Soundtrack Of My Life: Craig Charles

BBC funk and soul aficionado and self-described scouse "scally"

The first song I remember hearing

Ray Charles – ‘I Got A Woman’

“I must have been about three or four, and I remember my mum and dad dancing around the kitchen to [this song]. My dad came over to England in ‘58 – he was a merchant seaman from Guyana and he missed his boat in Holland. Because he had a British-Guyanese passport they sent him to England rather than back to the West Indies. He arrived at Liverpool docks with a pocketful of change and a bag full of records. I was born in ‘64 and in Liverpool everyone else was listening to The Beatles, but in our house it was Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, BB King, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker.”

The first album I ever bought

Something by Heatwave


“It was probably from Woolworths – it was way before I used to knock around Probe Records in Liverpool – and I think it was a Heatwave album, because I was into a bit of disco as well. They did ‘Mind Blowing Decisions’ and ‘Always and Forever’. I shared my mum and dad’s record player – it was really, really crappy and very, very dangerous. The needle was so old it wrecked all my early records completely. You’d have to stick a 10p piece on the needle head to stop it jumping and sometimes you’d have to stick a bit of water on it to make it stick to the record.”

The first song I fell in love with

Thin Lizzy – ‘The Rocker’

“My first great love was Phil Lynott and then Jimi Hendrix, because I was into rock music and they were the only two Black guys doing it. And because I’m half-Irish as well what was great was that here was a Black Irishman playing rock! Apart from a couple of lads, I went to an all-white school, so when I was 11 or 12, I was listening to Black Sabbath and AC/DC, all that kind of stuff. My dad then kind of reverse engineered me into the blues and funk – he’d listen to all the guitar licks and say where they’d stolen it from and play me the obscure blues original.”


The first gig I went to


Thin Lizzy at The Royal Court, Liverpool

“Phil Lynott used to have this mirrored plate on his guitar – the lights would shine on the stage and catch it and it would shine back out into the audience and he shined it out onto me. I must have been about 13, 14, and he picked me out and just winked at me. That was like dying and going to heaven. I even grew my Afro out like his, it was teased over one eye and all that. I went with a gang of schoolmates [in the ’70s] and I had tickets for the second night as well, but I had to walk all the way home from the gig to the suburbs and got in really late and my mum wouldn’t let me go to the second night!”

The song that reminds me of home

The Mighty Wah! – ‘The Story of the Blues’

“I was a little bit younger than them, but I was on the Liverpool scene by then doing live poetry events. There were so many Liverpool bands that were all making it then in the late 1970s, early 1980s – China Crisis, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, A Flock of Seagulls, Wah! I used to hang around Probe Records, where Pete Burns worked – he was so scary then, with full-on black eyes and contact lenses. I was friendly with Jeff who owned the place, but there were loads of skinheads there too and Adam and the Ants, all their tour crew. A Flock of Seagulls had their hairdressing salon just next door. It was a real proper musical scene and I was just this mixed-race scally hanging around in the middle of all these total degenerates. It was brilliant!”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Justin Bieber – ‘Love Yourself’

“I’ve been singing ‘My momma don’t like you/And she likes everyone’ all day. I have teenage daughters who play their music very loud and I’m too liberal to tell them to turn it down and they’ve been playing that all day. It’s a great lyric that though, isn’t it?”

The song that makes me want to dance

Tito Nieves – ‘I Like It Like That’

“It was originally done by Pete Rodriguez but this remix by Tito Nieves just makes me jump, jump, jump, jump, jump! It’s bonkers, you can’t not dance to this. So much of the stuff that I play when I DJ is music that you can’t stand still to. I was gonna say that my moves are dad moves, but they’re more granddad moves now! I dance like there’s nobody watching, unfortunately there’s often thousands of people watching.”

‘The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show’ will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ this Saturday (May 22) on BBC Radio 6 Music from 6-9pm

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