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Keb Darge

Related: BBE Records - DJs - UK music - Northern Soul - deep funk


Through his hugely popular Legendary Deep Funk (BBE) compilation series and off-the-hook DJ sets, Scots selector extraordinare Keb Darge is recognized as the prime mover of the current funk renaissance.


Keb Darge is a Scottish DJ of the genres of Northern Soul and Deep Funk music, and is possibly the best-known DJ of such genres.

He began his career as a dancer for the Wigan Casino, and started collecting Northern Soul records. Soon after, he was DJing in Wigan at a club next to the casino, and around Scotland as well with his record collection throughout the 1970s.

At the age of 22, Darge moved to London, and attempted to live a regular life, having put his DJing days behind him. But music promoters from then approached him again, asking him to come back to DJing. He obliged, and gave the Northern Soul phenomenon exposure in London through his performances, bringing in people from northern England to move to London who were previously associated with Wigan's Northern Soul scene before it dissolved.

After a while, Keb sold off most of his northern soul records due to a divorce in 1987, and handed the torch of his Northern Soul DJing to Mark Dobson (aka "Butch"). But he had left over in his loft many other records of what he then referred to as "junk music" that he picked up in the United States on his many jaunts to find northern soul records there and in the UK. This "junk music" would be the beginning of what Keb would later call "Deep Funk", having underestimated the potential of these leftover records.

In 1989, during the heyday of acid house in the UK, Keb decided to play these funk records, and managed for a short while to get a night to perform regularly at "The Wagclub", a club specializing in acid jazz. After his night there ended around 1992-93, he met fellow funk record collector Mark Cotgrove, aka Snowboy, at Club Ormones in London where the first funk-only night in the city was held, called "Deep Funk". The night was named by Keb (he would later go on to use the name to describe the sound of the funk records he would play), but arranged by the club owners.

After this, Keb and Snowboy wanted to further expand on the "deep funk" sound, and decided to start their own all-funk night in on old restaurant, but this failed to catch on after a few months due the the burgeoning popularity of house music in the UK at the time, forcing Keb & Snowboy to close up shop there.

But shortly afterward, they heard about a venue called Madame Jo-Jo's, a strip club located in the Soho district of London. They managed to arrange with the club a night for them to perform weekly. The club accomodated them, and Keb & Snowboy's funk nights there became an instant success (and still are the leading club nights for funk in London today). Madame Jo-Jo's closed down their strip nights, becoming a full-time music club, partly due to Keb's success there.

Today, Keb still holds a funk night at the club every Friday, called "Legendary Deep Funk". He also tours around the world DJing, and also runs a record label, Kay-Dee, with fellow funk aficionado & producer Kenny Dope.

He has released several albums of compiled classic deep funk tracks, most notably the Funk Spectrum and Keb Darge's Deep Funk compilations released on BBE Records. Keb Darge is hands down a leading authority on deep funk & soul music of the 60s and 70s, and has achieved practically legendary status among his peers.

Besides DJing and helping to produce the modern-day funk group The New Mastersounds, Keb is also quite experienced in martial arts, having been a former Tae Kwon Do champion. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keb_Darge [Oct 2005]

Keb Darge’s All Time Top Ten

1. Gwen Owens -Just say your’re wanted (Velgo)
2. Ernest Baker -Alone Again (Blue Soul)
3. Tomangoes -I really love you (Washpan)
4. Del Larks -Job Opening (Queen City)
5. Salvadores -Stick by me baby (Wise World)
6. Eddie Parker -I’m gone (Awake)
7. Ric Cartey -Scratching on my screen (BRC)
8. Leon Gardner -The natural (Calla)
9. Ramona Collins -You’ve been cheating (Clarks)
10. Al Williams -I am nothing (La Beat)

Keb Darge’s Current Top Ten Playlist

1. Mickey & Soul Generation -How good is good (MRG)
2. The Highlighters -Funky 16 corners (PRP)
3. Groove Merchants -There’s got to be someone for me (Suemi)
4. Dayton Sidewinders -Funky I’m here (Carlco)
5. Glowlighters -Over and over (Uptown)
6. Earl Carter -Shake your po po (Princess)
7. Joe Cotto Orchestra -Alex Twister (Magda)
8. Record Player -Free your mind
9. Reggie Saddler Revue -Raggedy Bag (Aquarius)
10. The Highlanders -Lock Jaw (Lemon Drop)


  1. Funk Spectrum: Real Funk for Real People - Compiled by Keb Darge [Amazon.com] [Amazon UK]
    1. Part Time 2. Lets Do It Today (Procrastination) 3. Roadrunners - Do It Again 4. Dead Dont Die Alive , Pt. 1 5. Getting Down for Xmas 6. Communicators and Black Experience Band - The Road 7. Mr Chicken Sh*T 8. Clap Your Hands 9. RDM Band - Butter That Popcorn 10. Whats Going On? 11. Can't Stop Now 12. It's a Man's World 13. Every Man for Himself 14. Tell ME 15. It Ain't Fun But It's Fun 16. Backtalk 17. Mr. MacHine 18. Who's the King 19. We Oughta Get Together 20. World

    A head-to-head clash between funk heavyweights Keb Darge and Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow). Each mixes 10 choice funk jams, for a total of 20 tracks. Darge handles the first half; DJ Shadow handles the rest. 1999 release.

  2. Funk Spectrum IV: Real Funk for Real People (2002) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [Amazon UK]
    1. Tra La La 2. Funky So-&-So - The Sugarman 3 3. Cold Heat 4. Stick Man 5. Nervous (7"Version) 6. Trying to Make Ends Meet 7. Black Water 8. Getting Off On Your Love 9. Feel The Funk 10. Skins Funk 11. Herm 12. Brothers & Sisters 13. Mercy

    If you asked Keb to describe to you the concept of this compilation he’d most probably tell you where to go, in no uncertain terms... Funk Spectrum IV is exactly what you’d expect it to be but at the same time full of surprises & hidden delights. It’s a compilation of great, & more than often, rare funk tunes! However, ‘FUNK’ is a slightly obscure term as the tunes found on this compilation (& like those on past Spectrums) illustrate how the term Funk can be applied to records that are soulful, northern, disco, deep or attached to any number of other music industry adjectives!!! On this volume Keb is joined by LA’s finest rare 45s fiend Cut Chemist, who has reached notoriety also by being a part of both West Coast’s hip hop group Jurassic 5 & Latin funk band Ozomatli. He has also won acclaim as being part of the ‘Product Placement’ duo with yet another legendary funk collector Josh Davis pka DJ Shadow. Cut Chemist is a world famous turntablist, a remixer, producer & most importantly in this case an avid record collector! The songs selected here are both rare & raw - & that is the essence of this compilation. --amazon.com

    Funk - Soul - Jazz

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