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Dave Godin (1936-2004)

from :

Dave Godin -  journalist, activist, arts cinema director; born June 31 1936; died October 15 2004.

Dave Godin was one of the world's leading authorities on soul music, who as a journalist, compiler of records and CDs, and general ideologue for what he saw as the cause of black American music, helped to transform popular culture in Britain. In a long career in which he was also engaged in a whole range of political and ethical activities involving anarchism, Esperanto, vegetarianism and later veganism, animal liberation and film censorship (on which he was also a world authority), Godin was, among other things, responsible for the creation of a dedicated Tamla-Motown label in the UK, the co-owner of the first specialist black music record shop in Europe (Soul City, in Deptford and later Covent Garden), and the first person to give a name to the phenomenon of "Northern Soul".

. . . he won a scholarship to Dartford Grammar School. "And it was at Dartford Grammar School, of course, that I met Mick Jagger and introduced him to black music, I'm ashamed to say," Godin told the writer Jon Savage in a 1997 interview. "It's ironic that as a result of meeting me he's where he is today."Godin encouraged the younger Jagger in his interests in American R&B, and played a minor role in the early jam sessions out of which the group who later became the Rolling Stones emerged.

. . . At around the same time [as discovering soul music in 1953], he also became a vegetarian, discovering an equivalent sense of solidarity when meeting fellow enthusiasts for either activity.

. . . The most extraordinary episode in Godin's career is probably his role in the story of Tamla-Motown in the UK. In 1963, after setting up the Tamla- Motown Appreciation Society, and experiencing a lack of interest from Oriole, the various Tamla labels' parent label in the UK, Godin wrote directly to Motown in Detroit. He was shocked to receive a five-page telegram in reply from the founder Berry Gordy, inviting him to visit the company's headquarters forthwith. A plane ticket followed and Godin arrived in Detroit to be met by various Motown stars and taken to a banquet in his honour at which he couldn't eat any of the food because he was vegetarian.

. . . Godin became an indefatigable campaigner against cruelty to animals in film-making, whose efforts succeeded in stamping out many abuses, as well as campaigning against all forms of film censorship. Although a lifelong atheist, in his later years Godin also became a proponent of the Jain religion.In a life full of passionately held beliefs about all sorts of things, Dave Godin's identification of the concept of deep soul, and the four magnificent albums devoted to it that he compiled between 1997 and 2004, will stand as a permanent achievement. By bringing together obscure and neglected records whose unapologetic emotionalism did not suit all tastes in the soul spectrum, he created one of the towering monuments in the history of black music.That it took an Esperanto-speaking vegan from Bexleyheath to do it is all the more poignant.

Phil Johnson

The Guardian Obituary

Dave Godin - Champion of black music who coined the term 'northern soul'
By Richard Williams; Wednesday October 20, 2004; The Guardian

A militant atheist, a conscientious objector who argued his way out of national service, a vegetarian from the age of 14 (sic, see below), a campaigner against cruelty to animals and cinema censorship, he abhorred violence and believed in fairness in all areas of human conduct. His support for America's civil rights movement underpinned his belief that blues and soul music gained their special force from the social and historical context in which they were created.

from a letter to Frank L. Hoffman on ; 18 August 2002 :

There is no doubt about it in my mind that once you perceive animal-beings as we do, one's whole perspective on everything changes so totally and completely. And that, believer or non-believer, is a true blessing!  Keep up the good work and I'll keep on over here. Next year I will have been vegetarian for 50 years (vegan for the last six) and our local paper wants to do an interview with me to mark the occasion.  It will be a good opportunity to preach the gospel of kindness and compassion.

- that makes the first comment above more accurate as 1953 - when he would have been 17, not 14 as in the Guardian obituary.


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