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"This Thing of Ours" Soulgate Review

As published on Soulsource.net, June 2003

As I am typing there is a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye and a real sense of pride as I recall the events of Saturday 28th July 2003. The day when hundreds came together to celebrate our friend and mentor, Randy Cozens, a TRUE SOUL MAN!

For myself and Taffy the preparations had begun several weeks before, when Randy first told us he was ill. At that stage only close friends and family were aware of just how serious the cancer was and we had agreed to help him out by organising the 18th Southgate Alldayer on his behalf. I chose the title ‘Maxine, The Mob & Me’ for the event after the last tape he had sent me with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and others on it (as we both shared a love for Mafia faves and the Rat Pack!!!). I felt it was apt for the Alldayer and would raise a smile with him to boot.

We had so wanted him to be there, as always, but time beat us all. Soul man to the last, he had expressly stated that the Alldayer was to go ahead no matter what and, following his passing, we were all determined that his last wish would be carried out and be a fitting tribute to the man and his music. A joyous celebration as he would have wanted. I feel that wish was more than fulfilled…….

The sun was shining on what was to be a glorious hot day in downtown Southgate.........

Jane and I arrived at the ‘Rising Sun’ for 11.30am to be greeted by the collective mugging of the rest of Letchworth’s 6T’s Mafia, bedecked in the memorial T-shirts, and more than a little banter of a very dubious nature! 12pm and the doors opened and Trickster and his new lovely wife, Etsu graced the decks for the first set, spinning some stomping Northern monsters from across the eras. The standard had been set with a cracking start.

Many of us were quite concerned about Tricksters memory problem. He obviously has one as he can’t seem to remember who he is and what he looks like, judging by the number of flyers, stickers and magazines that adorned his record box with his face and fine dancing moves plastered all over it!!!!!!! Remember if you see him, remind him who he is as he may be a little confused?

From here on the numbers started to rise and the DJ’s began to gather (although as usual it was the normal scrum, fighting for prime times etc). The list of DJ’s for the early sessions up to 8pm included the lovely Jo Wallace (who spun a great West Hampstead memories set that saw me trying for my first cardiac arrest of the day); Ivor Jones, Steve Gaunori, Teff, Buey (a man with mad facial hair and an even madder sense of dancing style), Mike Ritson amongst others. (apologises for anyone I’ve left out but my youngest has chewed the list!) The sets ranged from classic 6T’s to current Modern Soul movers that kept the crowd shuffling away throughout the day.

This being Soulgate there was a fantastic atmosphere as usual with the accent not only on the quality soul being spun but also on the social side, with many new friendships being forged and many old ones being saluted over many many MANY drinks at the packed bar (can someone tell my wife Jane as she can’t remember a thing past 3pm-hmmmmm).

This to me is one of the reasons why Randy's alldayers have always been a ‘Must’ on the London calendar. He never lost sight of the fact that ‘This Thing Of Ours’ should be about, not only great music, but also having fun with great mates and building what can only be described as a ‘Soulful Family’. Those that attend will understand completely what I mean, those that have never been can only imagine what it is like to be stood in the middle of a jam packed room, singing at the top of your lungs to Annette Snell, Teddy Pendergrass or the Soul Brothers Six ‘I’ll Be Loving You’ (all Southgate anthems), arm in arm with people who before this day were complete strangers to you but who now, at this time and in this place, were your brothers and sisters. This is the magic of Soulgate, this is Randy’s legacy.

The sun shone all day and the numbers started to get bigger by 5pm. A special mention to Paul from Dublin who made the journey for the event and who came up to the decks to express just how good he thought it was. Top bunny. Many people chose to sit outside, watching the world go by to a soundtrack supplied by some of Detroit’s, Philadelphia’s and New York’s finest. The atmosphere was building and many commented that they felt the evening was going to be one to remember. The shout of ‘Free Food’s Up!!’ put that anticipation on hold as the need for nourishment of an unsoulful kind took over.

The raffle tickets were going fast and many a loving look was passed over the table stacked full of prizes and auction items donated by Bee Cool Publishing, Dave Godin, Ady Croasdell, Keith Hammond, Dave Rimmer, KRL Promotions, Richard Searling, Scenesville, Drunken Monkey, Kolla, and both myself and Taffy. (Our eternal thanks and gratitude to you all for your support.)

The evening came and saw the Rising Sun packed to the rafters with an atmosphere to die for. Mick Smith, Roger Stewart, Ion The Greek (not Colin The Greek as Seabrook called him), Tony Smith and Terry Jones all had the honour of getting the crowd moving and boy did they do a great job! Stomping Soul mixed with upfront Modern and a generous dollop of West Hampstead Rhythm ‘n’ Soul, Deep Soul and mid-tempo gems that Randy had introduced to the scene first (including Bobby Kline, Soul Brothers 6, Jerry Ganey, Theola Kilgore, Lou Johnson…the list is endless.) I admit that there were more than a few of us with tears in our eyes when these were being played. Terry’s set was fantastic and there were many comments saying the same. Top man-top set!

The raffle draw took place at 9pm with yours truly behind the mike and being heckled at every stage by not only the bunch of reprobate girlies down the front (hi ladies) but also my wife! Taffy, who was still able to stand upright at this stage quite surprisingly, did his best to keep things moving along but kept getting engaged in deep chat with just about every winner – Muppet!

Next was the auction and Taffy took over for this. I feel that he may not have quite grasped the job description of what is required for an auctioneer as on the very first item, the rather wonderful James Brown Rubber Duck (I kid you not!!!) donated by me and that he said wouldn’t raise 10p, we had an opening bid of £5 on. Taffy’s jaw dropped as he uttered those memorable words ‘WHAT! For this piece of shit!!!!???’ His jaw was positively Bob Cratchett like when the final price of £26 was reached. I of course gloated at every opportunity at my superior ability to know what will raise money and what will not. (Note: It transpires that the lady who won was actually using a friend’s wallet and money that had fallen asleep I believe. Top woman!)

The other items included a set of Stax UK picture cards that went for £55, signed copies of 'Casino’ (by Maxine Brown & Dean Parrish) and Dennis Coffey’s book (signed by him obviously – DOH!) £50, a James Brown doll that was donated by Darcy I think and who won it back in the raffle and then asked for it to be auctioned off that raised £55, a picture of Ady looking more dodgy than usual that Kolla paid £30 for and our star item….Dave Godin’s own copy of the ‘Greetings to the UK Motown Appreciation Society..’ 45, complete with Dave’s ‘The Detroit Report’ booklet that raised £150. However, I feel I should point out here that Toby was winning the bids at £120 but sadly was outbid by someone else in the room at £150. His face dropped, his heart sank, a tear made it’s lonely way down his ashen cheek….but not as much as it did 30 seconds later when he realised that the person who had outbid him was none other than his wife who hadn’t realised he was the winning bidder at that stage when she placed her bid on his behalf! There are some things that money can’t buy – for everything else there is Toby’s missus. Priceless.

I have to say the whole auction was a good laugh and everyone there entered into the spirit of the event. Even Ian Seabrook who was happily bidding on a few items and who it was pointed out over the mike was obviously there without his wife Kay as he was bidding quite openly and without a hint of fear that we have come to associate with him when out with the lovely Mrs Seabrook.

It was then a return to the music right up to the close. Mick Smith and Roger Stewart did the honours playing a mainly West Hampstead memories set mixed with 100 Club toons that really set the seal on what had been an already fantastic night up to then. The place was dripping sweat and every available space was utilised for dancing, including the wall outside (and I hope someone got a photo of the little girl and her dad giving it some soulful welly on it.) Taff and I were doing the last hour but sadly the Noise Police moved in at 12.15am and shut us down an hour early, allowing us only the chance to spin Flame N King ‘Oh Happy Day’, Ann Sexton’s ‘You’ve Been Gone Too Long’ and the Tyrell Corporation’s ‘6,O, Clock’.

Then it was all over, the end of an era and the close of what had been a very emotional day for everyone. Over £1400 had been raised (with Johnny T and all at the Valatone adding another £400+ the following day from their door sales that night) and the end saw many hugs and emotional goodbyes.

I think all that were there would agree that it was a memorable day and a fitting farewell to one of London’s TOP Faces. The scene is never going to be the same again and he will be missed by all his friends but we know that somewhere out there, at a dancehall ‘up there’, he’s stood at the bar, tape in hand, complete with his usual comments on each track, waiting for us to arrive and kick of his latest event: Soul(heaven)gate. You know it!

God bless you mate. Your gonna be missed more than words can say.

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  • Best line of the day has to go to Jon Buck commenting on our money raising ideas: Oi! Having heard you were holding a raffle, auction, collection and charity T-shirts and posters I was half expecting to see a Northern Soul Charity Car Wash being held outside the pub!!!! If only we’d have thought of that sooner!
  • Embarrassing moment (Jesus there were loads throughout the day so I’ll go with mine): Me running up to Mick on the decks and raving over the Motown record he just played that sounded absolutely brilliant, obviously some rare acetate he’d just got from Mr Anderson in Kings Lynn I was thinking. Then having to suffer Mick’s gloating grin under that ‘Saddam’ tash of his as he gleefully pointed out it was ‘Anit no mountain high enough’ by Marvin & Tammi – a record that I own just to compound my misery! SHAME! SHAME! OH THE SHAMEEEEEEEEEEE!

The Big O
Neil Oppegaard

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