What’s Going On

Weekly Info Sheet

What’s Going On was a weekly record list / information sheet, which I handed out at my club venues from 1981 until the end of 1983. In May ‘81 , when I started to compile regular record lists, I begun to use What’s Going On as the heading for the info section, which mainly covered events I was deejaying at on the Jazz-Funk scene, but it would eventually become the name of the entire sheet with the first issue appearing on November 10th 1981, when Bohannon’s ‘Let’s Start II Dance Again’ topped the Floorfillers list and the big news concerned Kool & The Gangs impromptu visit to Legend the previous week following a live gig in Manchester.

Originally copied onto A5 sheets, What’s Going On was completely handwritten, with sections for Import Hot 30, Top 20 Floorfillers, UK Release Round-Up, plus news from Wigan Pier and Legend (and any All-Dayers I was playing). I also gave details of where the records on the list could be bought.

In January ’82 I had an A4 template made, which I could fill in by hand each week (the copy below being one of these). Then, in July ’82, a second template was made, with the Import List becoming a Hot 20 and the Jazz tracks I was playing now listed separately as Featured Jazz. There was also a Gig Guide, listing all the venues at which I was appearing that week and, rather than separate sections for Wigan Pier and Legend news, there was a general News Round-Up.

When I began to place the emphasis more on mixing, following my arrival at Legend in August ’81, I found myself in a dilemma. I’d always been a great advocate of announcing and back announcing the records I was playing, so people knew what they were and could go out and buy them, helping to move the scene on. However, now my approach was geared towards mixing, it was no longer possible for me to keep people informed in the way I had previously. Fortunately, What’s Going On provided a perfect solution to this problem, with people passing me a copy of the sheet whilst I was playing, so I could put a tick next to the record that was on. It became such a regular occurrence that there wasn’t even a need for words to be exchanged – I’d just see a hand stretched towards me with a copy of What’s Going On in it and know what was required. Then, the person could walk into Spin Inn (the North’s main import specialists) the following day, hand the copy of the sheet to the guy behind the counter, and come away with a copy of the record they’d heard me play.

Below is an issue of What’s Going On from May 1982, which was reproduced for my appearance at the Electric Chair Riot in Manchester exactly 25 years later, when I marked the anniversary of that momentous month via the selection of records I played (as outlined below, under the heading ‘Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1982’).

‘What’s Going On’ sheet – May 1982 (Click image to enlarge)

TONIGHT WE’RE GOING TO PARTY LIKE IT’S 1982!

Between 2am and 4am in Jilly’s Live Review, as a special feature of the Electric Chair All-Nighter, Greg Wilson (representing the Invisible Players along with Don Letts) will be revisiting an absolutely crucial month in the evolution of Manchester dance culture, playing a selection of the tunes he featured 25 years ago at Legend (or Legends, as the black crowd would call it), where he hosted the UK’s most cutting-edge black music nights every Wednesday from August 1981 until the end of 1983, pioneering the Electro-Funk scene in the process, which, in turn, laid the groundwork for the oncoming Hip Hop, House and Techno movements.

May 1982 is hugely significant as this was the month that the Wednesday night sessions went through the roof. Attracting its audience not only from Manchester, but all over the country, the night would enjoy extraordinary success, drawing a capacity crowd every Wednesday for over 18 months solid, with queues right up Princess Street, until Greg retired from DJing in December 1983.

Lindsay Wesker, the club reporter from Black Echoes magazine, and later one of the team who set up London’s massively influential Kiss FM, described his first visit to Legend in July ’82; ‘Quite simply, on a Wednesday night, if you’re not in there before 10.00, you may not get it. Why, you ask yourself, have these people turned out in their hundreds on a Wednesday night? Legend must rate as one of the top 5 clubs in the country. If the heaviest American funk is what you require, you’ll hear plenty of it coming out of the beautifully balanced, but highly dangerous PA. And as for the lights! This place has got ingenious lighting inside the dance floor! Above the dance floor is some half a mile of neon, which makes you think you’re inside the Close Encounters spaceship. If I’d walked out of the Legend front door and found myself on Mars, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The lighting engineer demonstrated the elaborate laser effects, and the other effects plus the sound system create one of Britain’s most conducive funking environments’.

Although we can no longer offer such spectacular surroundings, what we can do is bring you a musical feast circa May ’82 – the month that Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force changed the course of dance music forever with their seminal single, ‘Planet Rock, which heralded the Electro era.

On the reverse of this sheet is Greg Wilson’s ‘What’s Going On’ list from a quarter of a century ago this very week. ‘What’s Going On’, handwritten by Greg, was photocopied and given out at Legend and his other main venue of the period, Wigan Pier. It included a floorfillers chart reflecting what the biggest tunes were each week, whilst also listing the records that Greg had just bought on import, mostly from Spin Inn on Cross Street, the main import specialist in the North of England back then. Then there was the news section, with a particularly important announcement this issue – details of the forthcoming broadcast of Greg’s first ever radio mix, to be played on Mike Shaft’s weekly Soul Show, ‘Takin’ Care Of Business’ on Piccadilly 261, the following Monday night (May 10th 1982).

Greg’s mixes would literally become the stuff of legend and, to mark the anniversary a re-construction of this inaugural mix will be made available as a limited edition CD in selected Manchester record shops later this month.

May ’82 was also the month that Manchester’s most famous club ever, The Haçienda, opened its doors, but it would be a number of years before it would finally make its mark – all that lay in the future. Whilst the late 80’s were all about The Haç and its role in the mainstream explosion of dance culture in the UK, the early 80’s belonged to Legend and the underground. It’s only fitting that its influence should be remembered and celebrated at Manchester’s greatest underground night of recent times, the ever essential Electric Chair.


© Greg Wilson, 2007

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