Interview / Colin Hudd

Colin Hudd is a legend.  A veteran, who’s still spinning and still making tunes, but another DJ who doesn’t really get the props he deserves. A contemporary, and close compadre of the equally legendary Dr. Bob Jones, Colin started out in the `70s, playing strictly soul. However, by the end of the `80s he was one of the few DJs championing house music in the capital. It was Colin, for example, who, alongside Trevor Fung,  brought house to the Caister Soul Weekenders. In 1988 Colin was one of the residents at the acid house shrine that was Spectrum, and he was central to Paul Oakenfold`s plan to tour the “brand” country-wide. In 1990 Colin, using the alias Audio Deluxe, co-produced the bona fide balearic classic 60 Seconds. But as the `90s progressed he seemed to disappear, or at least fall out of fashion – only to then resurface in 2018 to help Oakenfold and Nancy Noise mix 3 CDs worth of balearic and house history in celebration of the Second Summer Of Love`s 30th anniversary. Colin`s story isn’t really out there. I`ll admit that this short interview barely skims the surface, but it hopefully serves as a “primer” for the memoir that Colin`s currently working on…..

Where are you from, and where are you based?

Born in Tilbury, Essex. I live in Thurrock, in Essex now, and with my partner in Sheppey, in Kent. 

When did you start DJing, and what made you start? 

In around 1970. I was going to clubs that at the time, and they all had go-go dancers. I loved the music, as did my partner, so I suggested that I get some DJ equipment and she become my dancer. The problem was that I was the only person who got booked.

Was it a particular club, party or person that made you start? 

I visited a lot of Wheatley Taverns, and was impressed by guys playing import 7” records. Two of my favourite DJs at the time were Steve Wood, Terry Ray – and on radio it was Emperor Rosko.

colin hudd Emperor Rosko

Emperor Rosko

Where were your first gigs? 

My first gig was in Bata’s Hotel Ballroom. I played in between a band performances. There were 2 slots, back then – because of the musicians union clubs had to have a band on. 

What kind of music were you into / playing?

I was bought up on rock & roll via my eldest brother – The Beatles and The Stones. When I started to DJ I moved into soul – which I still love – and in around 1985 I fell in love with house music. I still get booked for both – sometimes separately – but I always love to hear and play a mix of both.

When did you first start DJing at the Dartford club, Flicks? A group of us would travel over from Scamps / Easy Street in Croydon, around the time Luther Vandross` Never Too Much was a hit – I can remember seeing the video there – was this before you were there?

I started at Flicks 1978 – December 22nd – and stayed there until the summer of 1987. So I was there for almost a decade. 

How did you first get the gig there?

A girlfriend told me about a licensing application she’d seen in the local Dartford paper – regarding the opening of a new club. I sent in an application, and the owner came to watch me working at a club I was playing at called Wings in Northfleet, in Kent. He offered me the residency there and then.

The sound system in Flicks was amazing. Did you have a hand in designing it? 

Yes. Originally it was not great. The owner, Mike Keam, and myself went to New York in the early `80s and checked out the clubs there, places like the Paradise Garage. When we returned we went for a great new sound system. The bass bin we had put in was called Big Bertha.

Is it true that your nickname at the time was “Captain Hornblower” due to you blowing the speaker horns?

No. My nickname was “Mouth Of The South” – because back then you had to talk  between records and connect with the audience. I used to heckle and take the piss a lot.

colin hudd flicks refit

Flicks after the re-fit

What nights of the week did you play, and how long were your sets?

I used to work 4 – 5 nights a week – DJ on Tuesday for the night Teen Scene, manage Monday nights – which were Rusty Egan’s New Romantic events – managed Wednesdays  – the over 25’s night – and then DJ on Friday and Saturday 10.30 till 2AM both nights. I had a warm up DJ from 8 till 10.30 on these nights. To be honest I can’t quite remember what the licensing laws were like back then. 

COLIN HUDD ROBBIE VINCENT

Colin, Robbie Vincent, and Womack & Womack

Who were the other resident DJs at Flicks?

Robbie Vincent and Jeff Young did Thursdays, and later on in the `80s, Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong did Mondays for a year or so, after Rusty left to go to The Camden Palace. Eventually I took over Thursdays, until I left in 87.

COLIN HUDD NICKY HOLLOWAY TREVOR FUNG PETE TONG

Colin, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Trevor Fung….

How did the music change over the time you were there?

We were mainly a cutting edge soul / funk club, playing imports and promos. We had a very trendy upmarket crowd, and we were always breaking new music. I`d moved into mixing more, so when the first early house records came along, I was mixing these in with everything else. I loved it.

Were there “acid house” nights held at Flicks?

They did put on acid house nights there a couple of years after I left. By then I was already working Spectrum and Land Of Oz

Were the “soul” crowds at Flicks resistant to house music?

No, because my “normal” sets could be quite experimental. They were used to hearing new things. 

Where were you buying your records? 

I used to mainly go to Groove records in Soho, City Sounds on Old Holborn street. and a local friend`s shop, Brickhouse Records, in Grays Essex.

colin hudd groove records

Groove Records

You were also involved in the soul weekenders, events like Caister. Can you tell me more about those?

I did a few Caisters in the early `80s, but I was always working at Flicks on Fridays and Saturdays, so I was only added to the bill when they went over more than just 3 days. In 1988 I was booked for the Caister relaunch with Trevor Fung and we bought house music to the event. Some moaned but most loved it.

Were the Caister crowd surprised when you started playing house? You hear stories of riots taking place when house was played to rare groove and hip hop audiences in London. 

No riots. In the main, they loved it. A few of the DJs weren`t impressed but the crowd were receptive, and a lot them were into house by then anyway.

COLIN HUDD YING YANG EDIT

Colin and Trevor (I love this photo).

When and what was your introduction to balearic and acid house?

I introduced myself to acid house whilst shopping for tunes in London in around 1985, but the Balearic sounds came from Paul and Trevor. 

Can you remember the first house record you heard?

I think it was something by Marshall Jefferson.

Why did you leave Flicks? Was it to concentrate on Spectrum, Land Of Oz and Legends?

I’m sure it was over money, but it was time to leave. It had been a long stint, and then came Spectrum.

Was Spectrum a bit of a shock compared to Flicks?

Only a shock in as much that it was just the sort of music I now loved to play and everyone was into it.

How did you get the gig at Spectrum / Land Of Oz?

Paul Oakenfold – Oakey – was an old friend. He’d DJed for me at Flicks for a year 1983 after Robbie Vincent left – he was doing a kind of new romantic thing with Pete Tong – Tongy. They’d both been regulars, as punters, at Flicks on a Thursday night since the late `70s. Sometime in 1987 Oaky came round my house in Grays – we always played each other new music we were into – and I played him a load of house tunes. Back then a lot of the other jocks were still playing hip hop. 

A year later, in `88, I got a phone call from Oakey asking me to come to Heaven and play “all that stuff” he`d heard at my house – and just mix not talk. This was Spectrum. Later that year Trevor and I took Spectrum to Manchester every Monday night. I used to cover for Johnny Walker at Spectrum, at Heaven, some Mondays but most Mondays I was with Trevor in Manchester, doing Spectrum at a club up there called Legends. Oakey knew loads of DJs by then – who would all take turns spinning at Spectrum – me, Trevor, Carl Cox, Tony Wilson….In 1989, after The Sun did their “evils of acid house” piece, Spectrum changed its name to Land Of Oz and Oakey invited me to work with him every Monday at Heaven from then on.

colin hudd land of oz 2

Did you go to Future and Shoom?

I DJed at Future, but I never went to Shoom.

I recently interviewed Mark Hey about The Sunrooms in Southend. Can you tell anything about Heart – the party you did together in Southend? 

A couple called Will Hutton and Deb Hillairet were coming along to Spectrum – and loved it. They asked me to get involved at Heart on Fridays. It was very underground and great.

colin hudd heart flyer

How does Legends – in London – fit into the story?

In 1988 Oakey told me about a gig he couldn’t do anymore in London, Klub Trick, at Legends, on Old Burlington Street. He asked me if I fancied it. I went to meet the promoter, Paul Dennis, and we clicked. It was struggling at the beginning, so I said to Paul “Do you want me to help fill it?” We rammed it the next week with all my Southend / Essex friends, and we were off. It was the best Saturday night in London. 

colin hudd Legends Old Burlington Street

Legends, 29-30 Old Burlington Street.

How long did Legends run for? Were you playing mainly house?

I was at Legends for 3-4 years. It was mainly house and balearic.

Did the crowd at Legends differ significantly from that at Spectrum / Land Of Oz?

It was a more upmarket crowd, and a lot of celebrities. 

Land Of Oz stopped in late `89, what did you do next?

I was now into production. I made my first 2 tunes as Manic MCs – Mental and The Beat. I was also doing Friday night at Heaven – playing US Garage – and guesting all over the country.

Were you involved in Perfecto?

Yes I had a track come out with Nigel Champion We Are Not Alone and did several remixes for Oakey with Nigel under the banner of HHC.

There are a couple of photos on Facebook of you and Paul DJing at Wembley – was this a U2 gig?

Yes. We played stadiums throughout Europe, Berlin, Oviado, Verona, Nijmegen, Wembley – as support on the Zooropa tour. We did 20 dates.  

colin hudd U2

What kind of music were you playing? 

We called it “Stadium Music”. Depending on which artists we were in between it went from funk, soul, house, and indie rock. It varied from gig to gig. 

colin hudd wembley 2colin hudd wembley 3

Did you continue to make music?

Yes – most recently we’ve released tunes called Strings Of Love, Its No Surprise, By You, and the “Charlotte Sparkle Mix” of a track called Shine.

When the story of balearic / acid house gets told you rarely get a mention. Do you have any idea why that is? 

Well, I went on the missing list for a while when I was becoming a piss-head, during my recovery maybe I missed the boat…that and I probably pissed some folk off along the way – but I have to own that in my recovery.

Are you still DJing? 

Yes prior to the pandemic I had a lot of gigs, and weekenders, home and away. I’m also on Stomp Radio every Saturday from 4 to 7PM. My show is called “The Rhythm Method”. I do a 3 hour live mix.

Can you tell me more about Stomp?

Stomp started in 1986 as a pirate station, and then in 2009 it became one of the first online soul stations.

Who else is involved?

The original team are Scott James, Phil Roberts and Keith Richards, but check out the station site for full listings.

Where do the Flicks reunions take place, and when are you hoping to hold the next one?

Next one is due December 20th, but maybe held back until 2021 – due to COVID of course.

colin hudd portrait 2

If you want an idea of how progressive Colin`s “soul” programming was at Flicks you only need to pop over to the Flicks Facebook page. A very quick “scroll” gave me this amazing list……

Julia & Company – Breaking Down

Laid Back – White Horse

Evan Rogers – Secret Love

Tia Monae – Don’t Keep Me Waiting

De De – S&M

Roz Ryan – Boy Where Have You Been?

Special Delivery – This Kind Of Love

Invisible Mans Band – Love Can’t Come

Michelle Wallace – Jazzy Rhythm

Funk Deluxe – Tender Lovin

Miroslav Vitous  – New York City

El Coco – Lets Get Together

Direct Drive – Times Running Out

Paul Simpson – Use Me Lose Me

I Level – Give Me

New Jersey Connection – Love Don’t Come Easy

War – War Is Coming

Shalamar – Make That Move

Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack – Back Together Again

Sha Lor – I`m In Love

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