Roger Beard is one of the folks who helped shape “balearic”, in London, back in the late `80s, whose story, for whatever reason rarely, if not never, gets told.
Through a friendship with Paul Oakenfold and Ian St. Paul, that pre-dates the pair’s famous 1987 Ibiza trip, Roger became the resident DJ at Spectrum and then Land Of Oz. Not playing acid and house to the main room at Heaven, but providing an alternative score, upstairs, and in the mezzanine Star Bar. Not chill-out, but mid-tempo`d, and with a psychedelic, rocky-edge. Given a remit of absolutely anything goes – as long as it contrasted with what was happening on the packed and pumping downstairs dance floor — Roger`s “far out” selections, however, as you will see, gradually worked their way in to a canon of tracks that are now accepted as classics. There`s also an argument to be made that Roger`s sets were instrumental in a general slowing of balearic BPMs – to 96 – in around 1990. Roger, honestly, has so many stories to tell, and with no current investment in the dance music industry, he’s down to earth, candid, and apparently ego-free. When I sent a draft of this interview to respected White Isle guru, Phil Mison, he said, “Mate, that’s real balearic inner circle stuff.”
It`s important to point out that Roger has, on and off, lived on a bus since 1982, and he’s a “traveller”, a veteran of the free-festival scene. His adventures taking in solstices at Stonehenge (he was at 1985`s Battle Of The Beanfield), the beginnings of Glastonbury, Greenham Common anti-nuclear protests, and the Peace Convoy. Earning him the nickname, Roger “The Hippie”.
All photos are from Roger`s scrapbook.
Where are you from, and where are you based? When did you first get interested / involved in music? Where does your nickname, Roger “The Hippie” come from?
So I was born in 1949..I lived in Streatham until I was 12..no father..I was brought up by my mother and her aunt – My great aunt who was unmarried and the Queen`s dressmaker..she was Hardy Amies chief fitter. I went to Westminster City Grammar in September 1960. An interesting thing about the school was that the kids were from all over London, and by 1963 quite a few were becoming mods..I moved to Cheam in 1962. Musically I started to get into r&b, soul, and bluebeat, from around 1963. The school streamed you according to “ability”, and after the first year I went into the bottom stream – C – which was where all the interesting kids were. We all wanted long hair. Two kids in my class got suspended for refusing to cut their hair. They both went to the Evening Standard with their stories and got full page articles. It was a really big deal in 1965. So when I left school Easter `66 I was a mod mutating into a beatnik. Kids in my class had hung out with the beatniks in St Ives so I hitched down there and spent a summer dossing around. The talk among the older beats was India…”England was finished”. By the end of `66 the media had rebranded us as hippies. Now, I live on a bus in Cornwall. I bought my first bus in 1982 – I wanted it for the Stonehenge Festival. It was a 1962 Bristol, with an Albion engine, which I found in Exchange & Mart for 300 quid. It was from an old primary school in Hertfordshire. The kids called her, Nelly. I was after a VW Camper, but the cheapest was 600.
There`s a little film of me on YouTube. An old friend`s daughter – Ellie Morgan – who was doing a project about new age travellers at film school interviewed me. I didn’t realise that she would put it on YouTube…it’s called Tales Of A ‘New Age’ Traveller – From The Peace Convoy To Acid House.
I sent you that picture of the Stonehenge Free Festival. That was 1974. The main act that year was called Zorch – a couple of guys doing very intense stuff with synths, until someone tripped over the generator cable and unplugged them. Stonehenge often had electronic music playing. The first time I heard What Time Is Love? by The KLF I thought, this is pure Stonehenge music.
Did you ever do “The Hippie Trail”?
In March 1968 I set off to hitchhike to India. I was 18. I ended up in Istanbul for a month, where I got given some Owsley Blue Cheer acid. I came up inside the Blue Mosque at prayer time. I finally got to India in 1972, overland, on budget bus from London to Delhi for £39. I arrived in India at the beginning of April. It was mega hot. I was in Goa by August, for the monsoon. There were just a handful of hippies there then. I left in September to go back overland to Europe.
I flew out again in November `74. Then got boat from Bombay to Goa. I lived in a teepee made out of coconut leaves on the beach in South Anjuna. There was a beach party every night from Christmas Eve until New Year. There was lots of free acid. There was a little bamboo stage with fairy lights. There were guitars and amps, which people had brought overland, but no one brought a drum kit so they hired an Indian kit, which looked odd cos it was very small. Everyone sat smoking chillums, coming up on the acid, watching the guys on stage arguing over who got to be lead guitarist. Then they would play Sympathy For The Devil…again…and again.
I returned to Goa once more in 1984, with my new partner, and I was really looking forward to partying. We`d heard rumours of a party in North Anjuna taking place on Christmas Eve, so we set off from Baga, waded the river, and climbed the hill overlooking Anjuna. Spotting fireworks going off at the north end of the beach we decided to drop the acid we were holding. This was probably a mistake. We had Superman blotters which were very strong. Trudging through the sand, Anjuna Beach seemed endless, but eventually we found the party at a bar, I think called Strakoz, but unlike `74 – with a stage and a band – this was more like a disco and the music was like nothing I had heard before…early electro, which, to be honest, didn’t work for me with the acid. I remember moaning afterwards that whatever drug you needed to get into this new party music I hadn’t had it yet…some Canadians who were Goa regulars were using MDA but I never got to try it..
Back in London, did you go to the first Future, and the first Shoom?
I didn’t go to the first Future – the one where Paul (Oakenfold) and Ian (St. Paul) collected money off everyone first, in order to pay for the room – but I did go to the official opening night. I couldn’t go the next week, but went the week after with a few traveller mates. I was about to leave, just before the end, when Ian said, “Wait the last record is for you”, and Oakey played The Beatles` All You Need Is Love. Much ecstatic hugging on the dance-floor ensued.
I got given an invite for Shoom by James Jewells – a mate of Danny`s (Rampling). James had a flat-warming party in South London, and Danny had played. We couldn’t get a baby-sitter, so we`d taken our 6-month old son, Luke. All the loved-up girls doted on him. When we left the party at around 4AM, Gary Haisman was standing outside, soaking wet. He was tripping, and trying to come down had poured a bucket of water over his head.
Future had been on the Thursday, and Ian then phoned me on Saturday – “What are you doing tonight?”. “I`m going to somewhere called Shoom”. “Really?..Are you sure?..It’s hard to get in.” I said, “Well, we`ve got an invite!” We arrived at the Shoom to be confronted with a scrum of about 60 people outside – absolute chaos. Jenny was pointing to people, picking people out, and I was about to give up and go home when Oakey arrived. He was DJing that night. The crowd parted to let him through and we followed – and he played All You Need Is Love again as his last record to more blissful hugging. That`s when I realised that we could have a second summer of love.
For me that time, from the opening of Future in February until May when Spectrum really kicked off was a truly magical experience. Personally, though, one of the most significant events was in Easter 1988, when the Shoom went to Broadstairs, where Danny had been booked to play at a soul weekender. Do you know about that?…I`ve never read about it. I always thought that it would have made a great movie.
Broadstairs? Was that the weekender when the promoter tried to chuck Danny off the decks for playing house?
OK, so Easter Saturday in `88 was on the 2nd of April. Spectrum was opening on the 11th. It felt like things were picking up. A couple of days before Shoom went to Broadstairs, I was rummaging through records in a mainly dance-oriented shop in Stoneleigh Surrey. Also in the shop, chatting at the counter was a record company rep, the owner, and a couple of DJs. The rep went “So what do you think about this acid house that thing Oakenfold’s pushing?” and both the DJs said something along the lines of “Fucking shit mate…absolute bollocks” while the shop owner chipped in “A waste of time..it’ll never catch on”. “Ha ha just you wait”, I thought..
When Danny told me about Broadstairs, I decided to go in my bus. I had 3 kids from a previous relationship that came to stay every school holiday, plus my current partner’s daughter, and our son Luke who was a baby, born in October `87 – plus a friend to babysit them – so off we all went. The venue was near the sea and I managed to park in a car park close by. The first thing that I saw when we walked in the club was 4 Shoomers lying on their backs on the floor – heads to heads -tripping, making shapes with their hands. It was more of a concert venue than a nightclub with the DJ playing on a stage. There was a bar along the back wall facing the stage with the Shoomers occupying one corner of the room. I saw someone cutting blotters of acid from a sheet. There were only a couple of bouncers walking around. The Shoomers had been to the Funfair at Margate and quite a few of them were wearing garlands of plastic flowers around their necks – Hawaiian style. They were regarded with bemusement by the local soul boys as they sat there waiting to come up on a pill and / or a blotter. The soul boys were doing their “look at me” style dancing. When James Brown`s Sex Machine inspired some Shoomers to do some manic acid dancing, I think some of the soul boys thought they were taking the piss. As I started coming up there was a vague feeling of hostility. “This is going go be interesting”, I thought. “Come on all you Shoomers”, Danny shouted over the PA as he launched into his set, turning on 2 smoke machines and a couple strobes. He opened his set with the Thrashing Doves` Jesus on the Payroll, and we all rushed to the front, while the soul boys retreated to the bar. They were well pissed off. I got warned not to go to the toilets. My partner got her feet trodden on repeatedly – she was dancing barefoot. Danny was supposed to do a couple of hours but got chased off after an hour. It was time to go.
I`d told Danny and Jenny (Rampling) that I`d come down in my bus, and Jenny got on a box and announced to the Shoomers that they were all gonna go to my “van”, so I led 70 odd people down to my bus where everyone tried to get on – which of course woke my kids up. Someone reported that the windows had been smashed on one of the two coaches that they had come down on so I offered to take some of them back in my bus. About 10 people stayed for the ride, including James Jewells and Gary Haisman.
On the bus back from Broadstairs.
My plan was to wait until the sun came up and then go to Margate and get a couple of hours sleep while everyone else took my kids to the Funfair. So we had a couple of chilled out hours smoking and talking. I only had one cassette with some vaguely dancey tunes on it, which we played on repeat. Sly And Robbie`s version of Day Tripper seemed appropriate. When it was light I started the bus to much excitement `cos I think some of them had forgotten that they were on a bus that could actually move. We went to Margate and I crashed out while they all went to the funfair. In the end I dropped them all off at Morden Underground Station. Someone told me later that they all stood on the pavement waving at my bus until it disappeared from view..with tears streaming down their faces.
The hostility from the soul boys was kind of understandable. I mean if you were a local soul boy, this was a major event, ruined by a bunch of weirdos from London – but we were the Future! A couple of months later I was at Planet Love at The WAG club, and on the dance-floor, totally spangled, was the most show-offy of the soul boys – a real John Travolta – who had mutated into an Acid Ted.
At the funfair in Margate.
How did you get the gig, DJing upstairs at Spectrum?
I`d met Ian St. Paul at a party in Carlshalton in April 1987, and then bumped into him again once he’d come back from the famous Ibiza trip. We became friends and he visited the flat we had in Sutton. He`d been impressed by the amount of vinyl I had, and quickly came back with Paul Oakenfold in tow. The two of them went on about recreating Ibiza in London. They invited me and Maggi to Future, and I was like. “I dunno, I haven’t been to a disco since 1967”, but Maggi loved to dance. I took my first E in October `87, and then went to the winter Solstice at Stonehenge with 20 capsules, which I gave away.
Spectrum started on April 11, 1988, but didn’t really take off until May. One Sunday morning, mid-May, at about 7AM I get woken up by the phone. It`s Ian. He`s on his way to the coast and wants to pop in. When he arrives he asks me to DJ in the V.I.P. bar at Spectrum – he wants `60s psychedelia upstairs, to complement the acid house downstairs. I said. “OK, but I want a `60s lightshow to go with the music. I had one of those projectors that were used in the old liquid light-shows, and a good friend, Steve, who used to do a lightshow back in the `60s. Steve took my projector, and found a couple more. I had never DJed before. I didn’t realise that I needed my own headphones. My set was nearly all 7”s, all `60s stuff…The Strangeloves` In The Night Time, Electric Prunes` Dr Dogood, The Squires` Goin All The Way, etc., which worked because by then there were quite a few musicians in the room, who knew this stuff…Pete Wylie told me that Night Time was one of the first tunes he learned to play. The climax of my set was Tequila Dementia by The Honolulu Mountain Daffodils…check it out…great lyrics.
On the opening night of Spectrum – allegedly named after the next designer drug, “Spectra”, which failed to materialize – there were only 2 to 300 people there. I was there with a few traveller mates, one of whom was called, “Tat Dave”. To travellers, your “tat” is your stuff. Whenever Dave came to visit he always had a present – some tat that he`d found in a skip or when scrapping a motor. Dave was 35 and loved coming out clubbing, even though he had never danced in his life. He had long hair that he used to pile up on top of his head – Genghis Khan style – and he was living on a traveller site in Wiltshire. He was always pretty scruffy. So I take Dave to Spectrum, and he has had a couple of pills, and decides to go for a piss. A big guy talks to him in the loo and says, “It’s not really kicking off out there is it bruv? Come on man, let’s go and show them”, and as they exit the loos Dave starts to panic `cos he realizes that the guy wants him to dance. Dave follows him onto the dance-floor, though, and proceeded to dance for the first time in his life, at which point the other guy goes up to Danny (Rampling) and says “This scene Danny…what’s it all about?” Danny says, “Love, peace..” “No Danny. It’s a lot more than that…I`ve got someone you need to meet”..and he points to Tat Dave…”It’s Jesus Christ”. Danny told me later that when he saw Tat Dave doing this strange shuffle / dance he thought that a hand had reached through time and grabbed Jesus, and that the cloud of dust coming off Dave was the dust of time. It was actually because his clothes were so filthy.
About a month later I am at the Future and Oakey tells me that they want me and Terry Farley to play in the middle room – The Star Bar – which had previously been shut on Mondays. Ian tells me to play what I like – “Just don’t play what they are playing downstairs.” I used to play until 1.00AM. Spectrum would open at about 10PM, but I`d get there at 9 – and mess about on the decks, practice, as I only had one deck at home. There was rarely a working crossfader, because the one on the mixer on the main dance-floor would have got burned out by sweat dripping off the DJs nose. The DJ booth would often still be littered with signs of Saturday night`s debauchery. Then when the club was about to open the manager would turn down the lights and I always played the same Steve Miller song – I Wanna Make The World Turn Around – which was my way of cleansing the atmosphere. I always followed that with Airto`s Parana. I really enjoyed being a warm up DJ – playing what I liked with no pressure to get people dancing. With my friend Steve doing his `60s light show people would be lounging around watching it tripping, and I often had an empty dance floor until my last hour. By the time of Land of Oz though, I`d amassed a lot of good slower tunes so I arranged them by BPM in my box. I had loads between 96 and 110 BPM that I’ d play before midnight. Then Heaven got the Mutoid Waste Company in to transform the dance-floor, so that from the bar it looked like a giant skull – you walked in through the eye sockets. After they did that I always had people on the dance-floor `cos it was a much better space to be in.
I have this partial playlist of yours – from decades ago – that was printed in one of the music weeklies…Nowomowa, Babakoto`s Just To Get By, Chocolate Watch Band, The Troggs… Can you remember any other tunes that were favourites at Spectrum?
Apart from the tunes that you’ve mentioned I also played Trancedance`s You’re Gonna Get It, Johnny Wakelin`s In Zaire, Kid Creole`s Stool Pigeon, Hollywood Beyond…I used to buy US imports from Chick-A-Boom Records in Sutton – stuff like Trybe`s Psychedelic Shack, Kariya, etc.
I was pretty skint in those days, so didn’t have the money to buy many tunes. I got £50 for DJing on Monday nights, but pills were £15 each, and I usually took 3 – so if my partner came out too that was £90, plus something for the babysitter. It wasn’t until the switch to Land of Oz that I realised that I could get on mailing lists. With Ian telling me to play what I want “just don’t play anything they play downstairs”, this meant endless rummaging in charity shops. In fact I was quite ignorant of current chart music. I tended to listen to Radio 4 not Radio 1. I remember hearing The Fine Young Cannibals` Good Thing in a record shop. I loved it, bought it, and played it that night in the club, and afterwards I can remember being thanked for playing it by a guy who said, “I never thought I’d hear the number one record in the charts in a top nightclub.”
Someone told be that you used to play The J. Geils` Band`s Centerfold. Is that true?
I only played it once. It was the night that The KLF played downstairs. I got introduced to them afterwards in the VIP bar, and one of them said, “I know you. You’re the DJ that was playing the rock records. I was in your room, having a really good time, and then this tune came on, and everyone went nuts, so I went nuts too, and then I realized that it was a song that I really fucking hate.” I also used to play Bachman Turner Overdrive`s You Ain`t Seen Nothing Yet.
Can you remember who else DJed upstairs at Spectrum?
As far as I can remember, at Spectrum, it was only ever me and Terry Farley in The Star Bar, then when Spectrum became Land Of Oz it was me warming up Tony Wilson. The only record I can remember Farley playing was Harvest For The World by The Isley Brothers, but I never really heard his set in The Star Bar `cos I used to go to the VIP bar at 1AM, after I`d played. Sorry, I can’t remember who DJed in the VIP bar, but I know that the KLF performed there at least once. On the Sunday all-dayers, though, lots of other DJs played. The club was open from midday until midnight. To be honest, I never liked the all-dayers. I often had to play 3 times, and it killed doing the following Monday night.
This story just popped into my head when thinking about the VIP bar. Normally it was upstairs above, and behind, the main DJ, but sometimes it was in the adjacent Sound Shaft – where Future was. You could access it from the side of the main dance-floor. I have a vivid memory of trying to cross a heaving dance-floor to get to the Sound Shaft when Oakey dropped French Kiss and everyone went nuts. So, anyway…one night I was in there after DJing, talking to a young girl – we were both somewhat chemically enhanced – talking bollox. There was a DJ playing, very loud, so while she’s shouting in my ear I spotted Gary Glitter, and an obvious member of his band – they were both dressed in the full stage gear, platform boots, silver costumes. Now I had heard that you have to be shorter than Gary to be in his band in order to make him look taller on stage, so I’m chuckling over this when the girl who was shouting in my ear also noticed Gary, and just as the tune stopped, and the room went momentarily quiet, she shouts “Fuck me, it’s Alvin Stardust”. A pissed looking Gary storms off. The thing is that she wasn’t taking the piss. She was only about 18. I thought it was amazing that she could come up with the name of any glam rocker under the circumstances.
I also remember sitting in the V.I.P. bar upstairs, and everyone rushing out onto the walkway over the dance-floor upon hearing the Hendrix guitar opening to Everything Starts With An E. It was the first time that it had been played in a club – a magic moment. I remember looking down on the dance-floor and thinking that this was the peak.
There was a 3 or 4 week period between Spectrum closing and Land of Oz opening when it carried on at Heaven as “The Club With No Name”, but I didn’t DJ then. Spectrum had to appear to close because of the bad publicity Branson (Richard, the owner of the club, Heaven) was getting from the Sun. I was gutted when Spectrum closed because I`d just bought a second 1210 and a mixer, and could finally practice mixing at home…but then I bumped into Ian at a party in film studio and he asked me to DJ at the renamed Land Of Oz. The first night that I played there was a party in The Star Bar to celebrate Lisa Loud getting an award for promoting Inner City’s Big Fun. Lisa, her brother and Oakey all DJed and then I went on and played Chilly`s For Your Love. Chris Butler and Johnny Walker came straight into the DJ box to check out what it was. I found 6 copies of this 1979 disco cover of the Yardbirds tune in a charity shop. I gave 5 away to other DJs – Oaky, Danny, Steve Proctor, Fat Tony, and Weatherall. It was a huge tune for Proctor at his night, Promised Land.
I`m assuming that you know Colin Hudd, another Spectrum / Land Of Oz veteran?
Colin Hudd is a lovely bloke. When his record – Manic Mcs came out, he gave me a copy, and I asked him to sign it…Oakey thought that was very funny and took the piss, so the next week I brought my copy of Jibaro in for Paul to sign. Colin called his record Mental, because people would shout that from the dance-floor while he was mixing.
Did you DJ anywhere else?
I regularly got asked to, but having a newish baby and other commitments I didn’t have the time – but in 1988 I did DJ for Michael Clark, the dancer. He was performing I Am Curious Orange at the Edinburgh Festival. He also wanted to put on a couple of club nights up there, and asked me to play. So I drove to Edinburgh in my bus. It took 3 days. Michael also did a club in Soho – God’s Disco – where I DJed with Farley and Weatherall. A friend of Michael`s would also send a tape – a 45 minute mix – that had to be played. I don’t think this person ever came to the club, so that was a bit strange. My partner, Maggi, had met Michael first, and Boy George, in the VIP bar at Spectrum. I think Phil Dirtbox might also have been involved in God`s. It was an odd – and definitely illegal – venue. Basically there were 3 rooms, one above the other, linked by a dodgy staircase. You came off the street, through a normal door, up the stairs, into the first room with just speakers, then up more stairs to the second room where the DJs were. Then on the next floor there was the chill out room. Next door was a restaurant with a disco in the basement. Diners could sit at their table and watch the dancers. The problem was that the toilets for God’s Disco were on the ground floor, where there was also a door that opened into this restaurant – so all night long munted clubbers would mistake the doors and end up in the restaurant. The door couldn’t be opened from the restaurant, so you had to exit the restaurant to get back in the front door of God`s. I did it twice.
The problem DJing with Farley and Weatherall was they liked to play one after the other, so I opened for an hour at about 1AM but then didn’t get back on until about 5. Since I always took 3 pills during the night, by my second set I`d be a bit chemically challenged. I remember playing James Brown`s How Do You Stop about 20 minutes before the end, and then 18 months later in India, I met a guy who had randomly ended up in God`s Disco – on his first E – and had been blown away hearing James Brown…it was his favourite tune…
Andrew Weatherall used to tell this great story about dressing up as a pirate and dropping acid on Silbury Hill? Were you the instigator, or involved in this adventure?
The Silbury Hill trip came about because some of the clubbers who knew I had a bus wanted to go somewhere in it. I kept the bus in Chessington, so they all came down there, and I took them on a kind of magical mystery tour. I decided on Silbury Hill because it’s an amazing place that few people seem to know about, and it’s got a really cool carpark where I had often stayed the night in the bus and never got any hassle. My partner and I had a few pills. Everyone else was on acid. So when it got dark I led these trippers up the hill. Do you know it? Have you ever climbed Silbury Hill? When we got to the top we sat in 3 little groups. I thought it would be appropriate to smoke a chillum once we got to the top, so I`d made one up on the bus. After we lit the chillum I went over to the others and because people often don’t know how to hold a chillum, I held it and told them to inhale through the gap between my thumb and forefinger. The next day they asked how I did that magic trick….”What magic trick?”…”You know..when we smoked your hand!” Anyway after a bit I decided to go back to the bus without telling the others. I thought they would have more fun on the hill, since they were tripping, and would later automatically follow me down. Apparently though when they realised that I’d gone, they panicked because they didn’t know the way. One girl slid all the way down because they couldn’t find the path. The next morning I took them to see the stones at Avebury. I think I have some photos somewhere…
At Silbery Hill, with Tat Dave.
Did you continue to stay involved with the scene after “The Second Summer Of Love”? I know that a lot of those involved at the start became disillusioned and moved on.
We went to India in November `89, and by that point the club, Land Of Oz, was heaving – rammed every Monday. They’d opened a record stall downstairs and I was coming in and buying tunes, and then playing them upstairs that same night. Lots of Italian imports. We stayed in India for 5 months, but went straight to OZ as soon as we got back. It was totally different – half empty. The Star Bar was almost deserted – and it was cold! Apparently the club had closed while we were away and they had finally fixed the ventilation system. People used to wonder why their lighters wouldn’t work in the V.I.P. bar – no oxygen! I remember sitting in a half empty V.I.P. bar while Alex Patterson DJed one of his ambient sets and people shouted “Play a fucking record!” I also remember standing next to Oakey in the main DJ box when he dropped A Split Second`s Flesh to a deserted dance-floor. It made me feel like Oz was dying. I didn’t go to Heaven again until a couple of years ago, when there was a revival night, which was a very strange experience. The club layout had totally changed. There was no upstairs in the Sound Shaft. The club seemed smaller than I remembered it. I was standing on the walkway over the main dance-floor looking down on all the balding heads. Time marches on!
I came back from India itching to play again. Before we went to India Maggi had asked Oakey to give me the tunes that he didn’t want, so I came back to a big pile of promos. He gave me hundreds and hundreds of tunes right up until the end of `96 – something that I will always be eternally grateful for. I played some other balearic gigs…things such as Monkey Drum, but the London scene had slowed right down to around 96BPM…Paul had often came to chat while I was playing in The Star Bar and a lot of my set was at 96. He said he really liked that vibe.
At Glastonbury in 1990 I noticed that someone was giving a talk in a marquee on the green field about acid house. Now history is my thing, and I really hate it when people rewrite it, so I went along to listen – and heckle. Afterwards I introduced myself to the speaker – Fraser Clarke – another `60s hippie who had discovered the scene in `89. He ran a magazine called Encyclopedia Psychedelica, and he appointed me his musical director! I played some parties on that scene. I lasted 3 months before falling out with Fraser. He went on to do Megatripolis at Heaven on a Thursday night.
I was always being asked to play on the traveller free-party scene. I took a lot of travellers up to Spectrum and Oz. I used to do a practice cassette each week – unmixed `cos I didn’t have a mixer at home, but they gave me some idea of how many tunes to take. These tapes would get blagged off me by traveller mates and copied again and again. I remember sitting on someone’s bus waiting to play at a DIY party in `92 and realizing that the tape playing was one of my practice tapes for Spectrum.
I eventually gave up DJing on the traveller scene. The last time I played was at Glastonbury Festival in `92 – in the sugar lump tent, which was a sort of secret dance venue. This was before they had a dance area at the festival. I still went out to parties on the balearic scene. I often went to Phil Perry’s Full Circle, for example, but it all changed for me when Ian put on a Goa party in `93. I immersed my self in the psy trance scene for a few years, going regularly to things like Escape From Samsara. Living in London there was also the acid techno scene, with Chris Liberator and Dave The Drummer. When Maggi and I split up I ended up living on my bus in a yard in Surrey. My neighbour had a soundsystem – Stinky Pink – the best rig on the squat party scene. I went to loads of those parties – a totally mental scene. One party in Acton, in a massive empty office building, started Christmas Eve and went through to New Year. There were over 20 rigs, and every type of music – except psy trance. It was the only time I ever heard a gabba soundsystem.
A traveller friend also started the world`s first solar powered cinema and I went to loads of festivals with them. They had a regular pitch at Glastonbury. He also went to Holland every year for the Ruigoord Festival and Robodock – a massive squat where they had a robot festival. They showed alternative stuff. My mate made a lot of little films. It was called the Groovy Movie Picture House. Sadly he died a couple of years ago. He was only 50.
I’ve been living on my bus in Cornwall since 2001, occasionally going clubbing in Plymouth, but more on the Mangos Hi Fi / Scotch Bonnet Records scene. I`ve still got tinnitus from function one soundsystems. The only thing I really want to go to at the moment is Noisily. I got tickets for 2020, which was cancelled, so fingers crossed for 2022.
Roger has begun compiling a YouTube playlist of Spectrum / Land Of Oz classics, which you can check out here.
I have to say that it`s been such an honour to talk to Roger, and help share his stories. We’ve bounced this backwards and forwards for the best part of a year. I`d like to thank him for his time, and patience.
Just for fun I stitched together a “mix” of the tunes that Roger talks about. For a limited period you can download it here.
Steve Miller – I Wanna Make The World Turn Around
Airto – Parana
Chocolate Watch Band – Gone And Passes By
The Beatles – Baby You’re A Rich Man
The Squires – Going All The Way
The Strangeloves – In The Nighttime
Electric Prunes – Doctor Do Good
The Troggs – Wild Thing
Nowomowa – Nowomowa
Carl Marsh – Here Comes The Crush
Johnny Wakelin – In Zaire
Kissing The Pink – Stand Up
Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Stool Pigeon
Babakoto – Just To Get By
Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
Trance Dance – You’re Gonna Get It
Chilly – For Your Love
J Geils Band – Centerfold
Bachman Turner Overdrive – You Ain`t Seen Nothing Yet
Honolulu Mountain Daffodils – Tequila Dementia
The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
The Beatles – Getting Better
The Beatles – All You Need Is Love
James Brown – How Do You Stop?
William Pitt – City Lights