Norman Jay

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Norman Jay
Norman Jay MBE.jpg
Background information
Birth nameNorman Bernard Joseph
Born (1957-11-06) 6 November 1957 (age 64)
Notting Hill, London, England
GenresSoul, disco, boogie, acid jazz, house
Occupation(s)DJ, label owner, producer, remixer

Norman Jay MBE (born Norman Bernard Joseph on 6 November 1957) is a British club, radio and sound system DJ. He first came to prominence playing unlicensed "warehouse" parties in the early 1980s, and through his involvement with the then-pirate radio station Kiss FM. He is commonly attributed as having coined the phrase "rare groove".


Jay was born in Notting Hill, London, to West Indian parents. He played his first gig aged eight at a 10th birthday party, influenced by his father's record collection of blue beat, ska and jazz.[1] He soon "developed a love for anything soulful – particularly the sounds of black America".[2]

Music career[edit]

Sound system[edit]

In the early 1970s, Jay set-up a sound system with his brother Joey Jay, originally called "Great Tribulation". Following a trip to New York City in 1979, he decided to take this in a more serious direction. In 1980, it was renamed to "Good Times" after the Chic track, and made its Notting Hill Carnival debut.[3][4] Good Times was seen as "pioneering" at this time for introducing soul and disco music into a Carnival set, despite some opposition in the early days.[5][6] The sound system became a notable destination at Carnival for the next 30 years, with it located on the corner of West Row and Southern Row, Ladbroke Grove since 1991. Since the 1990s, the sound system has been hosted from its London Transport bus. In 2014, due to regeneration in the area, Good Times lost its original spot and has not appeared at Carnival since. Instead, Good Times has hosted its sound system at events and nights around the country.[7]


Jay established himself through being a founding member of the London pirate radio station Kiss FM in October 1985, on which he presented shows alongside its founders Gordon Mac and George Power. As a pirate, it was his "The Original Rare Groove Show" that led to the coining of the phrase "rare groove".[3] When Kiss 100 was launched legally in September 1990, Jay hosted the first of what would become his "Musiquarium" shows.[8] He left the station in October 1993.

In April 1997, Jay joined BBC London with a radio show named "Giant 45".[9] The show broadcast until February 2008.[10]

Throughout 2006 and 2007, Jay presented a series called "The Funk Factory" on BBC Radio 2.[11]

More recently, he has hosted regular shows on Soho Radio.[12]

Warehouse parties and club nights[edit]

In addition to appearing on radio, Jay was involved in hosting the sound system at illegal warehouse parties in venues across London, under the name "Shake 'n' Fingerpop".[13]

Jay co-founded the first Paradise Garage-style club in Britain – "High On Hope", at Dingwalls in Camden.[3][4] Between 1989 and 1994, he also ran a night at the Bass Clef in Hoxton.[14]

In addition, he was a regular in the early 2000s at The Big Chill festival.[8]

Record labels and productions[edit]

Jay established the Talkin' Loud record label with its founder DJ Gilles Peterson in 1990, spearheading the acid jazz scene.[4]

In 2000, he released the first of five compilation albums called "Good Times" in conjunction with the sound system. This led to a number of other 'spin-off' compilations.

He remixed the 2004 track "Lola's Theme" by the Shapeshifters, and featured in its video.


Compilation albums[edit]

  • Good Times (Nuphonic, 2000)
  • Good Times 2 (Nuphonic, 2001)
  • Good Times 3 (React, 2003)
  • Good Times 4 (Resist, 2004)
  • Good Times 5 (Resist, 2005)
  • Giant 45 (React, 2004)
  • Skank & Boogie (Sunday Best, 2015)
  • Mister Good Times (Sunday Best, 2017)


  • "Message in a Dream" (High On Hope Records, 1996) - affiliated to Resolution Records

Notable remixes[edit]

Notable mixes[edit]


Jay was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2002.[4][15]


  1. ^ "Norman Jay - Biography".
  2. ^ Robin Murray (13 November 2015). "Collections: Norman Jay". Clash Magazine.
  3. ^ a b c Bill Brewster (9 January 2018). "Norman Jay MBE: These Are The Good Times". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Sean O'Hagan (23 June 2002). "Interview with Norman Jay, the godfather of club culture". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Josie Roberts (20 August 2018). "Don Letts traces the musical history of Notting Hill Carnival". Red Bull Music Academy. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  6. ^ Ian Burrell (28 August 2006). "Meet the king of the carnival". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  7. ^ David Ellis (25 August 2015). "DJ Norman Jay: Playing Notting Hill Carnival was more memorable than Obama's inauguration". Evening Standard.
  8. ^ a b Pete Lawrence (10 April 2018). "Stormin' Norman Jay's Big Chill special revives memories".
  9. ^ "BBC - London - TV and Radio - Norman Jay". BBC News. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 23 June 2006.
  10. ^ John Plunkett (18 February 2008). "DJ Norman Jay leaves BBC London". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "BBC - Radio 2 - Shows - Norman Jay's Funk Factory". BBC Radio. 13 November 2007. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007.
  12. ^ "Norman Jay MBE - Soho Radio London". Soho Radio London.
  13. ^ Miguel Cullen (10 February 2011). "Norman Jay Interview - Features - Clash Magazine". Clash Magazine.
  14. ^ Helen Nowicka (13 May 1994). "Dying note of a 10-year jam session: Hoxton became a mecca for jazz fans". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  15. ^ "'I'm not in search of the perfect beat': a conversation with DJ Norman Jay MBE". 12 May 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mister Good Times, Dialogue Books, 2019

External links[edit]