Graham Gold at Kiss Photo session
The Story of a DJ LifeTime
Very happy and super honoured! We finally got the Graham Story!
As - he will mention himself – we have tried and very much so - fished for Grahams full story to share with our readers for a while now.
The legendary London Dj who found his latest paradise here on Koh Phangan.
Together with the rest of all of us here, who all have been looking for common ground and interests, he settled down after a long life* of fame and prosperity.
* we cannot actually say Long Life for sure since he seems to be unwilling to share the exact number of years that he is carrying ( handsomely one might add .. )
Interest and talent can bring you a long way, but to walk the same way as Graham something else is required!
This little dude, funny and clever as he is with an open true heart – has been looked up to, looked at, clapped at, jumped at, cheared at, laughed to, laughed with, danced to and danced with and sometimes gossiped about cause anyone could.
Not that they did or would do from a bad heart or cruel intentions but because he has been a name, a public treasure and always “out there in the open”.
He was famous, is famous and maybe at times a bit infamous!
Graham Gold, THE Name, the man, the musician, the father, the lover, the brother, the friend, the husband and first of all THE DJ!
Here is his story!
Graham Gold at Pacha
No longer need for gossip and guessing.
Thank you Graham.
We are very happy to know you and count you as a friend and we hope we will continue both our work together but for sure also our common happiness for sharing this paradise!
We wish you all the best of luck in life and with your music.
This is the Story of a DJ LifeTime by Graham Gold:
Sharon here on The Phanganist Magazine on Koh Phangan begged me last year to write about my career, but I said no, as it could (would by some) be taken as me coming across big headed - and that I am honestly not, and those that really know me know this is true.
But I liked the idea and thought OK, and as this week is going to be my birthday and if I REALLY make it humble and put it on Facebook to share with my “friends” (many of whom actually know me only from my Kiss or Peach days) then they may find it an interesting read.
The first part is quite long cos I want you to know where this passion for music came from.
I have tried to make it funny as well as honest!!
And that’s the reason why I am posting it here - so all my FB friends may know a little more about the person they befriended!
Graham Goldfingers on Vinyl
So yes this week is going to be my birthday.
That makes me a Cancerian, and true, I am an emotional dick head, I love being in love (though have yet to really find THE ONE!), wear my heart on my sleeve, take things to heart way too much and read into things, stuff I shouldn’t, worry about what other people think of me, but I believe I am honest and actually a nice person - even if I do sometimes say the wrong things!
I am not happy about this birthday and will be even less happy in one year from now, in fact I have decided this is the last one I will ever actually celebrate.
So my birthday this week makes me 7 years older than Danny Tenaglia (that can’t be right!!) and David Morales, 8 years older than Carl Cox, 6 years older than Pete Tong and probably the same age as Norman Jay.
I am also 31 years older than Darragh Casey, 29 years older than Rob Gritton and 19 years older than David Chong!
But the thing is, in my heart and head I am still 25 and 30 respectively and what I have never lost (nor ever hope to lose) is this insatiable passion I have for music and it has not diminished since I played my first tune in public. It was at a “Blues” a reggae house party in Ealing, West London.
Graham Gold early days on vinyl
I was fifteen years old - the track was “How Long does It Take" by Pat Kelly - from the rock steady era - that pre curser to reggae.
The first single I ever bought, aged nine, from my hard saved pocket money was Sam Cooke -“Twisting The Night Away”, the second single was “Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick.
I don’t wanna be the age I am, but by being this age, it meant I was blessed to grow up listening to REAL soul and rock steady (even Blue Beat).
At birthday parties of school friends - they all played Cream, Hendrix, Deep Purple, but I just didn’t get it!!
I was into Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett and the whole Stax, Atlantic, Studio One and Motown. I was also addicted to pirate radio – stations like Radio London and Radio Caroline, - and Johnie Walker (now on BBC Radio2) & Emperor Rosko were my absolute heroes - the played the best soul music ever!
Which is why I guess, the first mobile disco I ran with Duncan Uren (a good friend and still is today) was called The Funky Road Show.
We were fifteen and Duncan’s dad would drive us to gigs around West London (we even had our own gear at the time-Citronic mixer, Garrard SP25 belt drive turntables and Simms Watts amp & speakers) playing every reggae tune we could get our hands - Jimmy Cliff was my idol - well we were skinheads after all!!
By the time we were seventeen, we were playing out five nights a week championing artists like Chairman Of the Board, Eddie Kendricks, The Jackson 5, Dennis Brown & James Brown.
It was called Champers and was in a ballroom of a pub, the Railway Hotel in Greenford.
I used to go out at 3 in the morning pasting up these huge posters all over the area, and oddly enough I never got caught!!
It ran for 3 years and the music was the best soul music around, I used to spend hours every week in record shops like Record Shack and Greensleeves looking for “those tunes”.
This gig got me noticed and in 1978 I joined the Royalty team in Southgate - arguably the UK’s first super club - joining the legends of the time - Chris Hill, Jeff Young & Froggy on the decks.
As radio was also my passion, I was also “on air” every day on a hospital radio station in Southall.
Graham Gold with HAIR at Gullivers
It was actually a mental asylum, but we broadcast not just to the patients (they weren’t all actually bonkers!) but the staff too (they were actually probably more mad than half the patients!!)
It was a slog, but it taught me to be a radio presenter and not the kind where you have a coat hanger in your mouth. I was taught to actually be ME on the radio!
So, thank you Gordon Baxter and Jim Phillips for your excellent coaching.
By 1980, I landed the best gig in London.
The club was called Gullivers and it was in Mayfair.
For this I thank the previous resident, and probably one of the most knowledgeable and finest dj’s the UK has ever produced - Graham “Fatman” Cantor, along with James Hamilton, the most influential music journalist of his time, and who five years later awarded me “Broadcaster Of The Year” in his annual awards, due to my soul show on Londons Capital FM.
I held this residency for nine years, playing 7 hours a night, 6 nights a week.
The greats of the greats in black sport & music always came to the club whenever they were in London. Stevie Wonder, Cameo, Jermaine Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson - the list is endless.
Graham Gold with Stevie Wonder
Before I got the gig on Capital I ’85, I was doing the drive time show on pirate station JFM five days a week for 3 years.
So my life for this whole period was up at 11am, leave home at 2pm to drive 2 hours across London to be on air at 4.
Then at 7, I would drive into the West End and as I had the keys to the club, I would cook dinner in the kitchen, produce the next days show, then be ready for work at 9.
Sundays was spent editing tapes I had made of the shows and sending them out to every radio station in the UK. I also did the record reviews for Blues & Soul which obviously took up all of Sundays too.
Graham with Alexandria
Being married meant I rarely saw my wife, but if you want something so badly, there is a price to pay, and sometimes that price can be too high!!
I was also part of the Radio London Soul Night Out crew which also took me up the DJ league as these shows were broadcast live every Thursday live from various venues around London - though its real home was the Hammersmith Palais.
I was lucky to be a part (even though it was a small part) in the application for the Kiss licence, and in 1988, after years of hard work by then owner Gordon Mac and Sir Norman Jay MBE, their efforts were rewarded and on September 1st 1990, Kiss went on the air for the first time.
I won’t tell you about my first show, on launch day, as there was one monumental fuck up which was not actually my fault, but it is described in my first novel (whenever that finally gets finished).
Although based on my life from when I moved here to Phangan, I am neither Graham in the book nor is it about being a DJ, but I have used experiences in my life to explain the move away from England, and I am sure there are many, many people who will be able to relate to this.
I got the 2 shows I never actually wanted - the Breakfast show and the chart show, I actually turned the chart show down at first!
I knew these get the biggest audience of any shows on any radio station, but they also are totally accessible musically.
Graham Gold Kiss Radio
Whilst we didn’t play crap, as Kiss was all about cutting edge, having won the licence because both black and dance music were not catered for on any other radio station, I still couldn’t play all the music I was playing in clubs. It was the same as the ship pirates back in the day fighting the government because there were NO music stations in the UK at all-but there fight gave way to the birth of Radio One. So the land pirates of the 80’s made the government award more FM licences to stations who would not broadcast top 40 shit.
Luckily, Judge Jules and Danny Rampling eventually got gigs on Radio 1 so left Kiss and I inherited both their shows, and in 1993, for the first time in 3 years, I actually became credible again, but it was a hard fought battle fighting the impressions of all the new journalists from magazines that had evolved due the explosion of house back in 1989, and of course the arrival of “E”! My then ongoing hate affair with Mixmag has been much documented, but I think we may all be friends now! Kiss approached me in 1993 to be the front man for a new club night that would take over from Jules’s big night at Legends in Londons West End.
I remember the first night of Peach, and I was petrified!
It was my 3rd gig that night.
My first was in Oxford which was a weekly gig broadcast live on the local FM station Fox FM, and as I drove from the Epping Forest Country Club into London, I was shitting it.
Supposing it was empty?
Jules had done well there for 2 years, but I wasn’t Jules.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried, the place was rammed.
Actually, and I know he will hate me for saying it, but it was one of the busiest nights ever at the club.
Legends was also the place I met Dave & Easty-aka Koolworld.
They gave me a DAT tape at the gig that night and the track on it happened to be “Invader”. I loved it to death and so the Koolworld label was born. “Invader” then went onto sell 30,000 copies.
Graham Gold at Pacha
My first Ibiza gigs were at Pacha, Es Paradis and Ku (now Priviledge) in 1994 and I guess this was the year my international career took off. Over the next ten years it would take me to over 150 cities in 43 countries, playing festivals such as Glastonbury, Ultra, Homelands, Summafielddayze and The Street Parade in Zurich, and playing for all of the biggest UK - Gods Kitchen, Gatecrasher, Passion & Slinky I also sold more than 700,000 mix albums for which I have 7 Gold Discs hanging in my villa, and I made the DJ Magazine Top 100 for seven of those ten years.
The first year I made the poll was in 1997. I went with Simon, my driver. When we went to the awards ceremony, by the time we got there they had already started counting down the poll on the big screens and it was at position 88.
I was either at the bar buying a drink, or in the toilet doing a line, and when I returned to Simon, he said “you just missed it, you came in at 22!”
Graham & Adam Promoting
I was the only DJ to stay at the same position the following year but I did spend 5 consecutive years in the Top 40.
During that ten years, it was constant travelling and working up to 18 hours a day-it was hard graft but I loved every minute of it. What you may not know is that I also did a lot of voice overs for TV stations and worked for ITV, BBC and Sky TV.
I also voice commercials for MacDonalds, Argos and pretty much every major label who had dance music albums being released. Now THAT, was money for old rope!
In ’95 I was asked to head up a dance label by Pete Waterman. I called the label Peach, and I scored 3 top 40 crossover hits including Maradonna’s “Outta My Head”.
I gave the Rhythm Masters their first break. I had met them in Malta in a club I played at and they had done a live version of Jaydees “Plastic Dreams” which actually knocked shit out the original.
Rob & Steve (Rhythm Masters) were in town, so I put them in one of Pete’s studios and they re-created “Plastic Dreams” which I then sold back to Jaydee’s label R&S in Belgium, gave the boys all of the £5K we got for it, and that set up their studio for them. They released tunes on Koolworld under their alias The Maltese Massive!
In 2 years Peach had outgrown Legends, and moved to the Café de Paris in Leicester Sq. The opening night there also saw my debut on TV.
I was the host for BPM that night, a club TV show that aired every Sat night/Sunday morning between 2 & 4, and it was a fucking nervous Graham that faced the cameras for the first time even though it was pre recorded and if I fucked up a link I could do it again!
But they liked what I did and I became a regular presenter whilst the show remained on air for the next few years.
Graham Gold and Ferry Corsten
The funniest occasion was when we did a Balearic special and the show came from BCM in Magaluf and the club that was to become Eden many years later in Ibiza.
Although the show was aired a week apart, the Magaluf show was recorded on a Monday night and the Ibiza show the NEXT night.
It wasn’t a great idea as me and the entire crew were off ourt tits on everything you could imagine! One of the links in the Ibiza show took me 18 takes!!
Another year later and Peach outgrew the Café (which one night, saw a very young Take That off their tits in the club!!) and so the move to the Leisure Lounge, Holborn and then in 1997 we moved into the Camden Palace.
Graham & Moby
None of Peach’s success could EVER have happened without Kiss, Nikki Smith & Kate Stillman (promoters) and the most amazing residents I could ever have been blessed to choose from Day One-Darren Pearce, Dave Lambert & Craig Dimech.
We had become London’s most successful Friday night out, and due to my company, Good As Records & Management looking after the UK diaries for Tiesto, Ferry Corsten and back then, a pretty much unknown Armin van Buuren, Peach was their first ever UK club experience.
Our birthday parties there with Paul Oakenfold have already gone down in London’s clubbing folklore history.
Graham Gold and Marcus Shultz
Initially, which is what made me accept the offer of the show, was that I had 100% control over the music output. Sadly, due to the “suits” at some of the stations who took the show (which were all Top 40 orientated) saying they didn’t know any of the music (fucking twats, they weren’t meant to!!).
The pressure on Kiss meant slowly but surely Kiss took full control and I became a “voice on a stick” so much so, that in the end, all I would do is to walk into the radio station to do the voice over links-the show that lasted 3 hours took me less than 10 minutes to deliver “this is/that was/I am/you’re listening to!!”
Graham on MTV
In 2003 Kiss got a new programme controller, and Monday Night’s House Nation got a new presenter by the way of John Askew.
Bless him, he even called me and said he had been offered the show and didn’t know what to do.
I told him to take it,because if he didn’t someone else would! As it turned out, I wasn’t meant to be on the list of firings, the PC had made a mistake but since John had been given the show, they gave me Monday night/ Tuesday morning, but it had to be a pre record.
Do you know how much pre recs suck!?
In 2004 Camden Palace got sold and the new owners did not want this high profile club night in the venue.
I bought a studio, and for 3 years worked every night learning Logic.
PVD and Tiesto played a few of the tunes I produced and they got signed to Recover, but they didn’t recover my career.
My personal life was also in ‘Shit Street’ too, but that’s not for now, that’s all reflected in the book!
Graham & Tiesto
In 2007 I made my first trip to Thailand for some gigs in BKK and Pattaya and came to Phangan to visit what a friend had called Paradise.
I fell in love with Paradise, my name still meant quite a lot across SE Asia, so 6 months later I moved here.
It’s not been easy, but I have learned from the experience.
You see, the island has its own sound and it took me 3 years to get my head around it.
I guess because for the first 2 years as well as playing House, I was still playing Trance outside of the island, and it was pretty hard to be accepted.
Tommy Full Moon Party
Graham at Tommys
SpaceMonkey at Full Moon
And finally, it’s all OK.
Thanks to my boss P Noi for listening to all my ideas, most of which he took up and to SpaceMonkey who has become our new resident alongside me and helped prove to P Noi even more that I was right.
Tommy Full Moon Party
Graham at Tommys
I am also resident at Mer Ka Ba Beach Club, one of the islands most beautiful clubs with a DJ I admire so much, Venus Vibes, and Ku Club where DJ’s who I also admire a lot play - Darragh Casey, Rob Gritton, Jourdan Bordes, Fabrice PHP and Snoopoid.
Others who I admire? David Chong & Boyonic (immensely) Peter G. and Filippo!
I didn’t move here to still work this hard, but I also didn’t move here to lose my passion for what I do!
I am glad the love affair with being a lap top DJ didn’t last for too long, I have loved going back to “doing it for real” even though my ears maybe not what they were!!
STILL strongly believe that you can only really learn the art of mixing by learning on vinyl or cdj’s, because it’s a totally different experience and you can “feel” when the right mix point is.
I may be wrong but it’s what I believe.
I actually do respect every DJ who is on the island who truly has a passion for what he or she plays, and realises that buying a laptop, a controller and the latest top 20 from Beatport doesn’t actually make you a DJ-you have to learn the art and the craft first and that it comes with time and each gig you do.
I am not actually ANTI laptop, I can see its advantages, but I know now, it’s not for me.
Of all the laptop DJ’s, I do think Kaonashi, Guy, Benoir, Jonny and Tribal Sky really do deliver great sets.
But my passion for what I do is as great as it ever was, and I am happy to be involved with the islands very own label Moon Island Records run by Rory Gallagher.