rip paul “trouble” anderson, original london selector

December 14, 2018
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When house music began to go global in the mid-1980s, leaving its Chicago, Detroit and New York roots and finding willing dancers across the globe, Paul “Trouble” Anderson was in London, waiting with open arms. By then, Anderson, who on December 2nd passed away from cancer at the age of 59, had already established a reputation as a pre-eminent selector of global Black dance music. It was a reputation that became legend as he moved between soundsystem, pirate radio, rave and club cultures, becoming a throughline in how the city’s dancers engaged with the ever-evolving Black groove, and inspiring other Black DJs, such as Norman Jay and Jazzie B.

Born in Hackney, East London, Anderson could engage the dancers because he was once one of them.

“I danced in clubs up and down the UK from an early age, in youth discos at the age of 11 or 12 [and] in a few dance groups” he told Chicago’s 5mag last year. By the early ‘80s, he was spinning records at places like the Camden’s Electric Ballroom roller disco, perfecting a sound that he called “troublefunk” — lifted from epic DC go-go band, Trouble Funk, it also begat his nickname. “Trouble” Anderson’s mix of reggae, soul, funk, boogie rare grooves, and early rap music, became a staple at Kiss FM, the groundbreaking pirate radio station he co-founded with Gordon Mac in 1985 (and was instrumental in keeping on-air and at the musical forefront for the next decade-plus). So when house music hit, “Trouble” was all in, becoming a draw at parties that were both legal and ill.

While it was Anderson’s Saturday night Kiss FM radio show that broke the tunes that fuelled the nation’s house and garage clubs and made him a popular booking, it was his weekly parties that more deeply and lastingly impacted the culture. Based in Camden, West London, the parties — Trouble & Friends, Trouble’s House and The Loft — not only saw Anderson debut the latest and greatest house records from the States, while hosting American DJs and performers receiving London love, their popularity was also an inspiration to the city’s other Black DJs at a time when racist policies limited their gigs, and to Black punters regular denied entry into clubs.

As Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B told dance music historian Bill Brewster, ““He was held in high esteem, ’cos he could do everything. He could rollerskate, he could dance, he could play music, he did a bit of kung fu and was in wicked shape and he was running the wheels of steel. We all aspired to that. Personally he probably inspired me the most, because he was in my grasp. I could see him, I could touch him, I could talk to him.”

Even as Anderson was fighting a lung cancer that was diagnosed with in 2011, he continued playing music that moved the crowd, on the digital airwaves at an Internet radio station called Mi-Soul, and at regular party in Peckham, South East London.