Like so many others, I was shocked and saddened at the passing of Andrew Weatherall in February. I knew a few days after I heard the news that I would like to write something for this blog. Andrew’s music and djing have been an important part of my musical life for 30 years and I just wanted to try and capture something.
Danny and I started messaging our friend Johnny Mathews going over memories, trying to get some of the details right.
Johnny ‘Dropjaw’ Mathews, had been a driver for Andrew up until he died. Danny and I had taken Johnny to his first club when he was Danny’s fresh faced, 17 year old assistant at Cherry Red Records in 1990.
Johnny let me share what he wrote on social media:
‘I’ve been struggling to find words to post in here to describe how I feel about Andrew. He was my hero who I first heard in 1990 and first met with Darren and Timna in 1991/92 at their flat in Ealing. Me and my 2 mates sat on the other side of the room we were so nervous to be in his presence!!!!. He played the first tune on my label Intelligence and charted it which basically made the label cool Fat Cat sold about 100 copies!!! I would see him in social situations as well as the many many clubs and the odd work meeting for 15 years and still (as many people have mentioned!) be absolutely terrified of him!!! Then I became his driver about 15 years ago when my dear friend Cazza became his agent and would have the pleasure of spending many hours driving all over our beautiful country……the first few times I drove him I was still terrified but then I finally started to feel relaxed around him. He always made a special cd for the journey of new tunes he wanted to hear and then we’d go through some of the ‘umpty’ he was going to play that night. We talked about anything and everything and becoming friends was an honour and something a 17 year old me could never imagined. He quite often had a little gift for me when I picked him up wether it be badge, a t-shirt or a book. Things I will treasure forever and yet another example of what a thoughtful and generous man he was. Believe me he knew how buzzing I was to receive them. Still in bits. Still can’t believe he’s not here. Lots of love to all who feel the same.
‘FAIL WE MAY, SAIL WE MUST’’
I wanted to try and get it right about when and how I first heard of A.W.. So, a bit of background.
Danny and I went to California for 6 months, in the summer of 1988. Before we went, our Bluetrain drummer, Kevin Moorey took Danny and myself to a Sunday lunch time club at the Queens roundabout in Staines. It was run by Phil Perry, who later started Full Circle in Colnbrook near Heathrow. Kev and his mate Del, got properly into it. We didn’t stay long, sort of made a mental note and headed off. Seed planted.
The week before we left, in July 1988, we had a farewell party at my parents’ house in Frimley Green, Surrey. It was a large house, my Northern Irish mother ran a big nursery school there, my bagpipe playing Scottish father was the village doctor. I am one of six children and between us all, we had plenty of parties.
We got some decks, set them up in the rumpus room, (the largest room in the nursery), put some strange silver paper my Mum had rolls of, over the lights, took the kids’ paintings off the walls, and played some records. We asked some friends to dj. too. One of my brothers owned some home made disco lights – a few coloured bulbs, flashing inside a wooden box, which we plugged in. Looked pretty cool actually. Kevin was there, wearing cut off denim shorts, (cut to just above the knee with the end bit turned up), a white vest and an A Certain Ratio whistle round his neck.
We played a mixture of 60s soul, 70’s funk, indie guitar music, Factory Records music and had ourselves a fantastic night. Around 70 of us. At about 6am Kev wanted to go to the gravel pit lakes down the Hatches in Frimley Green as it was such a beautiful morning. We walked around chatting and laughing in the early morning sunshine.
While in the States I wrote letters to some of my friends at home. Kev had started to go to Boys Own parties, the Trip at The Astoria and then Shoom. We were very curious to join in when we got home.
(Photo from Rolling Stone / Dave Swindles)
I rang Kevin last week to ask if he minded sharing any memories of Andrew Weatherall with me. His response was really interesting. He had known Andrew since around 1984. There was an amazing pub called The Hero in Bagshot, a few miles down the road from us. They had djs there on Friday nights and it’s where all the cool people went. I could not believe it the first time we went there, it was brilliant. Kev says Andy Weatherall used to go there. He was friends with a guy from Camberley called Mike. Kev remembers it was not long after new romantics and Andy dressed very noticeably and very well. He stood out and everyone knew who he was.
Kev had a job in a clothes shop in Guildford called Pulloverere and Andy started to go out with Sandra who also worked there. Kev remembers A.W. coming over on the train from Windsor to Guildford to hand deliver compilation tapes. One day, Kev saw him walking up the High Street, dressed almost looking like a monk, with a shaven head, large smock over his jeans and chains round his neck. Kev says he looked like Genisis P. Orridge.
Kev loved the tapes, he remembers tracks by A Certain Ratio, The Pale Fountains and Everything But The Girl and that the tape covers were handwritten and coloured in by Andy. Kev was also pretty sure that Andy had gone to a couple of gigs I’d put on at the Buzz Club.
In 1986 I was working in Our Price in Woking and one of the girls who worked there, Alice, was going to parties and talking about Andy Weatherall. This was the first time I had heard of him, or these parties.
In 1988, while Danny and I were in California, Kevin bought a Boys Own tee shirt from Terry Farley, and ‘that was it’. He saw Weatherall dj at Boys Own parties and thought he was amazing. Always mixing things up, tracks you wouldn’t think of going together.
When we got back from America the first thing Danny and I did was to move to London. I got the job as the band booker for The Rock Garden in Covent Garden and Danny was working at a vinyl, cassette and cd manufacturing company, Mayking Records, based in Battersea. This was January 1989.
We lived on New North Road in Islington, N1.
When we’d been living there for about 3 months, Kevin told us there was a Boys Own party at the Holloway Road Studios. A mad place. Outside it was a dusty old shop front with a massive platform boot in the window. I used to look at it from the upstairs window of the 190 bus on my way to the tube station every day and wonder what it was
We wore long sleeved tee shirts, baggy 501s, Argyll socks and Vans or Kicker boots. We danced and took it all in. We walked home in the early morning and talked excitedly.
A few months later we went to another Boys Own do, with Alice from Our Price and her boyfriend Simon. This time it was under the arches in Vauxhall. White brick arches. Bigger than the Holloway Road one, the toilets were like hired in ones, outside. This time I really noticed AW’s set. He played ‘Naive Melody’ by Talking Heads. We danced and got into it more.
Alice and Simon stayed the night back at ours. Simon was from Leeds and in a band called The Bridewell Taxis. We later booked them to play The Buzz Club.
Here’s a photos of the Boys Own party in East Grinstead, summer of 1989, taken by Dave Swindles and borrowed from his Facebook page. That’s Kev, bottom right, smoking. We weren’t at this one, but I read it’s where Bobby Gillespie and other members of Primal Scream, tracked Andy Weatherall down for the first time, after he gave their second album a good review in the Boys Own fanzine.
During those first months living in London, in 1989, Danny and I had put The Stone Roses and Primal Scream on at our club night in Aldershot. We had put The Happy Mondays on in 1987 and loads of other great bands in between.
After the Primal Scream gig, in October ’89, word got round that my Mum and Dad were away for the night and that there was going to be a party.
By the time the whole Primal Scream entourage arrived back at my parents’ house, I realised to my horror that all my records were now in London, no one was home and all there was to play was my Dad’s pibroch bagpipe music collection.
One of the most relieved I’ve ever been in my life was when Throb, Primal Scream’s guitarist pulled out a cassette of Sly and the Family Stone, popped it in the cassette deck, whacked the volume up and we had ourselves a party!
We had released a 12″ by Stoke’s, The Ruby Tuesdays a few months earlier, on our short lived Push Records which we ran with John Andrews and Sally Agarwal. They had supported Primal Scream that night. The Ruby Tuesdays brought all their gear into the house and played an impromptu gig in one of the rooms. Bobby Gillespie was last seen heading off at about 4am, on foot, asking which way Brighton was.
At The Rock Garden, club promoter, Frank Perkins, came in for a meeting with myself and Sean McDonnell, my boss, talking of starting a Boys Own type club night. Needless to say I was very enthusiastic and said to Sean we should definitely do this. A few months later, The Yellow Book Club started up on Friday nights. It was incredible. D.j.s like Terry Farley, Paul Oakenfold and Andy Weatherall all played. Danny and myself went every Friday night, took friends with us and met a whole new crowd there. The music was wonderful. It really was that moment when indie guitars and club beats started to meet.
I also started a Wednesday indie night at the Rock Garden and asked bands such as The Divine Comedy, Treebound Story (featuring Richard Hawley), The Waltones (featuring Mark Collins who later joined The Charlatans), and my old Dreamworld Records label mates, 1,000 Violins and the Television Personalities to play. I organised a release party for Saint Etienne through Heavenly Records plus had The Orb and Andy Weatherall d.j.ing on different nights.
One night Primal Scream all came along to my mid week night, with Andy Weatherall. I think his was November ’89, I got talking to Andrew Innes, one of the guitarists and we started laughing about the party at my parents’ house a few weeks earlier. He said they’d just been in the studio with A.W. and that it was sounding incredible. He told me that Andy had the track, ‘Loaded’ and was going to play it that night. I have a feeling this was the first play it got. I know it was played by A.W. at Subterrania in West London around this time, and it all kicked off to a packed Stereo M.C.s crowd. I think this was before then – there weren’t many people in the venue that night, I can’t remember who the band I had booked to play were (maybe Boys Wonder).
Sean Johnson who later joined forces with A.W. as A Love From Outer Space recalls;
‘I remember that gig now!!! He played the dub of Madonna express yourself and a William orbit remix of erasure’s cover of supernature as well that night. Just came back to me in a flash….. weird’
Also November ’89, The Stone Roses released ‘Fools Gold’ and we saw them play the Alexandra Palace in London, the Happy Mondays released the ‘Madchester Rave On’ e.p. with this Andrew Weatherall remix.
Playing Sabres of Paradise records back at the our basement flat in Highbury after being out all night. I can’t remember how often we saw A.W. dj. I now know, not often enough.
Andrew and Sean Johnston played the last Green Man that Danny and I organised, as A Love From Outer Space in 2011.
Everything with Andrew’s name attached to it was brilliant. You knew it would be before hearing it.
Fuck Buttons, who also played Green Man – this awesome A.W. remix.
A.W.’s work with Daniel Avery, sublime.
Andrew regularly performed at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, where John Andrews was part of the Caught By The River crew (John was one of the friends we had started Push Records with back in ’91)
‘ I was honoured to know him and adored him and as it has for so many, his death has hit me really hard. We spent a bit of time together over the last few years at Port Eliot as we used to stay in the same pub. He was an absolute sweetheart and I can’t quite believe he’s gone. I loved him for his dress sense, his bookish knowledge and cheeky sense of humour. He was a genius too.
He was signficant for so many reasons. I wasn’t at Creation when Screamadelica was released, I joined in the winter of 94…. I do REMEMBER coming round to your flat in Duncan Terrace and you playing the Weatherall 12″ of Come Together that you’d blagged that day, ‘off Jeff Barrett’. I remember us going to a party I presume Andrew dj-ed at in Villiers Street. It was a Boys Own job, Bobby G was there . So many memories, of Yellow Book, of the Gardening Club, of Full Circle. ‘Just what is it that you want to do?’ Well, sometimes I’d like to go back there just for a night with Andrew on the decks of course.We shared good times.
I was a fan first off and had the privilege to spend time in his company as part of the Caught by the River crew. I think the more that’s written about him the better, I’ve read a lot of pieces about him andit’s all remembrance of a life well lived’
Johnny Mathews had this to add,
‘The outpouring of love is off the scale eh…..there’s a message from a guy he met in Yugoslavia in 92…..he told Andrew how hard it was to get records so he took his address and sent him records for years!!!! Sums him up’
I’m going to finish off with words from Sean Johnston. Last year I sent Sean a track I made as Christine X, ‘Camden’. Sean not only did me an awesome remix under his Hardway Bros moniker, he also sent the original to A.W., who played it on his ‘Music’s Not For Everyone‘ radio show. Absolutely one of my proudest moments as a musician.
‘Sad times, so utterly unexpected.Jeff Barrett introduced me to Andrew around that time (early 1990s). I was agent for the Inspirals, Jane Houghton did their press from his office in panther house. I went to see Jane about something and Jeff asked me to go to lunch with him at the eagle in Farringdon rd, as he was meeting Andrew. I was delighted because he was my absolute DJ hero. I was very surprised to learn that we shared similar music taste and sense of humour and we just hit it off. Damn I’m going to miss him. ‘
Sean played a set as A Love From Outer Space a few days after A.W. passed, in tribute to Andrew Weatherall. I wasn’t there but reading the comments on social media it sounds like it was an incredibly moving night.
Here’s Sean’s set. Thank you Sean.