David Hepworth: The best DJs don't need to put on an act

Jimmy Savile claimed never to have owned a record. But he knew how to get on

Share
Related Topics

Last year the dance music magazine Mixmag ran a poll to determine the best DJ in the world. The winner was Tiesto, who you may not have heard of. I voted, with tongue in cheek, for Jimmy Savile, who you definitely will have heard of. I voted for him because in Leeds in 1943 he invented the whole business of playing records for people to dance to.

Nobody had thought of this before. Savile, who died at the weekend aged 84, charged people a shilling for what he billed as "a record dance". When they started shuffling round the floor in response to the tunes he was spinning, Savile felt a new power – a power that's familiar to the Tiestos of today.

In recent years he recalled that occasion in wonder for the book DJ History. "What I was doing was causing 12 people to do something. I thought, I can make them dance quick. Or slow. Or stop. Or start."

Savile claims never to have owned a record, even in the 1960s when he was fronting the Teen and Twenty Disc Club on Radio Luxembourg and orchestrating the screams at the NME Poll Winners Concert from the Empire Pool, Wembley. He never mastered the basic duty of the DJ, which is saying, "That was....and this is..." He was the first and last presenter of Top Of The Pops, in which capacity he never learned to time a link, usually filling the gap between his last words and the band's first note by describing circles in the air with his cigar, or rattling his medallion.

Nonetheless he had enough business savvy to work in a senior capacity for Mecca dancehalls before getting on the radio, knew what it was like to work in a coalmine as a Bevin Boy, fought as a professional wrestler, and earned millions of pounds for charity.

Over the years, various smart profile writers and television producers tried to get him to drop the act. They usually came away convinced that it wasn't an act, which they found even more disturbing.

Most DJs are a little bit mad. If they aren't when they begin their careers, then a few years sitting alone talking to people they can't see means they generally end up that way. The average DJ nowadays is either a transferred television personality or some worthy soul who did media studies. They pretend they don't have an act, which probably means they're fooling themselves far more than Jimmy Savile ever did.

David Hepworth's numerous magazine editorships include 'Smash Hits' in the 1980s

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The app is due to be launched in San Francisco initially, with other 300 people currently on the waiting list  

Is it too much to ask that people turn up to meet you when they say they will?

Simon Kelner
Dylan Thomas drank himself to death in New York aged just 39  

All this Dylan Thomas fever is telling us only half the story

John Walsh
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?