Paul Gray is almost certainly the longest running DJ to work at the California. His first job on the site was a Saturday job at the petrol station, this would have been around 1968.
Paul Gray, Robbie Burns and Louie Martin together again 2004
One of the few UK DJs to be on the Motown freebies list, Paul Gray worked in the Ballroom on Friday and Saturday nights as well as the Devil's Den/Didoz. He and Ray J Day were the stalwarts of the Cali in the early to mid 70s and the two were responsible for the place gaining the nickname Soul City. Both were well known for their large collection of soul sounds.
Paul was also a regular DJ at Aquarius Night Club, The Greyhound in Dunstable, Truman Gateway, Disc-a-dine and Drill Hall in Luton. At the Truman Gateway he had to compete with appearances from Radio One DJs, topless dancers and drag acts.
He gave up the DJ scene in 1978, claiming he was becoming dangerous from too many late nights.
Now the marketing director of company specialising in aerial photography, he is married with two teenage sons and still lives in Bedfordshire.
Paul still loves all the old Soul sounds from the California days and has an attic full of all his old vinyl.
The night of the Slade gig the place was packed to the rafters. The band had so much equipment there wasn't much room left on the stage. When they finished their set I went back on to finish the night off, switched on the decks and blew all the fuses. Slade hadn't turned their kit off. We couldn't play any music so I used Slade's mike to tell the crowd to go home. In a funny way it was a good thing it happened. There were so many fans in that night that it took more than half an hour to clear the hall.
On another occasion Suzi Quattro was doing a mid-weeker. These tended to be pretty quiet so there were very few punters in. I felt rather sorry for Suzi playing to such a small audience. After her set she went off and I started up the disco. Unknown to me, Bruce Benson had agreed with her that she would be called back on for an encore. It never occurred to me! There was no one there to encore for, so I carried on, oblivious, until a rather angry Ms Quattro gave me an earful.
We used to run a really stupid contest where we'd ask people to come up on stage and eat an onion. I lost count of the people who took us up on it.
One night we decided to do an 'Italian Job' in the Devil's Den. We waited until all the people were leaving and had reached the far side of the room by the door, then we opened up the sets of double doors which went out to the car park and drove two Minis in. We went round and round much to the amazement and amusement of the punters.
P.S. Johnny Walker - please can I have my Smokey Robinson Shop Around album back?