Greg Wilson – “Jive Turkey was a bridge between what came before and what came after”

Greg Wilson by Nick Mizen 2022 3
nick mizen

Greg Wilson is no stranger to Sheffield and the city features prominently in his new book, which details an oft-forgotten era that sowed the seeds of the rave generation.

This period of the mid 80’s and 90’s will be celebrated musically at Sydney & Matilda on Saturday 1st April with support from local stalwart DJ and producer Winston Hazel. The evening also includes the opportunity to hear Greg talk about the stories detailed in this beautifully illustrated tome.

Greg, tell us about the tour you’re about to embark on with a unique night out in different cities.

Well I have a book right now called Disco Archives. Going back, it stems from a series I did for DJ Magazine several years ago, where I picked four different categories of classic DJ records, a classic label, and a classic venue. I basically wrote a page on each one. Then came the idea of ​​putting it in book form. During lockdown, I made a limited edition paperback that went flying. And at that moment I made the decision to extend its hardcover releases.

What is expected at the Sheffield appointment on April 1?

The main aspect of the book is that it covers the pre-rave era and goes all the way to the mid 80’s. I don’t take it beyond that. There are a lot of books written about what happened to raves and the events afterward, so I just wanted to lay the foundation for what club culture is and where it came from. This goes back to the 60’s and then settled through the 70’s to the early 80’s.

So, regarding Sheffield, we’re talking about Jive Turkey, which was a club in the mid-80s, which was a bridge, really, between what came before and what came after. It was a club that was very connected to the scene. I was part of the black music scene that revolved around all day events and club nights. It was a really big counterculture that was going on.

GB All Dayers SAS May 1983

Flyer for GB All Dayers SAS, May 1983.

I DJed at Wigan and Wigan Pier and Manchester at Legend. These were two great nights on the scene. I played in Sheffield several times during 1982-1983. So Jive Türkiye interconnected all these scenes. For example, if there was an all day event in Sheffield, there would be DJs from Manchester and maybe Nottingham, local DJs from each area. Different people would bring coach loads, traveling from different places. It was a real kind of meeting and cross-pollinating of ideas.

When you get into the lineage of club culture, you talk about what happened in the south and you talk about what happened in the north, but the north also includes a lot of the Midlands. And that’s the scene we’re a part of. You realize all sorts of things happen on the road.

And in Sheffield, this came with Jive Turkey, with Winston (Hazel) and Parrot, the DJs, and tonight was part of this, shall we say, ‘older’ scene that would soon evolve into new directions that were going on. – hip hop, house and techno. Jive Türkiye would top it and also be a major club at the start of the rave era.

What is the format for the evening of April 1?

Basically, there are two aspects to the night. First it will be a talk about a book. It’s going to be a Q&A about the book and its content, but then we’ll bring in Winston Hazel, one of Jive Turkey’s DJs, and talk more specifically about Sheffield and Sheffield’s lineage.

I am aware that Sheffield has a deep lineage in this culture. It goes back to things like King Mojo in the ’60s, which was one of the major Mod clubs in the north, run by Pete Stringfellow of course. There was Samantha’s in the ’70s, with Northern Soul back then. Besides Jive Turkey, you have the Leadmill which opened in the ’80s. I played there at Everyday as well as The Limit.

winston hazel

Sheffield DJ and producer Winston Hazel.

Sheffield has this deep lineage to black music culture that I’m talking about because that was what it was then. And that’s why he relates to things like King Mojo, because back then the DJs in that scene were getting their records from the US, so they were importing them, they were opening up the import channels.

You have been a part of this scene for many years. Why publish the book now?

The history of things is very important to me. I stopped DJing for 20 years from 1983. 2003 was when I came back. Within all that gap I was always involved in music. He produced and managed bands. But it was a world of ups and downs, a roller coaster existence, as it is for many musicians and people in creative areas. Eventually, the internet came along, and I got involved with it, and I started to see a lot of things being written about the history of dance culture.

While that was really interesting to read, at the same time there were huge parts missing. And the main part that was missing was what black kids were doing back then. And black kids are on the cusp of things, they were always into the latest music, dancing. In our scene, this specialized music scene, if you have a black audience, you were doing well because they were serious about music and all that. And so they wouldn’t come to a club where a DJ wasn’t playing the music they wanted to hear. So the black scene in general has been like a bit of a disconnect.

People aren’t fully aware of it because when the rave hit, it hit with such force. It was a big explosion. It was this massive thing. Took the subway all the way over the surface. A lot of people walked in at that time, took an ecstasy tab, and decided they liked this ‘dance music’. Whereas maybe a few months before, they were like, ‘That’s not for me. They were in independent bands or whatever. Many people entered the scene again.

Greg Wilson's Disco Files

Greg Wilson’s Discotheque Archives is “a treasure chest of the best in dance music culture,” according to Irvine Welsh.

This was supposed to have come back from Ibiza somehow. For many years many people understood this story, this is an Ibiza narrative or myth: DJs went there, took ecstasy, saw Alfredo play and then brought it all back. They brought back all that Balearic spirit and certainly brought ecstasy back into the spotlight. It was a very important moment. But house music was already in place. Nobody brought house music back.

You’ve always had your finger on the pulse. How do you do it?

In the book, as a motto, it says ‘to know the future you must first know the past’. He has always interested me in the culture of what he did, that he was a DJ. He was deep into it. When I started I was 15 years old. I was going to London when I was 16, 17, I was getting records from all the record companies, I knew what was going on. And I think because you know what’s going on, you can make forecasts.

I always had ideas of where it might lead, whether it was the little club in my hometown where I just had to, over a period of about nine months, change the vibe from just being a plain night with pop from the charts and stuff like that, from All of a sudden, we’re adding some information. This is before going to what I call the big pond, which was Wigan Pier and Legend, which were right in the middle of the scene. This was just my backwater club.

But I always had that kind of ambition. I went to a club in Liverpool when I was 16 called Timepiece. It was a predominantly black club and it was the first environment I was in where, as a white male, I was in the minority.

I was moved by the whole experience because of the music and the dance. I was on a different level. There was some kind of movement on the dance floor that you just didn’t see. I thought, ‘This is what I aspire to, to be a part of a scene like this.’ Fortunately, five years later, he was at Legend in Manchester. That was my watch, you know.


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