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1988 Shoom at FC Cymon Eckel, Spike, Andrew Weatherall
Andrew Weatherall with Cymon Eckel at ShoomDave Swindells

Remembering how Andrew Weatherall landed his first DJ gig in 1988

Jockey Slut co-founder John Burgess’s new book pays tribute to the legendary, late Andrew Weatherall, the nicest man in music

In February 2020, cult DJ and producer Andrew Weatherall died age 56, leaving behind a wealth of memories, both with those who knew him, and those who didn’t but had created their own fables with their friends on the dancefloors he graced over the decades.

Regularly referred to informally as “the soundest man in music”, Weatherall’s untimely death shocked the global music community – he was an inspiration to artists across genres, revered by those he’d worked with over the years and touched with his gentle spirit.

Legendary, defunct UK dance music magazine Jockey Slut recently announced that it would be publishing a book celebrating Weatherall’s life, an 160-page tribute comprised of all his interviews in Jockey Slut, and a 10,000 word oral history featuring testimonies from his collaborators and friends, including Bobby Gillespie and Danny Rampling. All proceeds from the book will go to charities that were close to Weatherall – Amnesty International, Crisis, Multiple Sclerosis Society and Thrombosis UK.

Here, we publish a short Q&A with Jockey Slut co-founder John Burgess and run an extract from the oral history in Andrew Weatherall: A Jockey Slut Tribute, about how he came to land his first DJ gig in 1988 at Shoom, Danny Rampling’s night that kicked off acid house in London.

What inspired you all to put the book together?  

John Burgess: We had been talking about doing something with some of the best Jockey Slut features since we received such a great response to the Jockey Slut Instagram and Facebook last Spring (we post covers, photos, anecdotes and memories). When Andrew passed away in February we decided we wanted to pay tribute to him as he’d featured in the magazine so many times and had helped bring it to wider attention when we started it, he agreed to be on the cover of issue 3 with his top off for an article about his tattoos (“Weatherall Get His Tats Out”).

He always supported us along the way - and encouraged us – he’d give us exclusive interviews when he didn’t want to talk to the more mainstream music press, which was huge for us; a small, independent magazine based in Manchester. When I started to look over everything it felt odd just to cover 1993-2004 when the magazine was published so I did a huge oral history of his early years from the mid-80s to 1993 and then other journalists kindly donated their interviews to cover 2004 to this year. It’s been a real labour of love and testament to him that every journalist and photographer we approached was happy to have their work included, especially as the proceeds will go to the charities Andrew supported.

Andrew died right before 2020 really kicked off. What do you think he'd have made of this year?

John Burgess: I think he would have relished the time it has afforded. It would have been the first time for him in over 30 years away from the coalface (as he often called DJing in clubs). He would have had more time to work on his artwork, to read a ton more books (he was apparently already getting through 100 a year) and perhaps write his memoirs that he’d started collating notes for.

What's your favourite memory of Andrew, something that captures exactly who he was?

John Burgess: He played for us countless times at Jockey Slut’s club night Bugged Out so there are many memories of him playing for us over the years whether it was him headlining our first birthday in 1995 or playing for us on New Years Eve in 2017 and ignoring any showboating through the midnight hour, head down, cool-as-fuck. I posted on the day he passed away that one thing that set him out from many other DJs that have played for us: he always sent me a text the next day after a gig to thank me for it. 

“One thing that set him out from many other DJs that have played for us: he always sent me a text the next day after a gig to thank me for it” – John Burgess

What do you think the legacy is that he's left?

John Burgess: What’s apparent from the book are the countless stories of other musicians and DJs he inspired, helped and supported along the way – his generosity of spirit is writ large. Whether it’s him putting David Holmes’ name as big as his band Sabres Of Paradise to shine a light on David's ‘Smokebelch' remix, to him handing money back to Justin Robertson after playing at his first fledgling clubnight, to making a special exclusive track for Daniel Avery’s Fabric mix (when Daniel had just asked him for anything he may have knocking around).

I also interviewed Martin Brannagan who runs the Flightpath Estate Facebook group and who will continue to add to the Weatherdrive – over 1,000 hours of mixes and radio shows and Sean Johnston about A Love From Outer Space which will also continue his legacy. I think  to many people of the acid house generation he was as important to them as David Bowie, an ever changing constant in their lives from Primal Scream’s ’Screamadelica’, through Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen, to his NTS radio show ‘Music’s Not For Everyone’ (last broadcast in January), to the music he was still making under his own name that is yet to be released.

AN EXTRACT FROM THE ORAL HISTORY IN ANDREW WEATHERALL: A JOCKEY SLUT TRIBUTE

Cymon Eckel (Boy’s Own): Gary Haisman from our crew went to Shoom the second week, Terry went the third week,  I went the fourth week and Andrew came with me on the fifth week. Shoom was absolute mayhem and eye opening. It debunked every former principle of music, art, relationships, how men and women interact, it broke every rule. Going clubbing with Andrew was funny as fuck, we danced all the time. There’s such a mystique about him, but to people close to him – before he became the person behind the decks – it was always fun, quick-fire wit. Even when we were tripping and talking bollocks it was always so funny.

Terry Farley: I got taken to Shoom by Gary Haisman and I explained it to Andrew and he said, ‘That sounds really shit’. I said they played The Beatles’ 'All You Need Is Love’ as the last record and everyone was holding hands. He was, ‘What?!’ Anyway, he came down the next week with Cymon. He was always a bit of a dancer. Me, Steve Mayes, Andrew and Cymon all hung out with different people. Andrew bought the NME lot and people with long hair and leather trousers. Mayes would bring the Happy Mondays, Cymon knew all the King’s Road people like Martin Fry and Bananarama.

Danny Rampling: He came down to Shoom with Terry Farley and I was briefly introduced. He really stood out. I remember him on the dancefloor, he looked very punky with a Seditionaries shirt on from Vivienne Westwood’s store on the King’s Road, and bondage trousers. He looked acid house with the long hair but was a cross between a biker and a punk. He inspired others to dress a certain way who adopted his look. 

Jenni Rampling: I was doing the door and I would have allowed him entrance because he was friends of friends via Boy’s Own. Once inside, I could barely see through all the smoke and dry ice but I do recall that he was dancing and smiling a lot! I don't recall him being very stylish at all – in fact, I think he was anti-fashion.  However, when I look at photos of him in later years, I can see that his 'look' was extremely well co-ordinated. Never predictable, always unique and a bit quirky.

“Me and Genesis P.Orridge walked down the stairs and Andrew was the first person we met. He instantly showed off his Psychic TV tattoo”

Richard Norris: It was very difficult to get into Shoom, but we went down quite early and we brought free T-shirts for people and Jenni let us in. Me and Genesis P.Orridge walked down the stairs and Andrew was the first person we met. He instantly showed off his Psychic TV tattoo. He was a kindred spirit as he knew his alternative music, he didn’t come from the soul scene.

Danny: We went to a party in Islington that Andrew was playing and we sat there for hours talking and really clicked. The party was in a cafe in Chapel Market that started on the Sunday night and went on into the day on Monday, with Andrew playing in the morning. All the core scene were there. There were probably 50 or 60 people there. He was very inspiring, playing leftfield music that was off the beaten path. He influenced a lot of music I played as well, he turned me on to a lot of new music.

“When he played for us at Shoom he never wanted to talk about money. It wasn't his priority, he just loved playing”

Jenni: Danny and Andy both connected over their mutual love for music and were often in their own world at various after parties. I think Andy made Danny laugh a lot and I could hear them acting out comedy scenes. From my point of view, I found him to be quite shy – even when discussing fees. When he played for us at Shoom he never wanted to talk about money. It wasn't his priority, he just loved playing. In some respects, he reminded me a lot of Colin Faver. He had the same passion for music and was equally a genius and extremely humble.

Terry: He first played at Shoom On The Farm. It was a bizarre event, in a dairy farm in the middle of Surrey. We had to get coaches there and it had been raining all day and night. It was cold inside the barn, stunk of milk and they tried to recreate Ibiza by putting on a foam party. This foam and milk and cold…it was quite horrendous. I remember Andrew played Chris & Cosey’s ‘October Love Song’ and it sounded like the best record you’d ever heard at that right time. A lot of people would’ve asked, ‘Who is this playing?’ as he was coming from a different place – 90% of people came from the soul scene and so the records he played were revelations.

Andrew Weatherall: A Jockey Slut Tribute will be published on December 10, 2020. Order it here.