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Episode 118 : Pete Wingfield on Soul + Lee Dorsey + Dexys + Mel Brooks

10 January 2022

In this episode we welcome the legendary Pete Wingfield to Hammersmith to discuss his career as a keyboard player, record producer and music journalist.

We start by asking Pete about Soulbeat, the fanzine he started at Wellington College, and about the network of R&B fans in mid-'60s Britain. From there we learn about Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label (and Chipping Norton studio); about Pete's 1967 trip to America, where he met Otis Redding at Stax studios; and about the Breakfast Special album that produced his big 1975 hit 'Eighteen with a Bullet'.

Fast-forwarding to 1981, Pete tells Barney, Mark & Jasper about Sylvia Robinson, the Sugarhill Gang, and cutting Mel Brooks' rap hit 'It's Good to be the King' in a basement studio in Mortlake — the same place where he produced Dexys Midnight Runners' No. 1 hit 'Geno'. A brief discussion of Dexys and Searching for the Young Soul Rebels leads into recollections of touring with the reunited Everly Brothers, producing the Proclaimers' '500 Miles' and playing on Paul McCartney's 1999 covers album Run Devil Run.

Clips from Cliff White's 1980 audio interview with New Orleans great Lee Dorsey provide the perfect excuse to express our abiding love of Lee and of Allen Toussaint's Crescent City soul sound. Staying in a southern vein, we mark the passing of country-soul king Joe Simon, who died in December. We also bid a sad farewell to beloved Radio 1 deejay Janice Long.

Mark talks us out with quotes from pieces about Kathy Kirby, Van Dyke Parks, Prince's Controversy and Shelby Lynne, while Jasper brings us up to date with his thoughts on Taku Sugimoto, Wolf Alice and Sampa the Great.

Hear a YouTube clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Pete Wingfield.