Tony Clark – Their Time.

Tony was quietly requested to mime, rather than sing, in the school choir so that his questionable singing voice wouldn’t ruin the overall sound.  Piano lessons only lasted three weeks before he threw them in proclaiming himself a lost cause.  But their loss was perhaps Bristol’s gain as he found a way to get involved in his deep love of music and became a DJ.

He remembers how in early childhood there was no music he could relate to but suddenly rock and roll arrived.  He says, “Levis jeans appeared.  People stopped dressing like their mum and dad.  They listened to Little Richard which their parents hated.  Teenagers were invented!” For Tony, it felt like being at the centre of the universe.

The subversive way of life stuck with Tony.  When he was married he had to smuggle LPs into the house and listen to them on headphones to hide how much money he was spending on his beloved vinyl.  He later fell in love with New Orleans and went there 15 times often bringing back records previously unheard in the UK to play at the Northern Soul night he’d set up in Bristol.  He loved the music scene, the people, the culture and played some amazing gigs there as well as meeting his girlfriend with who he had a long-distance relationship for many years.  Back in the UK, he played in a club in a dingy warehouse building which they shared with Hells Angels and a women’s gay club.  Always one to make the most of a strange situation he found himself one day playing a set to an energetic crowd of Hells Angels mixed with scooterists dancing, perhaps for the first time, together on the very same floor.

Tony looking into the distance.

He’s now been playing for nearly half a century and still plays regularly in pubs and clubs in Bristol, Bath and London still discovering new sounds and nurturing old ones.

He says,

“You can open your ears to anything – you’ll discover things you like.  Music used to be more tribal. There was modern jazz and traditional jazz and it was like warfare!

People have become more tolerant and open to different kinds of music and that’s a good thing because you’ll find exciting new things you like.

There’s stuff I can’t stand but that’s okay. We’re all different and all have our own tastes and it would be boring if we all liked the same thing. Music is a very personal thing”.

He spends longer planning his sets than playing them. He says, “It’s nice when someone comes over and says ‘What was that you just played?’ Although, of course, now they no longer write it down, they just hold up their phone and record it.”

“Through Their Time, Laura Page, Photographer and Rebecca Vassie Memorial award winner, has captured the lives of older people during the pandemic, setting out to challenge the perceptions of ageing. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the intricate stories captured throughout the past year. So keep an eye out on STOPageism and across our social channels!

To learn more about Laura, her perception of ageing and ageism, and to discover more about Their Time, click here.”

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