ADDENDUM – Nov 2012
I wrote this post over a year ago just after Savile died. Obviously in light of all the recent revelations, Savile is now a figure of hatred with his reputation in tatters, and if he is guilty of only a quarter of the things he’s accused of, then that this is exactly as it should be.
I’ve re-read this post several times over the last few weeks, and after much consideration I have decided to let the text stand unchanged, as the thrust of the piece is based on fact and not conjecture.
So the inventor of DJ’ing has died at the age of 84….
A bold claim I know (considering he latterly displayed such eccentric tendencies) but one that has been forwarded by many writers on the subject…
Take this excerpt from “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”, Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s definitive (and well worth reading) 1999 book about the birth and rise of the superstar DJ…
“The revolutionary concept of dancing to records played by a disc jockey was born not in New York, not even in London or Paris, but in the town of Otley, West Yorkshire. Here in a room above a working men’s club we find the very first example of the club DJ.
It was in Otley that an eccentric young entrepreneur with a deep love of American Swing decided he would like to play his collection of records publicly. In the US the DJ didn’t come out from behind the radio until the fifties, and while some of Europe’s pre-war clubs moved to records, these were played by the patrons, not a DJ. All this lends further credence to the surprising claims of a man who is probably the great-grandfather of today’s DJ – Jimmy Savile”.
Brewster and Broughton go on to tell the story of a young man pensioned out of the army with back injuries, who first played records publicly in 1943 and who subsequently commissioned the Westrex company to build him a proper disco system with the revolutionary idea of having two turntables to reduce the gaps between records… This albeit rudimentary system had its first public outing in Ilford, Yorkshire ….. in 1946.
To someone my age, Savile is synonymous with bad track suits, even badder hair, big cigars, seemingly endless charity runs and Jim’ll Fix It medallions (and yes I did write in hoping to get one, I wanted to meet the band Genesis…)
All of which, if you saw the Louis Theroux programme of a few years ago, seemed to hide a sad and complex character that always assumed there was a camera pointed towards him and that never got over the death of his mother.
Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG (31 October 1926 – 29 October 2011)