Unsung heroes # 1 – Mr Chris Hill

9 Jan

Unsung heroes # 1 - Mr Chris Hill

So why pick Chris Hill as the first of my heroes, when the idea of now attending an event like the one pictured above makes me a feel a cold, creeping dread (though I’d have sold my entire family to have gone to the Royalty (which is where I think the above beauty was taken) or Caister in their late 70s hayday)? Well, let me count the ways:

1) He played soul records in dodgy Essex pubs in the early 70s to Ford car workers who’s only previous experience of black culture was probably the late (un)lamented ‘Black and White Minstrels Show’. From ‘Mammy’ to ‘The Hustle’ in one (not so) easy jump.

2) He used to start his sets off in the aforementioned pubs with ‘Milestones’ by Miles Davis so he could clear the dancefloor and then build it up again!

3) He talked on the mic in clubs (try doing that you Dalston laptop fiddlers).

4) He ran a series of seasonal ads in ‘Blues and Soul’ magazine featuring himself with scantily clad models with bylines such as ‘A Merry Chris Hill-mas and A Happy Nude Rear’ (…stay with me)

5) He was a complete populist: he wanted you to dance to a record you’d never heard of on a Saturday night, hum it all day Sunday, and go out on a Monday to try and buy it. All because he loved that music and wanted to share his tastes.

6) Because the club culture we have now wouldn’t be the same without the ‘originals’.  And they’ve largely been written out of the story.

So I’d say he’s definitely up for re-evaluation from the caricatured figure he’s become of Caister reunions and foam fights in clubs (though those ‘Blues and Soul’ ads are still hard to explain away…).  Spangly disco hats off, and rare groove ‘Donny’ caps doffed, to Mr Hill!

To get feel of what the Goldmine was like on a Saturday night this is an excerpt from a feature on the ‘Tube’ from about 1984 – well past it’s prime but you still get a flavour:

And this gives a good overview of Chris’s contribution to the British music scene:


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