The original Soul Boy, London casual, DJ, producer and co founder of Boys Own. He’s always an interesting chap.
Holywell Street would like to welcome Terry Farley in for a visit. I’d prefer to call this a chin-wag rather than an interview as I’ve known Terry since the early 90s, we’ve always exchanged chat and more importantly, I’ve picked his brains for many years – at last we can now get it on paper. So from one trainspotter to the other …
Welcome matey, first of all … What were your musical roots growing up in London?
My Mum loved Tamala Motown and any black music while my old man sinatra and jazz, our family parties were all what i guess you would call ‘MOD ‘ music hower reggae was the music of North Kensington on the streets and that was the music of the kids.
We’ve spoken before and touched on the black influence which inspired a lot for you, did you mention sitting on a wall as kid listening to the Jamaican influences around your area coming out the houses?
We lived in a run down Victorian house no indoor toilet, no bathroom and a huge concrete air raid shelter at the bottom by the railway lines (my nan kept chickens in there) as nippers we would sit up on the flat roof of the shelter and watch the goods trains go up towards Willesden junction – next door had a Irish family and a Jamaican family, the old fella had a Ford Zephyr car with leopard skin seat covers and played reggae out his back window all day, the bass drove into my soul .
We’ve also spoke in the past about those early Skinheads and how well turned out they were also their music, they were obviously not racist. What kind of labels did they have?
I had two older cousins who wore the gear but never had crops, had never heard the word ‘skinhead ‘ or seen anyone with a crop until two lads (one blond, one ginger) turned up at my school on the white city estate ‘sir Christopher wren’ they were like pop stars, kids following around all day, it was definitely a look for maybe two years before a craze with a name. It seemed that everyone who went to football and liked music and clobber was a ‘skinhead ‘ by 1970. What ever colour, never heard about racists and skins until the soppy lot who came around the time punk went mainstream. For me, I was too young to go to pubs or clubs and we never had any youth clubs around Latimer Road. It was at the football where you checked out what the smart lads were wearing and where we wore our best gear (sadly my 13-year-old self was more of an admiring obsessive than anything else)
I always felt the same at the match, it was like a working class catwalk I was always crowd watching at Celtic. That area Kings Road/Fulham and near by Loftus Road must have been cutting edge at the match?
The Northerners were always a scruffy bunch even Man Utd – in 68, QPR got into the First Division for the first time and our end ‘the Loft’ got taken over by the bigger clubs (don’t remember any violence just sheer weight of numbers) and Man Utd had thousands in the Loft, all scruffs wearing red-and-white painted construction helmets. Chelsea turned up for a Testimonial pre-season and were all mid-teens in pastel coloured sta-press and Harrington’s, never seen a big mob of kids all dressed the same, that was it for me, it sealed my obsession.
What was the track they use me to play at Chelsea on the tannoy the one everyone would clap to?
Harry J and the All Stars – Liquidator, they still do at every game.
That was it … Like a theme tune of the terraces but has continued? Where does the soul boy scene start for yourself in all this?
Well, I was too young to be a decent baby skinhead, then the continuation of the MOD to SKINHEAD line was obviously Soul Boy, same kids off the same estates and suburbs dancing to the new music out of Chicago / NY and Detroit, it just made obvious sense. All the best girls were into it and were dressing like Biba girls and the boys a mix of Bowie circa 75 / Roxy music and happy days style ‘Americana’. We were all the right age all together 16 to 18 that’s the age when you ‘own’ a look, when you all dress in a similar style and strut about like nothing that came before mattered, the period before Punk (1976) saw kids sporting wedge haircuts, plastic sandals, mohair jumpers , dungarees after Punk a lot of the weirder soul boys deserted the ship and from 77-79 it went up market. South Moulton street rather than Kings rd. – Italian knitwear, Lacoste tops, Fiorucci jeans anything that was expensive and designer. Around 79/ 80 the whole scene blew up and went commercial with all-dayers bringing in a younger crowd, they didn’t see the fashion link in the way we did and so most of our crowd fucked off to the cooler Soho scene where you had all kinds of styles going on.
Those all dayers must have been top times. So the London Casual would be perhaps born from this?
They were the commercial end of a great look
The wedge Barnet was nod seen as divvy to be honest. At the match it was MA1 jackets. Lonsdale pastel sweats Lois jeans and ‘boxer haircuts’ short side parting 60s ivy style. Adidas samba the only trainer worn the nasty brown suede ones that everyone wore playing five-a-side.
I visited south London around 1985 and they mentioned soul boys I wasn’t aware of what this was until they pointed out a group which were actually what I know as casuals, was this a crossover maybe tied in with modern day soul?
Lacoste, Burberry, Lois, Fiorucci, Gabicci etc were all worn around soul clubs and the disco pubs on the old Kent Road aHackney Road 1980 onwards.
I was to old to be a casual but I just wore the stuff I already wore plus a few items such as the BJ / Bjorn Borg elites – for the match.
We’ve spoken about Stuarts and the area around Chelsea and QPR and the crews that hung about there in the past, what was the shop like initially? You mentioned a lot of cabbies and black lads shopped there as well?
Stuart’s sold ‘ casual wear ‘ to the local community i.e. slacks Gabicci style jumpers, suede bomber jackets.
The West Indian singers had adopted the look from the NY Italian American wise guys circa 71 (I think mean streets film) loads of football lads went into Stuart’s then winter 81 the Pringle craze hit the London terraces and Stuart’s jumped all over that.
I think you mentioned a lot of ‘taxing’ went on in the area around Stuart’s with certain mobs and gangs then? Was it any teams are in particular?
The Ladbroke Grove lot used to tax kids coming out especially those from outside the area
Once the casual thing went nationwide you would get kids from all over the country going to Stuart’s
Snide tactics in my opinion.
When the casual scene kicked off did it come across as being at all right wing influenced? There were a lot of mixed race lads in firms initially?
No, Casual was a link from mod to skins to soul boys, what happened was the first London ‘casuals’ were kids who had been clubbing ( Arsenal and Ladbroke grove had battles at the Lyceum and Arsenal and Under-fives down the Hackney Road) Once the younger kids who had been skins started wearing the clobber they brought the politics in but the NF never got a foothold at Spurs or Arsenal . Chelsea had a top younger casual lot that were racially mixed and other firms who were right wing but everyone were ‘Chelsea first ‘ and many prominent lads were black / mixed race – weird situations looking back but I think for most of the younger kids doing a Nazi salute meant fuck off to the wider public rather than a salute to Adolf – it was a bit like when Punk adopted Nazi symbols as anti-establishment and as a way to shock … all the London clubs had main lads of different races and colours while still having racists in the firms .. you can’t put normal rules of society onto hooligans.
Arsenal were always a well turned out mob, first on the scene with the labels, they should get more credit. Chelsea had a lot of lads from the Home Counties if I recall? Also quite a lot of Irish lived around Fulham area?
The Borough of Fulham and Chelsea was a working class one up until the late 60s when ‘the swinging sixties ‘ led to Chelsea as an area then nearby Fulham becoming really expensive to live which pushed out people . This Home Counties thing was simply because that part of London was the first to be gentrified . By the mid-80s Battersea was now the spill over for the middle classes who couldn’t afford Fulham or Chelsea, by the late 90s those who had purchased houses in these boroughs either sold up and moved to the outer boroughs like Bromley, Sutton and Wandsworth – or were stuck on sink council estates surrounded by the middle classes . It simply happened to Chelsea’s working class support first, look at Spurs match going support today practically none live in the borough same with West Ham who all come in from Essex and even Millwall with Bermondsey now a desirable borough for young middle class couples, meanwhile the estates that surrounded these newly re-populated areas are killing grounds of young teenagers; these senseless deaths are in my opinion, the number one issue in London. More children and young men are dying at the hands of each rather than by jihadi bombs in London, this is something nobody is addressing.
Best City in the world in my opinion but in recent years the working class are getting pushed out, a lot of them out the City all together.
Not only in recent years mate, my family included, a thirteen-year-old me were pushed out of North Kensington by the greater London council with two take-it-or-leave it offers … Dagenham or Slough! One 30 miles away the other an East London suburb that could have easily been the fucking moon. Demographics change quickly … Notting Hill was built for the rich bankers City workers then after WW2 left a lot of bomb damage, they all left for the suburbs leaving only the poor parts, the immigrants; Irish, Jocks, Blacks moved in, que 1980s it becomes trendy with younger whites coming back nowadays its back to its upper middle class origins, same as every Capital city in the world .
What was it like moving from that area of West London to Slough back then, culture shock?
No, the whole estate was GLC ‘slum clearance’ the families had moved out mainly in the 60s so the teenagers I went to school with had all been born in London but grew up in Slough, they wore bigger boots, had shorter hair and spoke with harsher London accents than anything I had seen or heard in Latimer Road.
Lol, luckily it was a short journey back into the west end. Slough and Windsor is where you met the Boys Own lot, a mix of football and music. How was Boys Own Fanzine perceived at Chelsea initially?
Slough had a great soul scene in the mid-70s to early 80’s mainly due to a great DJ called Alan Sullivan who had previously been a main face in the Shed, a few years older than everyone else his nights drew kids from all the estates and areas and helped bring a lot of violence to an end. We sold Boys Own at Chelsea to the lads we hung around with but looking back now, I think we were rather naive and on dangerous ground with some of the cartoons inside perhaps it was down to the respect the lads we went with that helped stop us getting any grief.
It was very left leaning in those early issues did it get sold at Arsenal as well?
No, you couldn’t go to other clubs you would have got a slap, other lads I know bought it from the outlets like American classics in Kings Road and Robot in Covent Garden. A South London lad I knew handed out copies to the Wackers who loved Millwall the dog lol …
Millwall the dog! Haha. I remember it. I liked the Fanzine when the club scene kicked off, also the parties they held, it always kept that slight football link. A lot of Boys Own fanzines took the piss, but it then became the gospel to a lot of bods. For yourselves probably a bit like looking inwards initially observing to being the observed?
It just reflected us and our immediate pals, what we were doing , what slang people were using, coming from the background we did we always loved being scary, some things we did deliberately to see what would happen like this kid from the Roundshaw turned up at spectrum wearing beat up old kickers from the early 80s, the fanzine was ready to go to printers but we stuck in the uppers ‘the kickers revival ‘ A month later the Kicker Shop on the Kings Road had lines outside on a Saturday morning, this actually was one of the reasons we threw in the towel . Andrew said he was 28 and didn’t want to be telling 18-year-olds what to wear! I tried to get a new crew to take it over but they got cold feet.
With Boys Own being very Left Wing. Did yourself and Steve Mayes deliberately set out to stir-it-up at Chelsea?
It was long time ago but obviously Sinn Féin and ANC posters were going to piss people off. The Rangers connection wasn’t so cut in stone back then doubt if we would do it today and get away with it especially with social media spreading news.
I remember the kickers revival! Must have a been about 1989. So, did the cali’s finish the original football lads in your opinion or was there a bit more to it?
At Chelsea by 87 the 3 main organised firms had all been involved in trials, one lad who went with ‘our lot’ got a life sentence for one incident and that and the club scene kind of killed it except for odd big games. A lot of what you would call ‘the casuals’ were going to things like Norman Jays ‘shake n finger pop’ rare groove warehouse parties. Loads of different groups all smoking weed and doing whizz then 88 came along, after Boro at home May 88 … I never went to a football match until 1994.
Did Shoom have a few ex-football bods come down?
Of course, but Shoom was a club for house-heads some might have been football where as other places like Clink St; Limelight; Centre force affairs were full of football lads. Shoom was a great mix of the young kids from Special Branch over in London bridge (Nicky Holloways party ), West-End trendies, fashion Gays and our crowd who had been the core at the raid club.
Where did you meet Mr Weatherall?
At a trendy rockabilly Goth type pub in Windsor full of posh girls, then at the Mud club in Leicester Square a few weeks later, Windsor was a much nicer scene than Slough in the early 80s.
His music maybe differed from yours in places? He was a mix of punk and soul boy? Windsor was always cool.
Andrew was and still is into lots of different stuff, he was playing stuff like Lou Reed, New Order, Echo Bunnymen, tougher industrial electro.
Can you look back now and have a preference between your soul boy clubbing and the acid house onwards clubbing later?
I’ve been lucky enough to have witnessed what I consider 3 Golden periods of London clubbing the Funk / Soul scene of 75 to 77 with its early Punk crossover and great clothing and dancing, the Acid House era of 88 – 90 and the early 2000’s East London scene which was crazy as fuck – I don’t feel they were different though just a continuation of that MOD 1960’s obsession with Black dance music, clothing and pills.
Ok, it’s that time again, give us your top five dance tracks …
This could change hourly but …
1970’s: Brass construction – Moving On.
1980’s: Valentine Brothers – Money’s to Tight to Mention.
1990’s: De la soul – Roller Skating Jam makes ‘Saturdays’ (david morales 6am mix)
2000’s: AME – REJ
This week: YUKSEK – I Don’t have a Drum Machine.
Nice one! Top five label garments? …
Levi Vintage, New Balance, Buzz Ricksons’, The Real McCoy’s, RRL
Football clobber 70s / 80s: Lacoste, Chevignon, Fiorucci, Ball Jeans, Replay shirts
London for me had the best clubs scene/club nights probably due to the one-off parties. Could you name your best venues in what City?
Up north I loved ‘Back 2 Basics’ the crowd were from all over the north, the DJs always so into the music, they educated that crowd so well and Dave beer is a ultimate club pied piper.
In London so many but I miss The Cross a lot, Scotland it’s definitely Gareth Somerville’s Ultragroove parties in Edinburgh good set of lads, really into House and their clobber.
A few Hibs lads you met at Ultragroove and the Citrus Club? I believe you have a wee soft spot for Hibs up here?
Citrus most certainly mate, ultra, they all seemed to be Hearts. I like both Edinburgh sets of lads and the Motherwell lads at Colours plus the Celtic lads I played for up in Glasgow a few years back.
Yeah, Let’s go Way Back was a top night in Glasgow a crowd Celtic lads were there. Is Faith Fanzine still on the go?
Na, we slung in the towel with Faith the mag as we had covered 90% of what we wanted to.
You’ve done done a few remixes. Primal Scream Loaded among the best. Which one stands out for yourself?
‘loaded ‘ without a doubt – Bobby said it was his fave mix and I warmed up at Amnesia for them a few years ago and he gave me a lovely shout out mid-set. I really didnt know what I saw doing in the studio other than what I wanted – and I wanted a vocal version to stand up to Andrews amazing Dub speacial
Boys Own parties were a thing of legend. Sometimes flanked by the OB, a very mixed crowd, lots of mischief, great music and top people, which is your most treasured memory of those times?
“Flanked by OB” ? they raided us once at Lambeth walk and Cymon was nicked and they nicked the cash. We had pop stars, models, urchins, criminals, different sexualities and races, my memories were how stressful it was, trying to live up to the hype and expectations.
How do you see dance music today with the younger bods? Do you prefer doing a gig with our crowd still?
I like playing OLD music to younger crowds and NEW music to mature clubbers.
To finish off … The best DJ of all time is….?
Who I’ve danced to and played his music … Frankie Knuckles
A pleasure to speak to you matey, thanks for popping in.
No worries, cheers.