SQ Magazine

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DJ Derek: The story of the 72-year-old white reggae DJ

Posted on Friday, 17 January by

DJ Derek Artwork

Legendary status is thrown about too often these days, but someone who may be worthy of that very title is 72-year-old Derek Morris from Bristol.

A former cost clerk at Cadbury’s, Derek’s been described as having a penchant for cardigans and long subsidised bus journeys. But on the weekend Derek has an unlikely alter-ego, becoming a cult hero in the world of Jamaican reggae.

Having only recently retired, playing his last gig at Notting Hill Arts Club’s new year eve party (for the 12th time in a row) we decided it would be a good time to sit down with one of the UK’s best kept secrets and have him reflect on a career spanning more than four decades.

We find out what Derek’s motivations are, why he thinks he’s been so successful in a field dominated by people well under the ripe age of 72 and everything inbetween.

Listen to the full 40-minute conversation we had with DJ Derek above.

When I quizzed Derek on the prospect of him making a potential comeback, he said:

“I made it pretty clear when I said I was retiring that’s it, because I didn’t wanna get bombarded with phone calls by people asking me “can you just come up…”. But I have left my options open with a couple of people, I won’t mention who they are but special people to me who over the years who I’ve had a particularly good relationship with and said look, if you’ve got a particular Jamaican artist or somebody you think I can enhance by being on the bill or you think I’d just like to see, give me a ring, I don’t mind doing half an hour little stand-up. Not a performance, I don’t want to go and do that again, in fact I won’t have the music to be able to do it, I’m not gonna carry that around, but I can take an hour or two and a half hour minidisc with just a selection of popular stuff that I played over the years and just use that with one minidisc player and do a little cameo performance.”

Photograph: Heather Shuker

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Lewis Scrafton
22. Co-founder and editor of SQ Magazine. Studying at University of Sussex. Interned at MATTER and published in The Guardian.

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