Graeme found himself working in a Nottingham record shop called Select-A-Disc in the early 80s, when the very first house records began to filter through from Detroit and Chicago. When the shop’s owner also opened a nightclub, it was only natural he should turn to Graeme to select the discs. Determined to showcase this new style of music, his reputation as a house pioneer soon brought him to the attention of Mike Pickering at the Haçienda in Manchester, who asked him to cover for him whilst he went on holiday in 1987. Simply put, there was no-one else in the country who could do the job…..
The Summer of Love followed, and Parky quickly became one of the biggest names on the emerging dance scene – aside from his eight-year residency at the Hac, he was the first British DJ to play places like Australia, South America, the Far East and beyond, as well as producing and remixing tracks for the dancefloor (including Brand New Heavies, Inner City & more).
“I started DJing purely by accident,” he says. “And then realised I was actually pretty good at it. But I never thought I’d end up doing it for as long as I have. I see no need to stop at the moment. And with all the recent interest in The Hacienda I’m just as in demand as I ever was. Which is great.”
The Haçienda was a club without a purpose until house music filled its cathedral-sized dimensions. It undeniably defined Graeme as a DJ, but that can only be seen as one chapter in an on-going tale: “Yeah it was a very big chapter. I guess the first was when I discovered I could DJ, and found house music from Chicago and Detroit. The Hacienda was chapter 2 up until it closed in 1992 and then chapter 3 was when it re-opened. Chapter 4 was when it closed and I played all around the world. Chapter 5 is probably where we are now.”
And where we are now is a very interesting place to be. Regular slots for Renaissance, Cream, Sub Club, Deja Vu and other big names keeps Graeme busy most weekends all over the UK. And occasional Hacienda reunion gigs are becoming more frequent as interest in the greatest club that ever was gathers momentum after 2007’s 25th anniversary celebrations. He’s also started his own nights under the banner GP inc. where he pays classic house music from the past, present and future too. There are also plans to release original material under the GP Inc. banner, so watch this space.
Graeme has been on the radio for over a decade too. He presented shows on Kiss and Galaxy and you can now find him every Saturday on Manchester’s Key 103 (6pm-10pm) and every Monday on Liverpool’s Juice FM on (11pm-1am) playing an eclectic selection of current tunes with a few choice classics thrown in for good measure too. Parky understands the specialist skills required by a radio DJ: “A lot of radio shows or DJs just play the same big tunes that they’s spin to a dancefloor. You can’t simply pretend you’re in a club, you have to talk to the audience and put your personality across… without sounding like an idiot.”
Whether through his club sets (current, classic or a mixture of both), his radio shows or simply by getting to know his audience, Graeme has spent over two decades getting his jocular personality across. He was there before it all started, he was at the forefront of the dance scene when it was at its zenith and he’s still there, still rocking it in the 21st century – longer than some of the people on the dancefloor have been on the planet! And the best thing is he still loves it, still loves the music and still loves to play it for people to dance to.
“Yeah, for over 20 years I’ve been finding good tunes that I want other people to hear. The reason I keep doing it is simple – because it’s my mission in life to let people hear good music. And with all the interest in classic house tunes, I’m helping people rediscover forgotten tunes all over again too.”
The Haçienda is now an apartment building (the developers asked Graeme to DJ at the launch; he politely declined). At the back of the building there is a time-line, carved into steel, detailing the history of the club from Madonna’s early performance to its closure. And there’s Graeme’s name – not once, but twice – carved into the metal for time immemorial. What other DJs – and what other clubs – have had that significance in clubland…?