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This is where DJ Charlie Gillett enters the story. John and a former girlfriend had opened a record store in Kentish Town three years before. It lasted a matter of months, but John had written to Gillett at Radio London asking what records to stock and he wrote straight back with tips.

“He was a champion of up-and-coming bands, in a different way to John Peel,” says John. “Charlie’s music was kinder on the ears.”

Illsley had Gillett’s home address, so he and Mark delivered their demo, not expecting much. “We dropped it off on the Thursday and he played it on Sunday morning. He said Sultans was the best new song he’d heard in years. The phone started melting on the wall.




Next in London: John Kendall Records
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A-Z next: John Isaacs