Critic and record-shop owner whose devotion to soul music
led him to form two influential record labels in the UK
Tuesday October 26, 2004
DAVE GODIN was a writer,
record label owner, publicist, vegan and animal-rights
campaigner, but it was as a single-minded and devoted
enthusiast of American soul music that he will be best
In the early Sixties, when
soul music was unknown to all but a hip minority of the
record-buying public in the UK, he championed the cause of
Tamla Motown and helped to build it into a force on this
side of the Atlantic.
He also founded his own
record label, Soul City, and coined the phrase "deep soul"
for the more adult-sounding and grittier examples of the
genre that he helped to discover. It became the name of
another label he owned and, in recent years, it graced a
series of various artist CDs that drew huge critical
acclaim. The fourth in the series came out only a few months
ago. He was also attracted to the grassroots following that
the faster, more danceable, forms of soul music in clubs in
Manchester, Blackpool and Wigan during the Sixties and
Seventies and named the music 'Northern soul' - a name that
is now enshrined in popular culture.
He also took the blame for
introducing the joys of black music to a boy who was a few
years below him at grammar school called Mick Jagger.
Dave Godin was born in
Lambeth and raised in Peckham. His father was a milkman.
During the war his family moved to Bexleyheath, Kent, and he
gained a scholarship to Dartford Grammar School. It was
while at school that his interest in black American music
first developed. He and a friend visited an ice-cream
parlour that had a jukebox. While there, he heard the record
Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean by the rhythm and blues
singer Ruth Brown and was hooked.
"I'd never heard a record
like that before," he recalled. "It was so earthy, so real
and the words were so adult."
He began to collect the few
blues and R&B discs that were issued in the UK, and through
letters to the music press met other enthusiasts. He also
developed a small coterie of friends at school, including
Mick Jagger, although he recalled that Jagger's mother
disliked blues music intensely.
He started work in an
advertising agency and as a committed pacifist refused to do
National Service, even though his father had once been a
professional soldier. In 1957 he travelled to Canada and
then made his way into the States where he saw such stars as
Lavern Baker, Fats Domino and Clyde McPhatter.
"Maybe that''s where I got
that slight missionary zeal in me," he said later. "I
thought it wrong that there was so much talent here, and
hardly anybody had heard of these people."
Back in England, Godin began
to champion the record labels formed by the Detroit
entrepreneur Berry Gordy Jr and took the name of two of the
labels to name the new Tamla Motown Appreciation Society. It
was the first time anyone had linked the two names and it
was to become the name of the label that, under the auspices
of EMI, issued the company's product in the UK.
But before that happened,
Godin had, in 1964, been invited to Detroit by Gordy, who
welcomed his views on soul music. He met Marvin Gaye, Stevie
Wonder and Martha and the Vandellas but recalled that the
Supremes were not originally invited to meet him because
they were not considered important enough.
He opened the first exclusive
soul music record shop in Britain, Soul City, in Deptford,
South East London, in 1967, before moving to Monmouth
Street, where he lauched the now highly collectable Soul
City and Deep Soul record labels. One of them, a reissue of
Gene Chandler's Nothing Can Stop Me, even manged to break
into the charts. He also began writing for soul music
magazines and developed a strong and loyal following After
the business and the labels eventually failed, he went back
into record promotion, but gave it all up in the late
Seventies to take a degree in film history at Sheffield
He still championed the soul
music cause with occasional articles and personal
appearances, before masterminding the series Dave Godin's
Deep Soul Treasures Taken from the Vaults, which started
appearing on the Harlesden-based Kent label in 1997. He also
oversaw a series of CDs called The Birth of Soul for the
Reviewers who took kindly to
the releases were sent handwritten notes by Godin thanking
them for their efforts. His contibution to the popularity of
soul music in Britain remains immense.
Godin, who never married,
died of lung cancer.
[Dave Godin, writer and
critic, was born on June 21, 1936. He died on October 15,
2004, aged 68.]