Book: Dancehalls, Glitterballs and DJs
Chapter: Spin Me Right Round
The gramophone, a machine for playing pre-recorded shellac discs, came to Britain in the 1890s and started to revolutionise the way in which people listened to and enjoyed music. At first, these machines were expensive and the range of available records was limited. Despite this, Daniel Moore was earning part of his living by dragging his gramophone from pub to pub and playing records for money in 1893, making him a possible contender for the title of Britain’s First Disc Jockey. This chapter charts the progress of the gramophone as it became Britain’s pre-eminent ‘musical instrument,’ bringing stars such as Caruso, Dame Nellie Melba and Harry Champion to homes across the land and, by the early years of the twentieth century, bringing gramophone concerts to the Royal Albert Hall, Madame Tussauds and the rooftops of Belfast. It ends during the Great War, when the portable gramophone known as the ‘Trench Decca’ brought music to the front-line troops on both sides and inspired a young army officer to eventually become the BBC’s first radio DJ.