LES ADAMS

 

Les Adams is one of the most popular and succesful British DJs to have emerged during the 1970s and 1980s. He can still be heard every Saturday evening, on the internet site of Solar Radio, and via the Sky Digital platform number 0129. For this page, he has very kindly answered some questions, and supplied a personal photo.

Where were you born?

Worcester Park in Surrey. My parents still live in the house I was born in!

What was the first record to interest you in black music?

My straight answer to that question is that there wasn't one! I have never thought of music in terms of colour and I can not say there was ever a specific record that got me into any genre. Elvis was white, but he sang
black" r'nb music, Jimi Hendrix was black but he played rock and I bought records by both artists! There are only two kinds of music to me, music I like and music I don’t and that applies to all genres. I actually have more rock records in my library than I do soul! Music is just music to me, regardless of its roots. As a DJ, I play a record because I like it or works well on a dancefloor and I don’t care who made it or where they come from!

Do you recall where you were when you heard it?

If we are talking “black” music generally, I probably would have heard it on Greg Edwards “Soul Spectrum” show on Capital Radio.

Can you remember the first record that you purchased?

First record was The Beatles With The Beatles Album. First "black" record would probably have been "54-46 was my number" by Toots & The Maytals, or "Israelites" by Desmond Dekker. I liked the whole Trojan '60s reggae thing.

What was your life like growing up. Difficult or easy?

Easy as a child and got harder as I grew up and continues to do so!

Where and when was your first amateur gig?

At a youth club called “The Doris Vennor” in Worcester Park as a mobile DJ. I was 15.

And your first professional one?

At a gay club called “Napoleon’s” in

Lancashire Court in London’s west end when I was 23.

Do you have an all time favourite venue from the past and present?

I was the resident DJ at a place called The Sussex in Norbury, South London in the late 1980's. People still talk about that place now. It was just a fun pub, but it had a great vibe and a very appreciative audience.

Do you think that there is/was a difference between gay and straight Nightclubs besides the sexual orientation of the patrons?

Oh yes! Gay clubs seem to be more about having fun and dancing till you drop rather than straight clubs which are often more about drinking till you fall over!

How did you get the opportunity to start remixing?

Through my association with DMC.

The first single you remixed was?

Stomp by The Brothers Johnson. It was a “turntable remix” and was performed using two copies of the vinyl 12” and two Technics decks, recorded onto a Revox open reel tape deck.

Do you continue your production work today?

No

How did your hit record with LA Mix come to fruition?

It was a studio experiment with an Akai S900 sampler using loops and samples from dozens of other records plus a few original keyboard and guitar riffs played by a friend and recorded on a Foxtex 8-Track open reel. The “demo” was played to Mike Sefton, head of A&R for A&M’s dance label “Breakout”. He
loved it and released it as it was.

How did your involvement with Solar Radio during it's pirate days come about?

I was friends with a guy named Paul Buik who was involved with the running of Solar in its pirate days. He asked me to do a show.

Have you been involved with any others stations?

Yes, I have produced radio shows for Radio Luxembourg (Tony Prince’s Disco Mix Express), Capital Radio (The news years eve Capital house party mix), BBC Radio One (new years eve mix shows), Radio Jackie (as a pirate and

 

south London pirate called “Radio Contact”.

How do you remember you days on pirate radio? With affection?

With very much affection. I could play what I wanted and it was illegal! Somehow the threat of being caught, which I was, twice, added to the fun!

In what direction do you see the future of black music going?

Downhill! It is either formulated mechanical backing tracks with interchangeable vocalists who promote sex in their videos more than their music, or the underground “real soul” that appeals to a very niche market and hasn’t progressed in 30 years. I call the current pop R'nB music "Gucci music" because it has become a fashion accessory to the young kids who buy it. Half of them don't even know what the "R" and the "B" stand for, but they can tell you who they fancy or which artists is shagging who!! I mean for God's sake what is "Akon" all about?! Dreary soul-less nonsense! Play Otis Redding's "I've been loving you too long" to the average teenager and they wouldn't get it or appreciate the performance. The rest of our young British youth seem to be into gangster rap and all the violence and sexual
exploitation that goes with it. They aren’t saying anything that NWA didn’t say better and with more genuine conviction and talent in the 80’s. It’s about the dollars, the wheels, the “bitches” and “hoe’s” now.

Do you still teach music technology?

No

Are you a graduate in anything yourself?

Only life!

Deepest gratitude to Les Adams for some very illuminating answers.