The soul discretion
His radio show the Soul Spectrum launched the
careers of the O’Jays and the Three Degrees but DJ Greg Edwards
would not be caught within a mile of a station now. Ahead of a live
set in Kent, he spoke to Chris Price.
Charlie Brooks is the Queen of the Jungle, James Arthur won X
Factor and Kent’s Julian Clary topped the pile on Celebrity Big
Brother – but it is all lost on Greg Edwards.
“While the moon is still orbiting the Earth, you will not find
me doing something like that,” said the ex-Capital and Radio 1 DJ
in his slow, deep New Yorker voice.
“I cannot think of anything more abhorrent, stupid or
ridiculous,” he continued, mystified as ever about reality shows
and today’s culture of celebrity.
It is all a far cry from the 1970s and 1980s, when he used play
soul and funk records to millions and walked corridors with the
likes of Kenny Everett, Peter Young and Chris Tarrant.
“I loved radio in those days,” said Greg, who described himself
as a “very old teenager,” who still plays three or four live DJ
sets a month.
“I enjoyed the process of hearing music and sharing it with
like-minded people, unlike most DJs today who enjoy the thrill of
being on the radio. Now, radio is like today’s celebrity culture,
where people want to be known and that was never something that
“We just wanted to be creative and share. We were all like
brothers and sisters. We got on incredibly well. Although we had
people who became successful at Capital, no one walked around with
their nose in the air, being a star. There was just an incredible
amount of talent.”
It was that talent which made Greg essential listening for
lovers of black music, right through to his last radio gig at Jazz
FM in the 1990s. He has given up the airwaves because of the
celebrity culture he makes no secret of despising. He presented Top
of the Pops a couple of times at the height of his fame but
insisted TV did not capture his imagination or that of his Captial
“Although Kenny Everett did TV he did it only with people he
liked,” he said. “If you had put him with a different set of
writers or producers he would not have done it. The desire to be on
TV was not important. Us older ones were of a different ilk to the
youngsters whose motivation is instant gratification.”
Born in Grenada and raised in New York, Greg came to the UK in
1971 to help the running of the Philadelphia International record
label, founded by writer-producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. “I
took care of Earth, Wind and Fire, Lou Rawls and Johnny Nash,” he
said. “In those days black music was more varied. Today it is just
R&B and rap but the artists I covered didn’t sound anything
like each other.”
That was part of the reason for calling his Capital Radio show
the Soul Spectrum. He said: “The press liked to lump things
together, like NME for rock and the Record Mirror for pop music. If
I’m asked what kind of music something is and I say ‘black music,’
journalists say ‘like Motown?’ and I say ‘no’ and then they say
‘oh, like James Brown?’ and I say no again. The title of my show
was a deliberate thing to show the spectrum of black music. I
wanted people to know what they would be getting.”
It was also a reaction to what he considered arrogance from
producers at Radio 1, who did not allow him control of what he
“It was important to me to let listeners hear it because jazz
and soul were not given much coverage by the BBC. They were very
snotty and looked down at me when I said people should be listening
to Miles Davis on my show. They said it wasn’t jazz and I just
thought ‘who are they?’ I had a bunch of white people in suits
criticising and determining what black music was.”
Today, Greg chooses to deliver soul and funk at clubs and bars,
including his set at Banks this weekend, which he agreed to play
after getting a call from his old colleague and ex-Radio 1 jock
Jeff Young, who supports him on the night. “It is nice that people
still want to party with me,” he said.
Greg Edwards will DJ at Maidstone's Banks Bar on Saturday,
December 22. Support from Jeff Young and Paul Clark. Tickets £15.
Call 01622 676799 to book.
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