On the right track
DJ SIMON WILLSON lives, eats and breathes music. He has 5,000 records in his collection and says he feels privileged to be a medium for the music. Spinning discs is clearly his ideal profession, but he warns budding young DJs against jumping straight into the business.
'Don't put all your eggs in the DJ basket, you've got to keep your options open.' DJ as a hobby and have a career to fall back on,' he says..
DJ Simon is doing just that. He has two other careers - in finance and computers - that he can turn to if need be.
He was brought up in Hong Kong and sent to boarding school in the United Kingdom aged six. Drawn to music from an early age, he began DJing at school discos when he was 13. When he left school in the early 1980s, he worked in a stockbrokers in London and then Hong Kong. The three years he spent working his way up to trading gave him skills that would prove financially rewarding. But it was not his dream job. That came when he landed his first major DJing gig at Club 97.
'The club was always packed - it was big party time. I didn't know how to mix in those days, I would just use the mike and throw on records,' he says.
DJ Simon spent the next few years on the DJ circuit, taking up regular slots at clubs in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai, where he was the first white boy to spin when the mainland re-opened to the world in 1985. He learned to mix at Faces in the New World Hotel.
Being on the move is the nature of a DJ's life. 'Signing up for six-month contracts gives you the luxury of meeting new people and broadening your horizons,' says DJ Simon.
Wanting a change from the DJ circuit, he returned to trading in 1987. He earned a lot of cash quickly and managed to navigate his clients safely through the October 1987 crash. But 18 months later he decided to return to music and took up the late night slot on Radio 3.
However, later that year, a serious motorbike accident left him badly injured. House-bound for three years, he began playing around with computers and soon learned enough to set himself up in computer servicing. But the novelty wore off in 1998, when he took a job as tour manager for the band KixInteractive doing a 33-city tour of the mainland. He realised that it was the music he was missing. A year ago DJ Simon started his show, The Rhythm, which airs on Radio 3 every Saturday from 10pm to midnight.