We are still trying to track down a number of the old DJs. If anyone has any information on the missing ones we'd be very grateful for a tip off. In particular - Les Dunston, Dave Kent and Gerry Bates. We are aware of a number of other jocks who performed one-offs and short runs in the early years. If you have any names please let us know.
We have no adverts, appearance info or photos for some of the jocks. If anyone has old cuttings or photos or remembers seeing these guys, with a rough idea of the date and what they were doing it might help us to track something down.
Wherever you find Seymour, click on him for extras
in order of appearance at the Cali
These are DJs for whom there is documented proof of a regular appearance either from adverts in the papers, posters, flyers or accounts books
worked on Forces Radio in Germany during the early sixties. Edwin Green asked him to come over to do some Saturday morning kiddie's discos in 1964. Dave stayed and ran them until 1965. He has to be one of the earliest Disc Jockeys at the California.
worked at the California Ballroom from 1968 to 1973 doing a Friday night American Soul show and Saturdays with the bands. Still playing the music after 40 years
The Svengali of the local jocks. Bruce gave most of these guys their chance in the spotlight. He paid them a pittance, often forgot to cough up the cash, but still they queued to get in. Bruce loved an audience and if there wasn't one around would create one. I can recall one very hot Saturday in 1972, six of us squished into his car and drove all the way down to Pease Potton near Brighton, just to watch Bruce having promo photos taken on a custom motorbike. Then we all piled back in and came home.
worked the decks in the early seventies. He now lives in the USA. Rob says that Graham Bonney has all the photos of him. Graham says he hasn't..... well apart from a right ear. I warned him if he didn't cough up I'd put a really bad photo on the site so click on Seymour and stand back!
worked at the California and at Beachcomber, the discotheque attached to Caesar's Palace. More recently, he owned a record store, Buzzard Records, in Leighton Buzzard. Dave says the California was a really big part of his life. He remembers that the Friday night discos, with no band, would regularly bring in between 1500 and 2000 people. Dave no longer has any connection with the music industry.
did most of his gigs at the Cali with Dave Holland in the early seventies. We've now tracked him down and found he was hiding from us in full view. Still DJing he does weekly gigs at the Bull in Dunstable on Saturday nights. Come on Shoss, dig out the old pics...... DARE YOU!
was on the decks at the Cali throughout the 70's. He was the first DJ to work the Devil's Den on opening night. The first record he played there was James Brown - Honky Tonk. He was followed onto the decks by Mad Harry who poured his beer all over them.
who ran the decks at the Cali in the early seventies. From 72 onwards was more frequently to be seen at Bruce Benson's other venues such as the Aquarius Night Club in West Street Dunstable.
was a regular at the Cali in the early 70's having previously worked at the Mecca in Bristol. Many of the DJs had their own catchphrases. Ray coined one that still exists to this day and another that is best forgotten.
The elusive Mr Jones has now been traced and caught and we have a mugshot to prove it! Many thanks to Gary Crowley for the information.
aka Brother Louie worked in the Ballroom, Devil's Den/Didoz and Roller Disco. He was a DJ on Chiltern, Oasis and Radio London for a while and known for his Soul Funk imports, now does the occasional gig including Cali-R.|
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has less hair these days but that's not unusual, you should see the others on this page!!!! He's got quite a few bits and pieces from the Cali days including some decks!
Not content with slapping a bit of vinyl on the Dansette, these days, Kev splits his time between England and Spain and does this new fangled mixing stuff!
You can listen to some of his work on his Myspace Page
Clive is still out and about and is occasionally to be seen behind the decks at the California Roadshows.
What the Jocks got paid..... as you can see from the diary excerpt below, money wasn't bad, ten pounds for a Saturday night was more than I was being paid a week in my job.
The famous ones, from radio and TV or well known clubs
appeared on many occasions. When I said: "If you know of any other dates when you were there, let me know and I'll add them" Rosko replied: "Too many!!" Man of few words our Rosko!
EASC All Dayer
Starting out by standing in for Mr H on loo breaks, Richard moved on to become Louie Martin's assistant and was later promoted to DJ Stavros)
Yes, that's me. Often behind the decks in the Ballroom and the Den trying hard not to ruin your evening by mis-cuing something. If I wasn't there, then I was helping the roadies rewire equipment or, at the request of Mick Ilka, trying to keep the bands supplied with liquid refreshment. You wouldn't believe the number of famous names I've seen in their underwear. It wasn't always a pretty sight.
Back in the 60's I was resident DJ at both the Cellar Club in Kingston and the Star Ballroom in Maidstone. My fellow DJ Steve (Muscles) Maxsted and I both did a couple of guest gigs at the California
now lives in Reno, USA. He contacted us to say that he worked a number of venues with Bruce Benson. He said:
"I worked for Bruce for about a year or so. I did mainly his back up stuff but ended up in doing several shows in the Queensway, Teenybopper stuff. My most vivid memory of Bruce was at the Cali and the band was late so we did this whole raw onion eating contest.
Do you remember the Aquarius and its "hen nights" Mondays?. I also did a couple of gigs at the club in the shopping centre in Dunstable (forgot the name but it was a huge ballroom and a smaller funk room) (Tiffany's - ed.) My dad gave Bruce his big start at the Boys club in the 60s. Oh and the reason I quit? Bruce owed me money and I had to get physical to get paid.
I was saddened when I heard about the troubles Bruce had, and to learn of his passing. Any issues I had with BB were more to do with me and my issues. But you got to agree BB was "frugal".
The one thing your site forgets is the riot and the cops using the water cannon to disperse the crowd. I don't remember the exact date as I was not there however it made a lot of media attention. Check out the Luton News archives Basically the police used the water to disperse a crowd."
anyone remember this? Was it the Gen X gig? (ed.)
The following were regular punters who arrived armed with a pile of records that they would get the resident DJ to play for them. Occasionally they would be allowed to put a few on themselves when the DJ took a break. (Seems this was usually Mr. H) Benson would have gone nuts if he knew and would likely have refused to pay the jock for the evening which is why it didn't happen too often and never if Bruce was in the building.
Little Richard remembers that he and Sid both used to take records up to Mr. H and get him to play them on Northern Soul nights in the Devil's Den in 1975. Harry occasionally allowed them to take over the decks whilst he went for a break.
Sid remembers a regular trick of Bruce Benson's. Well before the evening's act was due to start, he used to cue up one of their well known records and wind the crowd up to think that they were about to come on. They'd all go wild when they heard what they thought was the show starting and then nobody would appear.
Richard moved on to become Louie Martin's assistant and a while later was given a regular DJ slot under the name of Stavros.