Gary Crowley


Gary Crowley

What do you do?
A DJ of no fixed hairstyle. Two shows on a Saturday on BBC Radio London and 'GC's Punk and New Wave Show' every Tuesday on Soho Radio

Where are you from?
North West London. I was brought up on the Lisson Green Estate and now live 10 minutes away in Maida the apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree.

Describe your style in three words?
Punky Moddy Fan

Which sub-cultures have had an enduring effect on you?
Punk and Mod for me. Prior to Punk exploding in '77, I was fascinated by all things Mod through my Aunt and Uncle who were original Mods from North West London. In fact, my ‘60s obsession got to the point where I would gear every school project around it so I could write about and all things Mod and youth culture! The book Generation X also had an enormous effect on me. So when I started reading about this new wave of bands coming through in late '76/early '77, I instantly knew that this was my time, my movement. And the band that encapsulated the energy of Punk (closely followed by The Clash) combined with the style of the 60s mods was the Jam as exemplified on their classic debut 'In The City'.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
JFK has always fascinated me. In fact the Kennedys as a whole I can absorb myself in until the cows come home. The youth, the intelligence and the wit that JFK brought to the White House begs the question just what could've been had he not been assassinated in Dallas. The track has got to be Frank Sinatra's Kennedy campaign version of the classic 'High Hopes'. Love a bit of Ol Blue Eyes too.

Another you? Any other career that would have appealed?
Maybe an actor. Up until I was fired by Punk, acting was something I was seriously thinking about as a kid and even wrote off to RADA et al. Not that I think Idris Elba and co would've had anything to worry about.

Best Gig you have ever been to? 
That very first one is always going to be hard to beat, and for me, it was The Jam and The Boys at Battersea Town Hall, early summer in 1977. Both bands possessed an infectious, high-octane adrenaline which literally sent me home reeling that night thinking I want to be a part of this. 'The First Time' by The Boys still sounds as vital as it did that night. Nirvana at Belfast Kings Hall in the early 90's was a magical night too.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
Bogarts was such a special club and time in my life. The summer of 1983. The Sound Of The Suburbs. Well, South Harrow actually. The music... the clothes... the hair! I was 19 years old back then and I'd just been given my own radio show 'The Tuesday Club' on Capital Radio, and the end of the summer would see me hitch a ride on Wham's Club Fantastic tour as their warm-up DJ, but that's another story for another day.

It was somewhere where a large part of London's teenage cognoscenti would come on a weekly basis and hear and dance to the music we were playing on the radio show.

And with the occasional personal appearance from our current fave raves. Boy did that idea snowball. The Style Council (Paul Weller doing a PA?! Unheard of at the time!), Paul Young, I Level, Bananarama, The Haines Gang, Jo Boxers, Jimmy The Hoover, Animal Nightlife, Rock Steady Crew, The Main T Posse... just some of the artists who would rock up and do a turn. Those Bad Boys from Bushey, George Michael and Andrew Ridgely would hold court on the dance floor and occasionally the bar.

It was that kind of club. Where the music came first, and everybody danced. Chic's ' Good Times'... Gilberto Gil's 'Toda Menina Baiana'...Wham's 'Young Guns'... The Smiths 'This Charming Man (New York Vocal mix)' and Grandmaster & Melle Mel's 'White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)' were just some of our ANTHEMS over that summer. Not that anybody was doing drugs mind. It really was all about the dance and perhaps a drink or two. The Harrow girls. The Hackney Boys, Trendies from Soho making the journey out to the burbs cos the vibe was that good.

My defining memory of Bogarts would be me behind the turntables and three hundred teens from across the capital splitting into groups of boys and girls and acting out the words of 'Summer Nights' from Grease! Innocent times. Almost like a youth club really looking back. And to top it off I fell in love with a local girl that summer. Beautiful Paula Skinner. Be still my beating heart! As the song said... 'Good Times' indeed.

Gary Crowley's career in music began in the late 1970s when he founded the new-wave fanzine 'The Modern World' despite still being a schoolboy at the time. Interviewing many of the most significant bands of the day including The Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Clash, he famously persuaded Joe Strummer to give him an exclusive while The Clash rehearsed at London's Chalk Farm studios.

Out now, ‘Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave’ compilation is a must for any fan of the British Punk/New Wave movement. The three CD album includes tracks from bands such as Generation X, John Cooper Clarke, The Saints and The Skids alongside songs from many of the less obvious, sometimes forgotten, bands inspired by the likes of Buzzcocks and their self-released 'Spiral Scratch' EP. 

Compiled by Gary Crowley and Jim Lahat the set includes extensive sleevenotes explaining what inspired the selections and Crowley’s first-hand memories of the time. Find out more here.

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