◼ DID ASTON UNIVERSITY KNOW WHAT IT WAS DOING inviting deejay Rusty Egan to talk at an academic conference? The drummer and co-founder of the legendary 80s Blitz Club has dedicated his life to promoting electronic dance music so is uniquely qualified to spout on Germany’s seminal synth band at the world’s first scholarly gathering devoted to Kraftwerk and the Birth of Electronic Music. Conference organiser Dr Uwe Schütte claimed: “They are the most important band in the world in the way they changed music.”
Having been among their early disciples, Rusty was besotted enough to go hunting through Germany in the 70s in search of experiments in synthesised pop. His lifelong mission, he believes today, has shown “how Kraftwerk turned into Planet Rock turned into house music and what we know now as dance music.” He tells how he found the world’s first sampler in a German village called Wächtersbach, spent 12 hours making his first mash-up there and “never got paid for that record, not one dime”.
Rusty made good with bands such as Rich Kids and Visage, in the face of the fat-cat indolence that prevailed in the torpid British music industry of the 70s, so last month’s platform enabled the now 57-year-old Rusty to settle a few scores by naming and shaming the rip-off merchants who, he says, have nicked his arrangements over the years and never paid a penny for them. By his own account, one of the guilty villains Rusty had paid £500 a day responded to his accusation saying: “Yeah but you should have kept the floppy disk.” Another lesson in the school of hard knocks.
The Aston “lecture” is described by one of the 200 delegates as “more of a comedy routine” and by Rusty himself as “Welcome to my insanity”. It’s now on Soundcloud for all to hear, and is typical of many an hour I’ve spent in Rusty’s kitchen trying to follow his uniquely entertaining stream-of-consciousness which randomly leaps from one story to the next while you work out that 20 years separates them. Early in his talk he says “I’m just mad on sound – it wasn’t a case of double paradiddle” illustrating his point with a beatbox break. So you have often to do a bit of Sherlockian deduction to finish his thoughts for him. His splenetic outbursts and ripe language (parental guidance advised) testify both to his indignation at the greed that characterises sections of the pop fraternity and to his own honesty, which even his friends suspect might be charming naivety.
Here’s his first rant:
“ In my experience record companies have never ever had any idea about creating music or creative people… I spent years not having any respect whatsoever for any guy in a satin jacket with Ace written on it with a briefcase with tour passes on it, long sideburns, dark glasses and a handlebar moustache, saying “Hi! I’m from your record label”. He was the last guy in the world you wanted to talk to and you had absolutely nothing you wanted to say to him. ”
VERDICTS BY RUSTY’S FANS AT FACEBOOK
Chi Ming Lai You will be in stitches.
Mat Mckenzie This is a fantastic listen Rusty!
Clive Pierce Bravo… Absolutely riveting.
Anver Hanif The knowledge and vision are superb.
Derek Quin Rusty, you have been a massive influence on my music heritage. When I heard you speak at Aston it reinvigorated me.
Iris Peters Great fun to listen to.
Jon Lowther You and François Kevorkian defined the evolvement of electronica and the DJ. You have managed to maintain your passion, creativity and faith in an industry that fails.
Mats From I literally LOL’ed many times listening to this.
➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young when London blazes with creativity
➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time – an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties
RUSTY’S LATEST ELECTRONIC MIX
➢ Update from Spandau Ballet: Legendary deejay and friend of the band Rusty Egan has been confirmed as the support for all of the Soul Boys of the Western World tour UK & Ireland shows