Tracking back: Story of Calder Valley DJ's 40 years in soul

WHEN are you having another big soul do in the Calder Valley?

That's the question often asked of local builder Mr John Raymond Taylor in the guise many music fans know him as - top northern soul DJ Ginger Taylor.

Well, the answer is "very soon" and what better reason than the publication of a new book which connects the man and music, On The Right Track, by another soul man Rob McKeever, marking his 40 years behind the decks.

The book is out this month but Ginger wanted to bring together the soul communities of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge again with a charity fundraising night which will be held on Saturday, July 25, at Todmorden Town Hall.

That night, from 8pm to 1am, Ginger and top northern DJs past and present will be spinning 60s, Motown and northern soul sounds.

With the Todmorden DJ's long-standing soul connections, guests are set to include the best in the business and proceeds raised on the night will go to Children With Leukaemia and Yorkshire Cancer Research. There will also be the opportunity to buy copies of the book, or get yours signed by its subject on the night.

Ginger lost his sister, Joy Louise, to leukaemia and has also lost friends to cancer - personal reasons for wanting to help charities and mark the launch of a very personal book.

He hopes the valley's soul music fans will support him on the evening, for which tickets are 6 and can be obtained at Cryers Newscentre, Todmorden (which also has the book in stock), from Grandma Pollard's chip shop in Walsden (owner Tony is Ginger's cousin and money earned by the young DJ when he worked in the family shop all those years ago helped start his record collection) and at Hebden Bridge Tourist Information Centre.

Dress is smart or "come as you were in the 60s!"

It's an excellent read, telling the story of Ginger himself, the key role Todmorden in particular played in popularising the music, and quite a bit about the town itself, seemingly an unusual setting for somewhere which took soul to its heart. Perhaps Todmorden should be twinned with Detroit.

It also tells the story of northern soul, how British DJs searching for exclusive and often expensive sounds made a quintessentially American music the hottest ticket around in the late 1960s and early 1970s, becoming resurgent in the last 15 years or so.

Rob McKeever knows his stuff and knows his man too, as the narrative traces Ginger's life from the music loving schoolboy to a man who has to balance his family commitments and developing his business with being one of soul's most in demand DJs.

It isn't - and hasn't always been - easy and with Ginger no longer the 20-year-old with boundless energy he is starting to organise his bookings with care. But as some of the hectic schedules referred to in the book demonstrate, he still covers a lot of miles.

It’s a bug which bit him as a teenager - his favourite soul cut of all time, Billy Butler’s The Right Track from 1969, lends its title to the book - and traces his story from its beginning at Style Youth Club through the legendary Rose Room, Burnley, Ukrainian Club and Bay Horse, Todmorden, Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino days in the 70s through to the international dates (Milan, Scandinavia, Valencia and dates in Germany and Switzerland all in the itinerary) he plays alongside the many weekenders or regular dates, like the Brighouse Ritz, in the 2000s.

It takes in legendary venues like Manchester’s Twisted Wheel club and legendary names, among them Jackie Wilson and many of the Motown greats.

It takes in his number one rarity, J. D. Bryant’s I Won’t Be Coming Back, issued on the Washington-based Shrine Records label, the purchase of which is interlinked with a very personal story when he was very ill.

Once you start reading The Right Track it picks up the tempo like a classic soul belter and you won’t want to put it down. It’s also an ideal primer for anyone who doesn’t know a thing about the northern soul scene to discover its appeal along the way.

And you can match the sounds to the dream for a very good cause on July 25.

l THIS year is Motown’s 50th anniversary - in our second feature next week (June 4) find out who Ginger rates at the very top of the tree from Berry Gordy’s enormously influential stable of artists, what makes a rare soul record become in demand and what makes a good soul DJ.