Jimmy Saville RIP

ELLIOT RASHMAN (former manager of Simply Red)
Top of the Pops came out of Manchester. It was fantastic it being here when I was. Top of the Pops was hosted by Jimmy Savile, who had built up a name for himself DJing round Manchester.*

Jimmy Savile started off in Yorkshire. He did lunchtime sessions playing records for secretaries and clerks who would pay sixpence to dance during their lunch hour. He claims he invented the disco, [although] a disc library, the Peppermint Lounge in New York, was doing the same thing at the same time.

BRUCE MITCHELL (drummer from Durutti Column)

Me and Tosh [Ryan] knew a lot about Jimmy Savile. Tosh’s best friend worked for Savile in what might have been the Tropicana ”“ the Mecca Ballroom. Jimmy Savile was the DJ, that was his first gig. He had enormous flair. He had the gig full at dinner time . . . He ran the gig. He had his own security and he got involved in the security sometimes. He ran a very discriminating door and he enjoyed challenging the lads coming in. He had the place rammed all the time and bought a car and put a Rolls Royce grille on it. Then he was sent over to run the Bradford Locarno ”“ it was their equivalent of a musical Siberian salt mine, it was dying a death. Within a month he had that place rammed!

*An ex-coalminer from Leeds, Jimmy Savile started playing records in dance halls in the early 1940s. Savile’s claims to have been the first ever DJ are arguably correct and quite fitting in Manchester, which would become synonymous with DJ culture.

We once went on a school trip to the Jimmy Saville show, not sure why, it was to watch Olivia Newton John sing songs for THe Eurovision Song Contest. We were 11. It was an interesting experience…

For many he was the slightly strange figure on Saturday night TV of Jim’ll Fix It but in Manchester he is remembered as the man who invented the whole notion of the modern DJ, being the first to use twin decks. He also pioneered the idea of promoting his own nights and his run ins with promoters are legendary.

There are dark tales of baseball bats and a wilfull determination to stand his ground that may or may not be folklore. His flat in the city centre was for many years the all night hub where musicians and key players would hang out.

Famously he would become the first presenter of Top Of The Pops when it was beamed out of Manchester in 1964, the perfect wacky presenter with the inside knowledge to form the show…

Full obituary to follow…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I interviewed him a few years ago about his time as a DJ, pioneering twin-deck spinning just after the war and setting up an agency that rented out scores of DJs to northern clubs in the 60s and 70s…

    he hinted at some dark tales, what he’d do with people who didn’t pay him – seemed to involve heavies tying ’em up in the basement and beating the crap outta them – but there’s no doubt he was a bit of a ledge, if a somewhat strange one…

  2. Worked the mines, then started djing in Leeds, ie using a phonogram…met elvis, stones, jerry lee, Ali, name em he met em. I remember seeing LLcoolJ the first time and thinking jimmy will bling you to dust. A true originator in pop culture, quitr apart from the community side. He had the best flat in Leeds, overlooking roundhay lake.

    Ya don’t know what you’ve got til its gone. Proud to be related an all!

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