Greg Wilson began DJing in 1975 and is regarded as one of the most important figures on the UK dance scene. He enjoyed hugely popular residencies in the early eighties at Wigan Pier and Manchester’s majorly influential Legend, having originally started out in his hometown of New Brighton. He was a pioneer of mixing in the UK and in 1983 he became the first ‘dance music’ specialist hired for a regular weekly session at Manchester’s now legendary Haçienda club. Greg was instrumental in breaking the new electronic, post-disco records coming out of New York, a sound he has dubbed ‘Electro-Funk’.
In 2003 he set up his own website, electrofunkroots, to document this crucial era in the evolution of dance culture and, having retired from DJ work at the end of 1983, Greg returned to spinning tunes two decades later, receiving plaudits for his red-hot appearances at renowned nights including Electric Chair, Horse Meat Disco, Fabric, Back To Basics, Ministry Of Sound, Asylum, Melting Pot and the Sub Club. Before long he was picking up an ever increasing amount of bookings throughout Europe and, subsequently, worldwide.
In 2005 Tirk Records released ‘Credit to the Edit’, a compilation of re-edits spanning Greg’s entire career, some even original tape edits from way back when (Greg still uses a vintage Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape machine as part of his DJ set-up). This wasn’t his first compilation either, having collaborated on most of the tracks to appear on the Street Sounds ‘UK Electro’ LP in 1984, as well as being the selector behind the ‘Classic Electro Mastercuts’ LP in 1994.
Other firsts for Greg include being the first DJ to mix live on British TV (The Tube in 1983), putting together the first UK radio mixes of their type for Piccadilly 261 in Manchester (beginning 1982) and showing a certain Norman Cook (later Fatboy Slim), then a young aspiring DJ called Quentin, how to scratch (Dec ’83). Greg has written for magazines / webzines including Wax Poetics, Clash, Grand Slam and Discopia.
Nominated by DJ magazine for outstanding contribution, and also named amongst their top twenty remixers of all-time, Greg’s edits and mixes continue to feature on the playlists of DJ’s in every continent. During recent times his remix credits have included Grace Jones, The XX, Groove Armada, Bryan Ferry, Steve Mason, Joan As Police Woman and Simian Mobile Disco, whilst he’s edited tracks by A Guy Called Gerald, Talking Heads, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Electronic, Imagination and Missy Elliot, to name but a few.
2013 marked the 10th anniversary of his DJ return. It was also the year when Greg took his first steps back into record production, via Schooled In The Classics #1, a pairing of groove-based dance tunes put together to play out at his gigs, the initial tracks being first road tested in Chicago and New York before being pressed to vinyl. As curator of the vinyl-only A&R Edits, he’s helped draw attention to up and coming Re-Editors like Henry Greenwood, Sophie Lloyd, Fingerman, Peza and his long-time friend, and remix collaborator, Derek Kaye.
1. Where was your first gig as a DJ?
I started out as a mobile DJ, but my first club booking was at the Chelsea Reach in New Brighton in December 1975 when I was 15. This resulted in a weekly residency at the venue until 1977.
2. Favourite club/night as a punter?
Going back to my early years, my favourite nights were Wednesday in Birkenhead's Hamilton Club, where a DJ called Terry Lennaine, who hosted the Soul show on local radio, was resident. Also The Timepiece in Liverpool with the mighty Les Spaine.
3. One of your best DJ-ing moments?
Every Wednesday at Legend in Manchester, circa 1981-1984. Undoubtedly the highlight of my original DJ career, and right at the cusp of what was happening on the specialist black music scene back then.
4. Guilty pleasure track?
I don't have any guilty pleasures. I suppose this means a track you shouldn't like, but you do – but who deems it as such in the first place? I love all sorts of music from cerebral Jazz to syrupy Pop – it all has its place.
5. Any tracks you plan to do an edit of forthcoming?
Now I'm back in the groove of producing my own tracks, the edits have taken a back seat for now. Sometimes I identify a track, but don't have time to do it myself, so I'll ask someone like Peza or Derek Kaye if they'd be up for reworking it. Quite a few tasty edits have emerged this way.
6. What are some of your favourite disco tracks?
Hold a gun to my head and I'd probably say that 'The Love I Lost' by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' would figure
along with stuff like the epic Norman Whitfield production of 'You + Me = Love' by the Undisputed Truth.
7. Favourite labels?
Tamla Motown – the original Disco label in this country, before even Disco. Stax, Atlantic, Trojan in the 60's / early 70's. Philadelphia International is a classic 70's label. Prelude and West End at the heart of the dance underground in the early 80's.
Greg’s Blog, ‘Being A DJ’, was launched in June 2010. He describes it as “not a DJ blog as such, but more a blog by someone who happens to be a DJ”. The blog is now well established, with over 250 posts published and close on a million site visits to date, Greg’s observations on various aspects of club culture now an online touchstone for an ever-increasing amount of dance enthusiasts and aficionados. Check out his blog here.