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Jeff Dexter promoting The Twist 1962

Jeff Dexter (born 1946) is a British disc jockey (DJ), club promoter, record producer and former dancer, who rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the resident DJ at the influential London club Middle Earth. He is closely associated with the Mod scene and popularising The Twist in England. In 1970, he became the manager of America, the American folk rock band formed in London earlier that year, consisting of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek. He also co-produced their first album, America and got them their first gig. They went on to have number one hits in 1972 including "A Horse with No Name".

Links To Peel

Jeff Dexter recalls the roots of Mod02:43

Jeff Dexter recalls the roots of Mod

Dexter was the resident DJ at Tiles when he met John Peel in 1967, whilst Peel was working for Radio London, and the two DJs struck up a friendship. Dexter had a Mod background, and in his early teens had befriended fellow Mod Mark Feld, later known as Marc Bolan. He had become interested in the psychedelic music Peel was playing on the Perfumed Garden and had started a weekly "Jeff Dexter Light and Sound Show" at Tiles, featuring a mixture of soul and psychedelic records. On the show of 12 July 1967, Peel mentioned being with Dexter and seeing pop stars he admired in the fashionable streets of 1960s "Swinging London":

During the past week I saw some famous people too, actually. When I was in the Kings Road with Jeff Dexter last weekend, I saw Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. And I should have gone up and said hello and, you know, thanked them for being themselves and everything, on behalf of all the Perfumed Garden people – but I didn’t, because I was afraid they’d think it was a drag, you know, which it probably would have been actually, but anyway… And I think I saw Donovan too – I may be wrong – on Sunday morning on Portobello Road, which is like, you know, by no means impossible

Peel also dedicated a record to Dexter on his 19 July 1967 show, where he called him 'a very good person'. Soon after Radio London closed down, Peel himself did a DJ night at Tiles, but as he mentioned in his International Times column[ref], it was not a success and the club closed soon afterwards.

In an interview conducted in February 1998, Dexter mentioned his interaction with Peel at Middle Earth: [1]

In the Middle Earth, what was being played?

Well, there, the hot bands of the day. John Peel was also a DJ. And John hated ska and bluebeat and most of those records that I’d lived on. He thought they were awful. I was totally into what he was doing, but he didn’t understand what I was doing. The thing is, people still loved to dance and you really couldn’t dance to a lot of the new psychedelic records that were around. They were horrible to dance to. So to keep people moving I had to mix it up a bit.

The fundamental difference is probably that you came from a club background and he was a radio person.

Yeah. John’s records were strictly for listening to. I played to the audience. Any DJ worth his salt knows how put one record on after another so they seem seamless, and, although that was becoming less important, to me it was still important that once the place was full, I wanted those people to have a good time. I mixed the two together.

Jeff Dexter hosted many live open-air festivals (including the Isle Of Wight Festivals of 1969 and 1970) and after the closedown of Middle Earth organised the Implosion gigs at the Roundhouse[2], run for the benefit of the underground community rather than for profit. Artists who performed at Implosion ranged from hippy community bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies to stars like the Who, and many did sessions for Peel. But it is possible that Peel's friendship with Jeff Dexter came under strain when the group Dexter managed, America(2), turned up on Peel's doorstep at 2 a.m. and asked if they could play for him. As Sheila Ravenscroft recounted in Margrave of the Marshes (p. 264), "John was uncommonly forthright in expressing his determination to return to bed with their bleatings unheard". It was one of the incidents which made the DJ decide to leave London.

Jeff Dexter did make a few appearances as holiday cover for other DJs in the early days of Radio 1's Sounds of the Seventies, but was unable to repeat his live DJ success on the radio.

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