Southern Soul

The Impact of Southern Soul.

Another disregarded thread of influence is the Southern Soul Scene. Terry Farley uncovers a lost history of an area of music culpable for making kids dance to this day.

Terry Farley’s been there, done that and through his seminal British house label Junior Boy’s Own, he may well have sold you the t-shirt, or a record at least.

A fervent Chelsea supporter, he’s also an original Ibiza survivor, co-founder of cult fanzine Boys Own and one half of true house stalwarts Farley & Heller. Terry guides Clash through the muchoverlooked southern soul scene, the place where he cut his teeth way back when and talks his acid house.

“I was living in Slough and I was sixteen, I’d just left school and I got taken to a place called Windsor Safari Park. It was around 1974/’75 and on a Thursday they had a soul night, mostly local kids, all a bit older. Quite a few black guys were there all dressed in safari jackets, safari trousers and leather sandals. The music was stuff like Kool And The Gang’s ‘Wild And Peaceful’ album, ‘Hollywood Swinging’, that kind of stuff. I was hooked.

From talking to people, I started going into town, to clubs like the 100 Club, Crackers and upstairs at Ronnie’s. There was a Northern soul all-dayer in Reading also, with an upstairs room that played funk. There must have been five hundred people downstairs dancing to Northern soul and fifty people in the soul/funk room. By the end of the year, ’75/’76, it had switched right around and now the majority of people were into soul in the south of England.

I t was an intense experience. Early on in Crackers there was only maybe ten white boys in there and there was a small dancefloor and the rest was carpet. You couldn’t go on the dancefloor unless you were good enough and if you did someone would get right in your face and do free spins and mug you off.

By the mid ’80s and when the Soul Mafia collective became big, the dancing wasn’t important at all on that scene, and that’s when I lost interest. The more interesting scene was the warehouse scene in London that Norman Jay, Good Times and Soul II Soul were doing.

The first time I heard house was when I warming up for Noel and Maurice Watson at a warehouse in Roseberry Avenue. They played stuff like Sleeping Bag records and it was a lot faster than what everyone else was playing in London. They told me they’d been living in New York and a lot of the records were white labels.

You couldn’t go on the dancefloor unless you were good enough

With the Boys Own parties, we found a fella in Guildford with a big house and a garden, around spring 1988. It was the first ever acid house party; Steve Potts played with Johnny Walker. We took four coach loads of people who would have been going to Shoom, Future, that kind of crowd. We didn’t know how to fill the garden so someone suggested a bouncy castle. That’s where the whole bouncy castle thing came from later on.

The police turned up at 11am and they’d never seen anything like it. Within two months the police were battling people in Blackburn and Heston Services for dancing in the fields yet these policeman wished us on our way! They had no idea what we were getting up to!”


You can visit to listen to and purchase a selection of the Acid House classics discussed in our retrospective.

Click here to visit JUNO.

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