Mike’s career started in 1969 in the Starlight Room at Southport’s Kingsway Casino. Resident DJ Baby Bob Stewart, about to start at Radio Luxembourg, had offered Mike his job out of the blue. Music policy at the Kingsway was rare soul and R ‘n’ B, which suited Mike’s record collection just fine. He was only 17, and he shared the spot with Ormskirk DJ Phil Sawyer.
Two years later, music policy at the Kingsway became more mainstream. Mike moved to a more intimate Southport venue, the Nest Club, owned by local bookie Alec Morris. At the time Mike had changed his musical allegiance to street funk. He was the first Southport DJ to play James Brown, Bobby Byrd and the JBs. Mike only lasted a few months at the Nest. Wages were meagre and he now had a wife to support.
In 1970 Mike met Dave Kay (also affectionately known in Liverpool clubland as 'Dave the Rave') who, along with Jeff Hartley, ran a successful mobile disco road show. It was called “Radio Doom Good Guys”, and Mike wanted a piece of the action. Mike and Phil Sawyer started off at Radio Doom as Northern Soul dancers! Then Jeff quit, and Mike took over as DJ in 1972. The job at Radio Doom lasted six years.
In 1978 Mike joined Open Eye, a community communications and media project. He designed and built an eight-track recording studio, and established two record labels: Zoo Records and Open Eye Records. He was a pioneer of the new Merseybeat, working with bands like Big in Japan, Dead or Alive, OMD, the Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen. Both the studio and the record labels were a great hit locally. While at Open Eye Mike was studying for an HNC at Preston Poly. He became social secretary for the Students’ Union, and spent three years as a student DJ and events organiser. In 1981, with the HNC finished, Mike left Open Eye to study full-time at Liverpool University. Leaving Open Eye was a wrench, but he hadn’t had a hit record!
After leaving Preston Mike carried on as a DJ at the Poly. At a Theatre of Hate gig he met Andy Carroll, a Southport DJ. Andy invited Mike to join him as a DJ at a club in Southport called Sandbaggers. They worked together from 1982 to 84, playing stuff like the Cure, New Order, Southern Death Cult, Kraftwerk, the Clash and A Certain Ratio. Mike also played one gig for the Liverpool Uni Guild of Students: the 1984 Summer Ball with Curtis Mayfield.
Mike graduated in July 1984. He then took up residency at the Cavern – an exact replica of the club where the Beatles made their name. He did lunchtime sessions six days a week, with fresh local talent, just as Bob Wooler did in the early sixties. The sessions were a runaway success. Then, later in 1984, Mike became resident DJ at the State Ballroom. Mike and his old mate Andy Carroll played music such as Talking Heads, Simple Minds, U2, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and New Order.