If you think that star DJs mixing records for the entertainment of thousands of club-goers is a new thing, then think again.
Colin Curtis has been doing it for more than 50 years – although he admits the money wasn’t quite as good in his early days.
The likes of ‘superstar DJs’ Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Louie Vega earn millions, flying around the world to perform at clubs for upwards of £10,000 a night.
Colin was paid £10 for his first all-nighter at The Golden Torch in Stoke-on-Trent, but this was history in the making. He became a hugely influential DJ and one of the most important on the northern soul scene in the Midlands and North West.
And he’s credited with being one of the first DJs to introduce mixing.
Colin is still going strong at the decks at 66 and is now bringing some of his huge record collection to Birmingham Town Hall on May 25, to headline the fourth Big Birmingham Soul Night.
He’ll be playing classic northern soul on original vinyl in the main hall, while there’s a mix of mod, soul, funk and disco in the second room. The bill includes Pep, Neil Rushton, Richard Priest and Mazzy Snape.
Colin’s from Stoke-on-Trent and has been a regular visitor to Birmingham.
He spent hours searching for records at Reddington’s, Oasis and The Diskery, then hours more spinning them at city clubs like the Locarno, Chaplin’s, the Hummingbird and Rum Runner.
I loved getting lost in Oasis, that fabulous mix of shops for records, fashion and gadgets. The Locarno had northern soul in the main room and jazz funk in the far room – it was called Bali Hai and was covered in palm trees.
“I’d go to Tiffany’s in Halesowen on a Thursday night and the Rum Runner on Broad Street on Mondays.
“Duran Duran would often be rehearsing upstairs. I remember chatting to the bass player, John Taylor, and lent him a couple of albums of Inner City jazz. I never got them back!
“More recently I’ve DJed in Birmingham at the Night Owl in Digbeth. There’s a huge following for northern soul now in the West Midlands.
“It’s great to play iconic venues like the Town Hall. We were laughed out of places like Blackpool Tower in the 1970s but now we’re the establishment!
I’ve transcended all the styles over the years. I started out with R&B and soul in the 1960s, then northern soul in the 70s, then jazz funk and house. I keep moving forwards.
Colin currently owns around 15,000 records on vinyl and 10,000 CDs, down from his peak of 60,000.
As well as introducing mixing to British nightclubs, he was one of the first to play the new wave of house music and hip hop coming from Chicago in the 1980s.
Colin has always been an innovator. He set up a computer games business and now produces a weekly podcast with the latest releases.
You can catch Colin Curtis at the Big Birmingham Soul Night in Birmingham Town Hall on May 25.