Greg Wilson (DJ)
Greg Wilson is a DJ and producer associated with both the early 80’s electro scene in Manchester, and the current disco / re-edit scene, for which he’s acquired a global following. He was born in Wallasey on Merseyside in 1960, and began his career as a club DJ at the age of 15 with a schoolfriend Derek Kelsey (later known as DJ Derek Kaye.) To begin with, Wilson was known for playing funk, soul and disco records with residencies in clubs in New Brighton between 1975 and 1980. At the start of the eighties, Wilson moved to a residency at the legendary Wigan Pier, making his mark as a jazz-funk specialist via their weekly Tuesday night session that would subsequently pick up the Blues & Soul award for the North’s best club (Wilson would also be named best DJ).
With his primary interest being black music, Wilson's nights at the Wigan Pier covered a spectrum of black music styles. But it was in his championing of the early electro records that he became known nationally - whilst working at Wigan Pier, he was offered an ailing Wednesday night residency at Legend in Manchester and was soon pulling in a predominantly black crowd to listen to the new electro-funk sound of groups like the Peech Boys, D-Train and Afrika Bambaataa. One of those in attendance was Mike Shaft, a DJ fronting a black music show on Manchester's Piccadilly Radio. Shaft wasn't a big fan of the new electro music, but he recognised its popularity and asked Wilson to record some mixes to play on the show. These mixes soon developed a popular following, and are still talked about as influential to this day.
In 1983, Wilson was invited to start a residency at the newly opened The Haçienda club in Manchester, starting the club's first weekly dance night. The night helped the club develop its later reputation as the home of cutting edge new music.
Other firsts for Greg include being the first DJ to mix live on British TV (The Tube on Channel Four in February 1983), putting together the first UK re-edit (Paul Haig ‘Heaven Sent’ 1983) and teaching Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), then a young aspiring DJ called Quentin, how to scratch (December ’83).
Despite these successes, in 1984 Wilson retired from DJing to face a new challenge: he began producing records rather than playing them, and in 1984 was involved in all but one of the tracks on the Street Sounds ‘UK Electro’ album as co-writer / producer. This included ‘Style Of The Street’ a track from the influential Manchester breakdance crew [Broken Glass] (who he managed during 83/84), which 20 years later would be sampled for The Prodigy hit ‘Girls’.
Between 1987 -1991, Greg would manage / produce Manchester’s Ruthless Rap Assassins, which included former Broken Glass member Kermit (who’d later hook up with Shaun Ryder to form the successful band Black Grape). The Rap Assassins released 2 critically acclaimed albums via EMI, 1990’s ‘Killer Album’ and ‘Th!nk (It Ain’t Illegal Yet)’ in 1991. Their best known recording, ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’, a minor chart hit in 1990, which focused on the plight of West Indian immigrants coming to the UK in the 50’s and 60’s, was named amongst Mojo (magazine)'s ‘50 Greatest British Tracks Ever’ in 2006.
In 2004 he re-visited his Electro-Funk past, compiling the ‘Classic Electro Mastercuts’ album, part of the influential ‘Classic Mastercuts’ series released by Beechwood in the UK, making a few rare DJ appearances during this period to promote the album.
The following decade would be something of a wilderness period for Wilson, but in 2003 he set up his own website electrofunkroots.co.uk to document the rise of electro. Returning to the DJ scene on 20 December 2003, the Music Is Better Night he played in Manchester proved to be a catalyst for Wilson. Before long he was picking up an ever increasing amount of bookings throughout the UK, and eventually Europe and the World, gaining a newfound legion of fans, many young enough to be his children. A major catalyst in this was the release of his acclaimed re-edits compilation Credit to the Edit in the summer of 2005 on the Tirk label, which included some original tape edits from the 80’s. The album helped establish him, once again, as a scene leader.
Apart from working as a DJ, Wilson also writes on various aspects of dance / black culure with articles published in magazines / webzines including Wax Poetics, Clash, Grand Slam, Strobelight Honey and Discopia.
Nominated in 2008 by DJ Magazine for outstanding contribution, and also named amongst their top twenty remixers of all-time, Wilson’s edits and mixes continue to feature on the playlists of DJ’s in every continent.
On 17 January 2009 Wilson’s reputation was further enhanced when his Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 became something of an instant classic, receiving almost universal acclaim and, in the process, providing the perfect way to mark the 5th anniversary of a remarkable renaissance.
Credit To The Edit Volume 2 was released in November 2009, and in April 2010, as part of their Essential Mix 500 special, Radio 1 selected Wilson’s Essential Mix as one of 10 classics than spanned the show’s near 17 year history.
His blog, Being A DJ, was launched in June 2010. Wilson describes it as "not a DJ blog as such, but more a blog by someone who happens to be a DJ".