How we met: Kris Needs & Annie Nightingale

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Kris Needs, 45, was born in Bristol. In 1976 he joined `Zigzag' magazine, covering tours by the Clash, Blondie and Motorhead. He then became a DJ and spent the late Eighties living in New York. When he returned to England he was employed to guest as a DJ at concerts by Prodigy and Primal Scream. Twice divorced, he lives with his son in Aylesbury

Annie Nightingale was raised in London. In 1969 she became Radio 1's first female DJ, and between 1978 and 1982 was a presenter on `The Old Grey Whistle Test'. In 1996 she compiled a CD, `Annie on One', and has recently published her autobiography, `Wicked Speed'. She is twice divorced, has two grown-up children, and lives in London

ANNIE NIGHTINGALE: I met Kris properly at the Brixton Academy in the late Eighties. We were DJing in the VIP area for Primal Scream. I was very nervous and intimidated by this whole new mixing thing. He said, "Don't worry - in New York, you play a record, then you stop it, then you start another." I went, "Great, why didn't anyone tell me before?"

We clicked and became close friends. Like me, he'd been through the punk era and was being accepted by the acid house people, as I was. I was concerned that this was another generation's music, why should they accept people like me? But they did. So we had that in common right from the beginning, and we also had our journalistic backgrounds in common. I admire his amazing ability to describe music in words, to find new ways to review stuff.

I don't know if Kris was ever in awe of me - you wouldn't know because he's too cool. We were round his house once, a bit worse for wear, and the phone rang. Kris went, "Oh dear, it's probably me mum, what am I going to do?" The phone kept ringing 'til he picked it up and went, "Hi, Mum." We all just collapsed. He's got this Tony Hancock humour, about the inevitability of things - he'll walk into the fire and shrug his shoulders saying, oh well, here we go.

There's no side to him. He's an incredibly genuine person and a very good friend. That's why he's so popular I think. People realise that this a bloke who is very compassionate. Kris helps his mates out.

We've had a lot of parallels in our lives, a tremendous number of ups and downs. When he was mugged, I thought, even that's happened to us both. I worry about Kris more than he realises, about his responsibilities as a father. He's had a lot to deal with lately but you don't interfere in people's lives. You're there to be supportive if you think people are overdoing it.

I do think the more adventures you have in life, the more chances you have to come a cropper. But what's the alternative? I feel we've got to keep pushing new barriers and discovering new frontiers. And then you find that people are following on behind you. I've always been a pioneer. I'm an Aries so I can't help that. I've got eight new ideas a minute. It's brilliant to pursue your dreams, and I think that maybe that's what Kris and I are both about. We're fortunate in that we are able to keep doing what we love doing.

KRIS NEEDS: I first met Annie at a listening party I organised for the first Orb album in 1991. I thought, why don't we get isolation tanks? So I found a place, and people were going in the tanks, lying in the water and getting the music pumped through. It was the brave ones who went in. Annie went straight in the tank, then came out and had a glass of red wine.

I was aware of Annie years before. She used to do a teatime show on TV and she'd be wearing a pair of kinky boots and I thought, oh, she's nice. I had a bit of a crush on her then - I was about nine. Then I watched her on the Old Grey Whistle Test and listened to her on Radio 1. The thing about Annie, she was kind of like your friend before you met her. She spoke to you rather than at you. That's why those people still ring her. Even though she goes out 'til five in the morning, she gets all the nutters calling in.

I used to see Annie quite a bit because her son, Alex Nightingale, manages Primal Scream and I did four tours with them one year. They're my best friends, like my family, and it was inevitable I'd bump into Annie. We did some after-show parties, and I was there when Annie did her first DJ-ing. She was nervous about it: she said, "I can't mix." And I said, "I don't either."

She gave these parties at her house in Brighton, and that was when I really got to know her. I went to DJ at one on a Friday evening and got back days later. It was brilliant. She had a Punch and Judy show, Primal Scream were there, and each room you went in someone was doing something different. There'd be pub breaks and then back to the mixing decks - I played for three days straight. My mate fell asleep in the loo and no one could get in for six hours. Now I have similar parties at my house.

Annie never really offers advice. I've had a difficult couple of months because I split up with my girlfriend, and got mugged, beaten up and robbed. My girlfriend was sectioned, and my son got done for shoplifting. He came over from New York when his mother died, so I'm a fulltime dad now. That's quietened me down. I've come to a sort of crossroads in my life. I've got a lot of projects on the go. I'm doing the Manumission book with Irvine Welsh and Howard Marks. Irvine's one of my best friends - I have a disco band with him called Hibee Nation. Then I'll be DJing all month.

Annie started her book before I started mine, but they're along the same lines. I'm enthralled by hers - she's been through a lot. She was mugged in Cuba. That was upsetting. She came back on crutches but soldiered on.

We're soulmates, Annie and me, partly - I hate to say this - because we're older people. We're not part of the trendy DJ fraternity. We've our own identities, we're not faceless DJs. We're not young wankers. We've had a lot of experience of life and we have a lot to tell the younger generation. We're younger than them in spirit. We don't care what people think, we know we're not young raving clubbers but we still go out and get nutted, and love music, and DJ. We have this common bond - a belief that we're not going to die so long as the music's going on.

`Needs Must (A Very Rock'n'Roll Life Story)', by Kris Needs, is published by Virgin, price pounds 7.99. `Wicked Speed', by Annie Nightingale, is published by Sidgwick & Jackson, price pounds 15.99

Comments