Tim Westwood is without doubt a character that divides opinion, it seems some give him respect for being one of the original Hip Hop DJ's in the UK with his continued support of the music, whilst others see him as an easy target to label as a wannabe etc. To be honest Westwood, like Mike Allen, deserves his own website that details his early days as there is much to talk about, however as this site is specific to Mike Allen I will squeeze as much as I can into one page.

I have a lot of respect for Westwood, he has been there from day one and has continued to support the music through thick and thin. In the early days he had one of the most credible shows on the radio, you can hear how his shows developed throughout the 1980's, the fact he has always been one of the top Hip Hop DJ's in the country and continues to be relevant today surely has to prove he is good at what he does. I think there are very few in the UK who can claim to have done anywhere near what Westwood has done to promote and push Hip Hop in the UK, particularly in the early days. I think those that knock him are probably just unaware of what his contributions have been over the years.

Westwood always appeared to be the most active on the club circuit when compared to Mike Allen or Dave Pearce, he was continually organising and headlining jams across London in the 1980's and would often be involved somehow when the US rap acts made a visit to the UK.

Westwood's name seems to first appear on the scene in 1983, he was a regular at The Ace Roller Disco in Brixton and Gossips in Dean St, Soho. At this time it would appear he was playing a mixture of soul and funk with a few Hip Hop records thrown in, understandable as Hip Hop was still very new to most, and only a few records were getting over in the clubs.

The listings below are taken from Blues & Soul magazine in 1983, in every issue the top DJ's would list their current playlists, it was basically a measure of what was hot in the clubs at the time. These are some of Westwood's contributions that year, you can see it is generally soul/funk influenced with a few Hip Hop cuts starting to come through.

April 1983 May 1983 June 1983 August 1983

In 1984 Westwood was on the radio, he had a show on the pirate station LWR, it appears it grew into a full on Hip Hop show from something that started as a funk/soul show that featured a few Hip Hop records, in a very similar way to Mike Mike's Capital show. By early to mid 1984 he had fully embraced Hip Hop and this is what was played on the show. I never listened to this show at the time but have managed to obtain a few copies over the years, it had a very underground and raw feel to it which really suited the music he was playing. The earliest recording I have is from July 1984 so this pre-dates Mike's Capital show, the latest recording I have is from late 1986. What was impressive about this show is that he was already playing breakbeats, this would have been way before most people in the UK understood the concept of breaks.

February 1984 April/May 1984 Westwood Hip Hop Jam September 1984

The year 1984 also saw Westwood start his own regular feature in Blues & Soul magazine, the title was 'Zulu Message' and was given one or two pages every issue. There would be reports from the US, interviews, news on the latest records, a Beat Box chart and photos from recent club nights, there was very little written about Hip Hop in the media so this was an invaluable source of information for anybody interested in what was happening in the scene. 'Zulu Message' ran in Blues & Soul from July 1984 until November 1986, below is a scan of the very first edition, click on the images to enlarge them...

Westwood's highlights of 1984 Westwood presents Run DMC in March 1985

In 1986 Westwood moved from LWR to Kiss 94 FM, a pirate station in London that he co-owned, recordings of this show seem to be very limited, I only have a couple myself and have rarely seen them on the internet. The format for the Kiss show was very much the same as the LWR shows, it was broadcast on Sundays between 11am-1pm. Westwood seemed to really favour the east coast sound and mainly played the latest NYC jams, he would also play a bit of funk and many of the original breaks, something the other DJ's never really did, although Mike Allen would on occasion play the odd James Brown record. He also played a lot of exclusive stuff, live sessions from clubs, unreleased tracks etc, for example he once played the original Run DMC version of the Beastie Boys 'Slow and Low', a track which only surfaced for the first time 20+ years later when it appeared on a Run DMC re-issue.

Westwood would remain on Kiss FM until the end of 1987 where he would then replace the departed Mike Allen on Capital Radio, his first Capital show's were broadcast on Friday nights in October 1987 around midnight and only lasted for 30 minutes. The first recordings I have of the Westwood Capital show are from January 1988 by which time the show had increased to one hour, so Capital had gone from 5 hours of Hip Hop a week on at prime time Friday/Saturday night, to just one hour after midnight, however the show would become classic material and a must listen for Hip Hop fans.

On Wednesday 5th August 1987 BBC2 aired an Open Space documentary named 'Bad Meaning Good', the 30 minute film was put together by Westwood and focused on the emerging London rap scene of the time. Featured artists included the London Posse, DJ Fingers, Cookie Crew and an interview with Run DMC who were playing at the Brixton Academy, there is also a great scene inside Groove Records.

Westwood on Kiss FM in 1987

The year 1988 was probably the year that Westwood really started to make a name for himself on a national level, not only did he have his Capital Rap show, he now also fronted his own TV show. The show was called 'N Sign Radio' and featured as part of ITV's Night Network, a collection of programmes that run late into the night, although this became an issue if you wanted to record it as you never had any idea when it would be on, the best solution was to just leave a 3 hour tape in and record the whole lot unless you fancied staying up half the night. Westwood must be given credit for this show, how he persuaded ITV to give him 30 minutes of airtime every Friday night for a Hip Hop show is anyone's guess, N Sign Radio was great TV, it was possibily the only way you were going to get to see Hip Hop videos in the UK at the time. The other bonus was that not only did he play the current hits but would also regularly dig into the archives to show video's from years past, classic videos from the likes of Whodini, Jonzun Crew, Jazzy Jeff etc. This show was probably the first chance many got to see or hear Westwood and by now he had developed his unique style of patter, that he has become known so well for. Other ventures of Westwood at the time was a Rap phone line where you could hear the latest news and beats, he also had his own chart that was printed in Echoes every week, listing his top 10 Hip Hop cuts of the moment, generally stuff that was not available yet.

Westwood as we saw him on N Sign Radio Westwood voted the top club DJ in 1987 In 1988 you could call to hear the latest beats

Westwood's Capital Rap show is looked back on with great respect, again he played many exclusives, live jams and demo versions of tracks which never saw the light of day (the famous Ultramagnetic MCs tracks being the best example). He always seemed to be ahead of the competition when picking up the latest records and it was in this ear that he really established himself as the number one Hip Hop DJ in the UK. He would later leave Capital Radio for the BBC, where he still has a national rap show to this day.