New, Old, Undiscovered or World Renowned, The Five Records You Can Always Turn To
Continuing the series of music articles in which individuals select five records particularly special to them, we today feature Tony Prince’s own selections and present the latest instalment of Tuck Magazine’s ‘The Greatest Beats of Your Heart’.
Known throughout the world as a DJ and innovator since the early sixties, Tony Prince has not only rubbed shoulders with but has also influenced the greatest of the greats.
We travel back to 1959 where Tony famously borrowed a pair of cowboy boots from a certain Richard ‘Ringo Starr’ Starkey to enter a singing contest at a Butlins Holiday Camp, which he subsequently won, giving him the opportunity to meet a group of musicians from Oldham who invited him to be lead singer of their band The Jasons.
Fate soon however struck as one night Tony filled in for a Disc Jockey who failed to appear and he has never looked back since.
Tony joined the Top Rank organisation in 1962 touring the country’s venues as a DJ, later becoming a television presenter on the ‘Discs-a-Gogo’ show. In 1965 he joined the pirate radio station Radio Caroline on a ship in the Irish Sea, developing his personality as ‘Your Royal Ruler’.
Following the Marine Offences Act’s banning of pirate radio in the UK, Tony joined Radio Luxembourg in 1968 where he became part of the station’s historic first live broadcast team. Tony went on to DJ for the station for a number of years, eventually becoming Director of Programmes and Promotions from 1976 to 1983.
Here Tony changed the format of the station’s shows, introducing disco and soul more to each programme, including the groundbreaking ‘Disco Mix Club Show’ the world’s first music mixing format to feature club DJ creations. It was here that the word ‘Megamix’ was first used to describe the mixing of tracks.
In 1983, inspired by the DJ mixes, Tony left his radio career behind to launch DMC, (The Disco Mix Club), a DJ record subscription club after obtaining the world’s first ever license from the music industry to permit mixing music and sales to DJs and club managers. For the music industry the club provided free record promotion, for the DJs, ready made mixes in a day and age when many had yet to learn the art.
In addition to creating the monthly ‘Mixmag’ magazine and in turn a new breed of DJ and club culture, Tony through DMC launched the World DJ Championships, which is now in its fourth decade, boasting a list of legendary winners from its inception.
The Championship has also expanded to a global internet staged Online DJ Championships for which 2015 marks the event’s fourth season.
As well as producing ‘The History of DJ‘ TV series, Tony has also written a book with Jan Sestak due for publication in 2016 entitled ‘Making Waves’ based on his experiences on the radio airwaves.
As Tony says “Wotta choice. Five tunes only when my life and love is teeming with music, I love it all but hey, let’s give it a go.” Here therefore are Tony’s selections and thoughts on each:
1. Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956) RCA Records
I agree with John Lennon who said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing”! I had just become a teenager when Radio Luxembourg lit my fuse.
I soon had his photograph on my bedroom wall. Many years later I met him twice and not only do I have photos of us standing together, the same photo is on his wall, (in his Trophy Room’ at Gracelands).
I owe my life to Elvis Presley.
2. The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963) Parlophone
In 1962 I’d left my Oldham group The Jasons to join a Top Rank 15 piece orchestra as vocalist/guitarist. One night the manager asked me if I would play the records when the band took it’s break. He also used me as a sounding board to choose bands to play live at the venue. I’d seen The Beatles on TV singing ‘Love me do’ which tickled the charts. When I heard ‘Please Please Me’, I urged him to book them.
They arrived at Oldham’s Top Rank Astoria the night of the day they received a telegram from Maurice Kinn, the editor of the New Music Express congratulating them for going to number one.
I will never forget that night. It was the birth of Beatlemania.
3. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman (1966) Columbia Records
My two years on the pirate ship Radio Caroline are awash with musical favourites. I could obviously cite The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Them and of course The Rolling Stones, but I have to pay homage to Dylan who, like Elvis and The Beatles, was truly original and unique.
4. The Who – My Generation (1965) Brunswick
“…I hope I die before I get old”…which was easy to say back then but it provided the fire in the belly of new rock and the division between mods on scooters and rockers on the rampage.
It was a game changer and bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and, eventually, Jimi Hendrix, lifted the decibels even further maintaining Britain’s global domination as the source for originality and creativity. Keith Moon was a friend and Chas Chandler, former Animals bass player who went on to manager Jimi, is also a pal I miss very much.
5. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982) Epic Records
I ended 16 amazing DJ years with Radio Luxembourg to start my own company DMC (Disco Mix Club) in February 1983. We were the first licensed subscription label for DJs and began the whole mixing and remixing whola, accompanying their monthly records was our magazine Mixmag.
By April Epic Records came to me to see if we could help them to promote Michael’s latest album. We created the Michael Jackson Megamix which went out to our thousands of DJ members, also featured him on the front page. So Michael has to be the fifth in this list which, because I have far too many favourites, represents my tip-of-the-hat to musicians I am eternally grateful to.