José Padilla / Picking Up The Pieces One Year On

Andy Wilson from Ibiza Sonica contacted me around a week ago. The radio station have a big José Padilla tribute planned for this Wednesday. Andy said, “I`m sure I don’t need to remind you, but it`s been a year since José died.” To be honest, he did have to remind me. As I’ve mentioned in a few posts over the last couple of months, everyone`s got shit on, and that includes me. I`ve been “distracted” with trying to keep my family on track. Plus pandemic time flies by so quickly, when social restrictions mean that it becomes harder to “mark”, make each day memorable. Twelve months has gone in a blink. Yesterday I took a day for José, and day to stop and think. 

When José passed away on the evening of October 18th, 2020, I wrote about his life, his legacy, his influence on me, and a little of my experiences at the Cafe del Mar. All of which went up on the blog, and which Faith Fanzine also kindly republished. At the same time I put together two 6-hour mixes, which Dean “Sunshine” Smith then broadcast the following Sunday on his Isolation Station. To do this I trawled a stack of scraps of paper, track-lists and known Cafe del Mar favourites, drawn up by friends on the DJHistory forum – Richard “Moonboots” Bithell, Jolyon Green, “Lilac Camel” – and tons of tunes cribbed from conversations with Cantoma`s Phil Mison. Phil, like Andy, is one of the true guardians of José`s flame, and folks would do well to remember that. All of my “knowledge” – admittedly collected over decades – at the very least is second hand, gained only through the generosity of experts and aficionados.

I ended up with a list of 280 tracks – and these were just the ones that I physically owned. That number has since gone up a little, as I’ve continued to pick up vinyl, as I’ve become  privy to more secrets. I then cut that down, to focus on the ones I knew where José`s, and not Phil`s. By including Papa Padilla`s productions this still left me with 197 songs – 17.6 hours of music according to iTunes. 

The first 6-hour mix, I carefully planned. It had a definite beginning and end. Starting with Frank Fischer`s Cafe del Mar, and finishing with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra`s Music For A Found Harmonium. Deliberately travelling from film scores and new age, the Innovative Communications label, to the ECM imprint, jazz, and soul, before closing with some stone cold classics. Tunes that every “balearic” home should have. 

When I sent this to Dean, he said, “Oh mate that`s great, thank you, but I`m gonna make a day of it. Can you maybe do another one.” I could and I did, and I did it pissed. Up drinking through the Friday night. Unplanned, but taking a similar route, though diverting to include a lot more pop – music from chart-topping people like Annie Lennox, Chris Isaak, and Everything But The Girl. This time the first thing you hear are the helicopter rotors of Vangelis` Chung Ku, while the final track is Pink Floyd`s Wish You Were Here – a song that was pretty fucking poignant to be begin with – penned for poor Syd Barrett by his band mates – which I heard José spin and speak about in a radio interview. Recounting how it soundtracked his inaugural White Isle sunset, dropping acid on a beach with beautiful “French hippie chicks”.

The mixes were broadcast at midday Greenwich Mean Time, which meant from 8PM here in Japan. I`d been booked for an early evening gig in Tokyo, at Two Rooms in Aoyama, which turned, of course, into a tribute to José. So when the “shows” started I was on sitting on a shinkansen, heading back to the mountains. Tuned-in, and on Facebook, I shared memories and track-IDs. Making it a super emotional ride. Back indoors, I decided to sack Monday, and “keep it locked” for Part 2. My kids hate school anyway. I was drinking and texting, crying, drinking, texting, and crying some more. Cathartic`s not the right word, but I`d spent the whole week with José`s music, and when it was over I did feel kinda washed out, hollow. Goodness knows how those who actually knew him felt.

Having done all this “prep”, I figured I`d try to put it to good use. So I loaded all 280 “Cafe del Mar classics” on to a USB stick, telling myself that I`d never have to worry about “programming” another sunset / chill-out set again. But then the pandemic and lock-downs continued, and those sunset / chill-out gigs have yet to re-materialize…

In reflection – and personally here’s the real rub – in 2020 we lost both José Padilla, and Andrew Weatherall, and in the process of commemorating them, pulling records that they’d released, and turned me onto, from my shelves, surrounded – and I mean fucking surrounded – by the resulting piles and piles of vinyl, across every conceivable genre, I was faced with the immeasurable impact that obsessively fan-boying them had made on me as a DJ. Did I have any tunes of “my own”, or was I simply cataloguing other`s greatness. Maybe, perhaps, there’s no harm in that. Hopefully it’ll help stop their incredible importance from being forgotten. 

I`ve also put two new mixes together for Andy / Ibiza Sonica`s tribute – it was an absolute honour to be asked – again, of music that José either produced, or championed. The first is mellow, and guess under the circumstances, a little melancholic. Largely segueing between movie soundtracks that I couldn’t fit in before. Standout exceptions being Dr L Subramaniam`s Offering Of Love – a tip from Jolyon – and Jon & Vangelis` I Hear You Now – a tune that The Sheppey`s Mark Hey told me will always remind him of the Cafe del Mar and José.

The second is significantly more upbeat, something that I felt was really important to do, to remind folks that José was not simply a “chill-out” DJ, that he frequently played house sets, and actually made his name – back in the late `70s – rocking the dance-floor of Es Paradis. So I’ve popped tracks by the likes of Ice-T, The Idjut Boys, and Karen Ramirez, the Psychedelic Research Lab, in amongst personal favourites from José`s own productions – specifically his collaboration with Mark Barrott`s International Feel. 

On Wednesday, October 20th, you can tune into Andy Wilson & Ibiza Sonica`s 24-hour tribute to José Padilla by clicking here.

Andy Wilson Ibiza Sonica Jose Padilla

Picture of José care of Andy Wilson.

5 thoughts on “José Padilla / Picking Up The Pieces One Year On

  1. Thanks for posting those again, Rob. Listening to the first one, I told myself not to worry about knowing what every track was, just soak it up and enjoy it. Then heard those gently chimes and thought “I think this is Vangelis!! I recognized a lot of others of course, but just let them drift in and out. In 2015 I ordered Jose’s little Ibiza Classic Sunset mix from a Discogs seller in Spain. It arrived signed with “Para James, love + music,Jose”. I treasure it. Forever King of the Sunset.


  2. Thanks Rob and just read that Lilac Camel article which was simply wonderful and agree with so many of the sentiments. Love these, you are appreciated!


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