The seasoned DJ and the man at the helm of Hemsby’s rock’n’roll weekender goes crate digging 

Globe-trotting DJ, MC, promoter and resident at the Ace Cafe and the boss of Hemsby’s legendary rock’n’roll weekender, Bill Guntrip is a stalwart of the rockin’ scene. “As a teenager, I was very fortunate to be growing up during the revival of our music scene, and many modern bands influenced me into looking deeper into the music,” he says as he talks us through the records that have shaped his musical journey. “My list is a result of that, so thank you to all the rockin’ bands of the 70s and 80s.” Here’s a snapshot from a record collection that’s no doubt much larger than most…

Elvis Presley – Paralyzed, 1956

I first heard this song at my grandparents’ house in the early 80s. I was already an Elvis Presley fan, however my grandfather said to me something along the lines of: “You think you have heard Elvis? Well, listen to this…” He then
went on to give me this record, along with another one – both on 78 – and I still have them both today.
I was totally blown away when I first heard Paralyzed, and it still sounds just as fresh to me today as it did back then. What an absolute classic from the King!


Sonny Burgess – Red Headed Woman, 1956

Wow, what a track! This is the flipside, would you believe? This song is one of the most energetic records I have heard, and in my younger days you couldn’t keep me off the floor with this classic. I later had the pleasure of meeting Sonny several times and became friends with him. He told me some great stories, which I will always treasure. As a DJ, you’re always trying to mix up your sets, but you can guarantee this killer track will leave the dancefloor beaten to death by you mad lot! It simply has to be played.

Alvis Wayne – Sleep, Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby, 1956

Back in the 90s, my friends Perry and John brought over the great Alvis Wayne. We drove to the airport and there he stood, over 6ft, his guitar in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We became good friends and I went on tour with him. We took him to Essex to see The Jets. I’ll always remember Wild Cat Pete standing in amazement that Alvis was in the building! He heard The Jets playing his track and said: “Hell, that’s my song!” It didn’t take much to get him to do a number or two.

Mac CurtisGrandaddy’s Rockin’, 1956 

I bought an album called King-Federal Rockabillys (King’s Vintage Vault Collectors Series) as a teenager, a must for any rockabilly fan. It has so many great tracks on it, including four more by Mac Curtis. I remember seeing this on the shelf in my local record shop and I just had to have it. All the tracks on the album take me back to a time when I was young and energetic. I used to walk into a dancehall with my mates and when it came on we’d bop frantically, trying to look cool with my collar up – how funny!

Charlie Feathers – One Hand Loose, 1956 

One Hand Loose is another song that I can remember from my teenage years and is also included on the King-Federal Rockabillys album (alongside three more tracks on the compilation from Charlie). Growing up on the scene, this was always a dancefloor smash! I first recall hearing this record at the Headstone in Harrow, which was a great club. This track still packs the dancefloor to this day and has gone down in the rockin’ history books as one of the greatest raw rockabilly tracks of all time.

The Monotones – Book Of Love, 1958

I’ve gone off the rockabilly wagon for this one. It’s a doo-wop classic with great harmonies, and such a good-feeling song. I first heard this while watching American Graffiti. It puts me in mind of great music, great cars – and I always think this song would have been perfect in The Wanderers. I love playing these sorts of songs while driving – this is the stuff that me and my mates would play whilst on the way to venues like The Thunderbird Club, the Horn Of Plenty in St Albans, Silks and many others.

Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel, 1956

What an absolute killer of a record! Watching Elvis sing this on The Ed Sullivan Show just gives me goosebumps: the energy, the playful manner in which he sings and the girls screaming. The live version was a dancefloor filler and
I still play that from time to time. Elvis’ vocal range is amazing, and I love listening to the Million Dollar Quartet when he is impersonating Billy Ward singing this. My boys say: “Dad, that’s your favourite Elvis track” – there’s too many to be a favourite, but it’s definitely up there.

Jerry Lee Lewis – High School Confidential, 1958

My late father was a pianist, so I’ve always liked the piano. It opened me up to little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee. When I first heard this again in the 80s, I couldn’t believe the energy and talent of Jerry Lee. It’s not played enough in the clubs today, so I always try to slip it into a DJ set somewhere. I played it in some of the final heats in a national jive contest, where it was a very tight competition – this track sorted it out! I’ve been very fortunate to see Jerry Lee perform and he’s still a great, even today.

Buddy Holly – Everyday, 1957

I love this, it reminds me of my late mother. She was a true inspiration  – a wonderful, kind lady who loved rock’n’roll. She brought me a Buddy Holly greatest hits album for my birthday when I was 12 and Everyday was the song I played constantly… nearly every day (see what I did there?). His unique voice and guitar playing goes down in musical history – did you know he opened for Elvis three times in 1955? I think if he’d lived there would have been a lot more great music. I still try to slip the odd song into my DJ sets.  

Janis Martin – Billy Boy, Billy Boy/ Will You, Willyum, 1957

A gang of us went to a weekender in Devon and by chance we made friends with Janis Martin and spent time drinking with her – she signed mine and my mate’s back. My mate had it tattooed, but my wife-to-be, Sharon, was not keen, so mine got washed off. Janis was on stage after spending most of the day with us drinking. When she sang these songs, my friends were pointing to me. By the end of Billy Boy there were so many people pointing in my direction. What a memory!