Dave Godin, who has died aged 68,
was a leading champion of black American music in Britain; a
prolific writer on the subject, he coined the term "Northern
Soul" to describe the highly-danceable 1960s rhythm and blues
which became a cult in such improbable musical outposts as
Wigan, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent, and which continues to form
a vibrant strand of radio programming to this day.
During the early 1960s, at a time
when soul music was strictly a minority enthusiasm, seldom to be
heard on radio or found in the charts, Godin founded the Tamla
Motown Appreciation Society to celebrate and promote the work of
Berry Gordy's Detroit record label. Godin became the label's
first British representative, and brought the first "Motortown
Revue", which featured the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas
and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, to Britain in 1965.
David Godin was
born in London on June 21 1936, the son of a milkman. He claimed
to have first become aware of rhythm and blues music as a
teenager when he heard a Ruth Brown record, Mama He Treats Your
Daughter Mean, being played in an ice-cream parlour at
Bexleyheath. It ignited Godin's Messianic insticts. Among the
first of his converts was Mick Jagger, a contemporary at
Dartford Grammar School.
After working as a
consultant for Tamla Motown, Godin went on to became a regular
columnist for Blues and Soul magazine, and in 1967 opened Soul
City - the first record shop in Europe to specialise in black
music. By the end of the 1960s, soul music was undergoing a
transition from the light, "uptown" dance music, often featuring
sweeping, anthemic orchestrations, typified by Motown, towards
the darker and denser syncopations of funk.
The flame of the
retro dance music was kept alive by all-night marathons in such
northern outposts as the Wigan Casino and the Golden Torch in
Stoke-on-Trent, where devotees would trade rare records like
religious icons. Godin christened the phenomenon "Northern
Soul", and his Soul City shop became specialists in the genre,
subsequently developing into a label of the same name,
excavating and releasing rare American records that would
otherwise have gone unheard in Britain. The label enjoyed a
surprise Number one with its first ever release, Nothing Can
Stop Me by Gene Chandler, but Godin's attempt to run the
business as a workers' co-operative led to its early demise.
In the 1970s,
rueing his lack of further education, Godin took a degree in
Film Studies and went on to work as a senior film officer for
the British Film Institute and became director of the Anvil,
Sheffield's civic cinema. A man of trenchant opinions and a
fierce opponent of film censorship, he enjoyed many lively
conversations with the then film censor John Trevelyan.
Godin was also a
passionate animal rights activist, a vegan, a fluent speaker of
Esperanto and, despite his avowed atheism, a supporter of the
Jain religion. But soul music was his abiding interest, and
Godin's view remained that of the purist, always tending to
favour the obscure over the commercial, championing the cause of
many artists who might have made only one or two recordings, but
which he regarded as classics.
In recent years, he
compiled a series of albums of just such rarities - Dave Godin's
Deep Soul Treasures - for Ace Records, which featured such
artists as Loretta Williams, the Just Brothers and Jimmy and
Louise Tig. The albums were greeted with universal critical
acclaim, and Godin described the series as the proudest
achievement of his life.
Dave Godin died on
October 15. He never married.