Time Out turned 51 last year. I’ve worked here about ten of those years now. After a while, you get used to certain names flowing in and out of the magazine, like a neighbour’s cat cruising charmingly through your garden. They’re in listings, they’re feverishly name checked in interviews, they’re used as sonic references, they’re held up as masters of their craft. This was the case with Andrew Weatherall, who died this week. It was impossible to keep him out of Time Out.
Since he passed away on Monday at Whipps Cross Hospital, many have joyously shared his studio work online and drawn comfort from a body of recorded music that will thankfully last forever: pivotal work with Primal Scream that brought Balearica to Bradford and the rest of the UK, releases as part of Two Lone Swordsmen, The Sabres Of Paradise and The Asphodells, a weight of remixes on his labels Boy’s Own Recordings and Rotters Golf Club.
But a strange thing happens when a great DJ dies. That side of their genius really does all go in an instant, just like that. That magic power to make a room fizzle with excitement, that shamanic ability to bewitch grown humans with nothing but sounds. Gone.
His last London date was on New Year’s Eve, a five-hour set at Hackney Wick’s Mick’s Garage. It’s a lovely venue, but decidedly modest for a man of his immense standing: a founding father of the acid house movement and pretty much every indie fan’s favourite DJ, ever.
But that was his thing. He very clearly eschewed the life of a superstar DJ and the bland megagigs it entails. He chose to constantly ply his craft in small, intimate places instead. He played the teeny-tiny Horse Meat Disco in December, for example (with fellow DJ Artwork helping on lights, randomly). He was due to play the insanely small Margate Arts Club in April too. Such gigs were oversubscribed beyond belief, but for those lucky attendees, they were able to chat and share passions with their hero in a human way that seems unimaginable with most DJs.
Having crawled from the fertile ooze of the ’80s rave explosion, Weatherall largely walked away from electronic music in the early 2000s to become a rockabilly nut. But he folded himself back into the scene with A Love from Outer Space – a nomadic party run with Sean Johnston that locked into a permanently slow, narcotic electronic groove and became a genuinely loving community of friends and hypnotised fans.
It’s been pointed out that, spookily, you can still see the man on Google Street View – walking purposefully up Kingsland Road, looking customarily fantastic in smart brown shoes, wide-legged camel-coloured trousers and tats galore. It’s just one of many beautiful perspectives on Andrew Weatherall – a street-pounding, eye-catching local London legend.
He is survived by his partner, his family and about 7 million children of the acid-house revolution. Rest in peace.
Image: Google Maps.