From its opening in 1963 until its final emotive all-nighter, starring US soul legend Edwin Starr in January 1971, the Twisted Wheel played host to almost every major British R&B act & the very best that the USA had to offer. Steeped in black American music it is no surprise that it became the crucible of NORTHERN SOUL setting the template for all-night gatherings across the north of England. Pictured to the left of our cover – sporting his trademark turban – is Screaming Jay Hawkins arriving at London airport with his wife Ginny for his debut visit to the UK on 26th January, 1965. There to meet & greet Hawkins was resident Twisted Wheel DJ Roger Eagle, a huge fan of the charismatic performer. Hawkins’ million-selling, “I Put A Spell On You”, had been recorded almost a decade earlier and released on the iconic Chicago based OKeh Records, a label very much on Eagle’s radar for its slue of cult Blues & R&B artists.

Vinyl LP available in store and online.

The legendary Okeh Records needs little introduction to soul music fans around the world. It has been relentlessly plundered and treasured for its slue of Northern Soul classics produced by A&R manager Carl Davis and his songwriter Curtis Mayfield during the “soul years” 1963-70. However, the imprint was originally launched 100 years ago in 1918 by Otto K. E. Heinemann who had already established a recording studio and pressing plant in New York City. The label name was derived from Heinemann’s initials O.K.E.H. From the very early years, Okeh issued records for minority audiences, such as its foreign language music, field recordings and Dixieland jazz.

But perhaps the most significant recording was “That Thing Called Love” by Mamie Smith in 1920, the first ever by … More