement from his DJ-ing career due to a spell of bad health.

 In the early 1990s he concentrated on his computer games business but since that time he has resumed his DJ-ing career, playing Northern Soul and jazz funk ‘revival’ sets at various venues such as the Ruby Lounge in Manchester and the King Georges Hall in Blackburn.

In August 2010 he played two sets in the 1970s-themed Soul Casino arena and 1980s-themed Warehouse arena at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival.

To celebrate Colin’s 50 years’ contribution to the music scene Freesylin’ Promotions are presenting a 12-hour show at the North Stafford Hotel, Stoke on Saturday, August 25, from 2pm until 2am. featuring the legend himself together with Pep, Soul Sam, Keith Minshull and special guest Nige Brown. Admission is £10 on the door.