Twenty Years of Acid House
Mr C quizzes some of the acid house originators...
Twenty years ago, a wide eyed Danny Rampling and a mischievous milkman who went on to become Mr C were helping to lay the ground for the acid house revolution. Although both of them were aware that what they were doing was significant, it’s unlikely that either realised the full extent to which house music culture would captivate the world. Danny Rampling’s Shoom was one of the most celebrated parties in dance music history – held at a gym in Southwark, and famously started by Rampling after he spent a summer of wild abandon in Ibiza, it introduced thousands of clubbers to house music and lost weekends. At the same time, Mr C, alongside Colin Faver, Evil Eddie Richards and Kid Batchelor, was pushing a darker, edgier and truly acid sound at his Clink Street parties.
With this in mind, we thought it high time to pay homage to two decades of debauchery in the only way we see fit – by throwing a huge party at The End & AKA, and inviting back some of the original acid house pioneers to spin. Mr C will be headlining The End’s main room, joined by Colin Faver and Evil Eddie Richards. The Lounge is hosted by E Mix, and features Frankie Foncett, Kid Batchelor and Rob Acteson, whilst Shoom takes over AKA with Danny Rampling and Farley & Heller.
In preparation for the party, and to bring some of you young whippersnappers out there up to speed on the who’s who of acid house, Mr C had a chat to some of the guys who were there right at the start - Frankie Foncett, Rob Aceton and Kid Batchelor, to find out more, and dig out some memories.
Mr C: Where were you all playing back in 1988?
Frankie Foncett: A lot of places for a 20 year old, haha! Aside from Clink Street, I played at The Trip at Astoria, had guest spots at Shoom, Land of Oz at Heaven, High on Hope at Dingwalls, in Camden, and Biology.
Rob Acteson: I had guest spots at Biology too, and Genesis, plus residencies at The Dungeon on Fridays and Saturdays – and occasional Sundays and Mondays!
Kid Batchelor: I was at Shoom, Confusion de Londra, Camden Palace and Hedonism. And do you remember that proletarian workout known as RIP at Clink Street Studios?
Mr C: Of course! I was resident at Clink Street, for A-Transmission on Fridays, RIP on Saturdays and Zoo on Sundays. I was also resident at The Main Buzz which was an illegal party in Camden, and loads of guest slots at various places. I was also promoting and DJing at London’s first straight acid house night called Fantasy at HQ in Camden Lock with Evil Ed and yourself (to Kid Bachelor).
Mr C: I was a newbie DJ in those days. I was well known on the London circuit as an MC, but I’d only started DJing in late 1987. How long had you guys already been spinning?
Rob Acteson: About four or five years. I’d had a few weekly residencies from ‘83 / ‘84 onwards, playing hip hop, rare groove and soul - very badly!
Frankie Foncett: In ‘85 I’d started DJing with soundsystems like Rapattack, Norman Jay’s Good Times, Mastermind Roadshow and all them, doing the Notting Hill Carnival and warming up at Electric Ballroom in Camden.
Kid Batchelor: Yeah I started in the early eighties, it was the time of Electric Ballroom, Global Village, Lyceum, the Caister Weekends and all that.
Mr C: I quit my last real job – as a milkman – in ’87 to take my chances in music. Did you maintain a day job at the same time as being a DJ?
Frankie Foncett: I was the buyer for Black Market Records in Soho in ’88 and I’m very proud of the work I did there.
Rob Acteson: I only had a job until the first week of The Dungeon. I was working for a brand new newspaper called the Sunday Sport. I jacked it in very quickly when I begun earning more in a night than I was all week in my ‘normal’ job! The fact that I invited one of the Sport journalists to the first Hypnosis warehouse party who then stitched me up with an anti-acid house piece in the following week's edition had nothing to do with it…
Kid Batchelor: I didn’t have a job, but my belief is that I would have pursued a career in sport, particularly football, had it not been for my passion for music changing my life.
Mr C: Did you put out any productions?
Kid Batchelor: I was producing alongside Leslie Lawrence as Bang The Party. Our biggest track was ‘Release Your Body’ which was huge over here as well as in Detroit.
Frankie Foncett: I’d begun doing re-edits of unreleased tracks by Adonis and other house artists, but really I started to learn my production with Derrick May later in early 1989. Were you producing by then?
Mr C: Yeah, I’d done my first deep house tune with Evil Eddie Richards in 1987 called ‘Page 67’ under the name Myster-E. I spoke about the powers of the subconscious mind, positive thinking and meditation over a deep house backing track...
Mr C: Eddie Richards was a big influence and inspiration for me, as were Colin Faver and yourself (to Kid Batchelor). They were the guys that inspired me to learn to DJ. Who were your inspirations?
Kid Batchelor: Thanks! For me it was US DJs Dr Funkenstein and DJ Cash Money, and Tony Humphries. UK DJs included Froggy The Funkmaster, Chris Hill, Derek Boland, Mastermind Roadshow and Soul II Soul all had a big influence on me. Musically it was all about labels such as D.J. International, Easy Street, Island Records, Motown, Stax and so many more.
Mr C: Musically I was turned on by all good underground New York garage, Chicago house, Chicago acid and Detroit techno all from America, because that's where the soul was.
Rob Acteson: DJs for me were Linden C, Mr C, Eddie Richards, Rhythm Doctor, Frankie Knuckles, Louie Vega, Jazzy M and DJ Pierre. I hadn’t heard too many American DJs back then, Frankie & Louie were the first two. For labels and artists the list is endless, but one guy who had a big influence on me was Dave at City Sounds record shop in Holborn.
Frankie Foncett: The DJs that inspired me were John Jellybean Benitez, Bruce Forest and Larry Levan. In the UK, Derek Boland aka Derek B, Paul Anderson and Paul Oakenfold between ‘86 and ’88, they were the best to ever do it, period, in my eyes!
Mr C: What made you want to be a DJ?
Rob Acteson: Listening to people like Froggy and Derek Boland in the early to mid-eighties had a big impact on me. And an old northern soul DJ called Tony Class even further back. As soon as I heard them that was it.
Kid Batchelor: For me it was one night at the Paradise Garage, with Larry Levan, in an alcohol free environment. I thought “I wonder how it must feel to be up there?” The dance hit ‘Last Night a DJ Saved My Life’ by Indeep probably turned me on irreversibly. My values meant when I was in love with something, money meant nothing to me. Fatigue even less.
Mr C: For me it was after I’d made my first tune with Eddie. I knew then I wanted to do more and to really learn about production, and the best way to learn was to become a DJ. I also had a burning desire to take people on a magical journey and having realised that dance music had meditative qualities I knew this had to be my chosen field of work.
Frankie Foncett: The reason I wanted to be a DJ was purely for the love of music and the happiness it brought to people!
Mr C: If I could turn the clock back, I’d do it all the same. Actually, maybe not have been such an arrogant arsehole back in the day. Would you guys have done anything
Kid Batchelor: Were I to have my time again I’d have had better business practices.
Rob Acteson: I’d like to have taken more photos. And I’d have been a little less naïve and not trusted certain people.
Frankie Foncett: I would have taken more pictures too. I was so young and I only now know how special a time it was.
Mr C: Was there anything you disliked about the summer of love?
Kid Batchelor: Unfortunately the police, yet again, spoiled everyone’s fun by turfing yet another herd of diehard fashion victims out on the street. The club in question was Biology. Apparently the house clique had been drinking alcohol – gasp - until way past their bedtime, therefore causing them to - shock horror - enjoy themselves. Obviously, word was sent from above that clubbers should not be allowed to groove on the Sabbath, and should stay home and watch Harry Secombe and Thora Hird drivel on about their favourite hymns.
Rob Acteson: Yeah, the press and the government systematically destroyed it. The fact that a golden opportunity to unite an entire nation was missed in order to keep the drinks industry happy is a tragedy.
Mr C: Was there any special places outside of music in London that you loved to visit in ‘88? For me it was my bed!
Kid Batchelor: I used to love a taste of the Italian flava, those cool Latinos on the Riviera in
Rimini - Diabolika and Ethos Mama Club. Come get some!
Rob Acteson: If I wasn’t spinning I went to other parties on my days off. We went out virtually every night of the week for as long as I can remember back then. You could literally go out seven nights a week. There wasn't any time to do anything else other than grab a few hours sleep here and there. You could chill out in Victoria Park on a Sunday afternoon now and again but someone would always turn a car stereo on and start an impromptu party. Anywhere you went would end up thumping out house music.