• James Hewlett

Dad Rock

I saw a picture yesterday of my dad that I hadn’t seen in a while and it got me thinking about a topic. I quickly noted it down and went back to watching the Colts lose again as I knew it would make for a half decent blog post and I’d figure out what I want to say while writing it.

The picture is an old publicity photo from his radio days. It looks like he’d signed it to someone, but I couldn’t tell you who or exactly when it’s from. Sometime in the early to mid-eighties, a little bit before I was born I would guess.

It got my thinking about music though. My old man was a DJ for the entirety of his short life and filled many different roles under that umbrella. He was a radio host for a while, a nightclub DJ, on cruise ships, doing mobile discos, karaoke and corporate events and even managed a band who’s practice room became my bedroom when I came along, just to name a few.

He was always involved in and around music, but despite this I would struggle to pin down exactly what my dad’s tastes were.

I know The Beatles were his favourite band and from listening to music with my mum she will still point out songs he loved, but it never really narrowed it down beyond the broad spectrum of sixties, seventies, eighties and some early nineties. If you asked ten different people who knew my dad what his favourite music was, I bet you would get ten different answers.

I was twelve years old in 1999 when he passed away at forty nine, I had grown up around music, I certainly knew what I liked and what I didn’t but I would say that my tastes, what I was choosing to go out and buy and listen to over and over again was just developing around that same time, like a lot of people. In the months before he died, my dad had just bought a CD rewriter and would jerry rig it in order to make CD’s of songs I wanted from his ever growing collection.

Like I would end up doing a few years later, going to HMV and picking up the new singles was a weekly trip for my dad. Except for me I was only buying stuff relevant to the rock nights I was playing, my dad would buy at least one copy of everything. He had a contract with the cruise ships that would dock in town and provided not only the DJ’s but the music they would be playing so when he walked in they would open a separate till just for him.

I think because he bought and played everything depending on the gig he was doing, my dads tastes never really honed down to any particular styles or genres. The late nineties had a diverse selection in the charts as well, from Supergrass to Eminem to All Saints to Britney Spears, so when I think back to those last years of my dads life its impossible to nail down if there was anything of the time that he would truly have listened to for pleasure.

I remember the last trip I went on with him; he took my sister and I to Disneyland Paris in the January of ’99 and that whole trip the songs that were sung a lot were Pretty Fly For A White Guy by The Offspring and Tequila by Terrorvision. I think he liked both of them, and that gives me a bit of hope that as I started listening to heavier and more obscure rock and alternative music he would have had an appreciation for it too despite it being a little out of his usual wheelhouse.

It’s funny, I’m sat in Brewdog writing this and they always have good tunes playing, but not the sort of thing they have on tonight. I’m hearing lots of Neil Young, Yo Lo Tengo, Lou Reed and similar. I think my old man would be loving it!

I’d love to have been able to have long discussions about music and introduce new things to my pops. We listened to music together, but we never got to really go deeper on it in that way. I think about what I listen to now, the shows I’ve been to recently, I wonder about if he would like the same stuff as I do or not. I’ve been lucky enough to do that with my mum many times over the years, but I never got the opportunity to with my dad. Music was work for my dad in my view when I was a kid, I’d like to have been able to discuss it as something he enjoyed as well, with my own opinions and input.

I got out of the game before I soured on music in general. My brother has ended up ‘hating music’ after playing essentially the same stuff night in, night out for decades and now doesn’t listen to anything. I never got the impression my dad was anywhere close to that though. He still enjoyed music even if the job was partially responsible for his death.

What would his favourite currently together band be? What would his favourite song of the last twenty years have been? Would he have been able to go to a show without trying to figure out a way of working with the band in some way?

#music #family #dad #death #memory #djing #work #parents #history #legacy


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