When it comes to the history of Northern Soul, there are few names as legendary as Russ Winstanley. Winstanley was one of the driving forces behind the movement, a DJ who helped to popularise the unique sound and style of Northern Soul in the 1970s and beyond. He was a passionate collector of rare soul records, and he brought that passion to his work as a DJ, promoter, and radio host.

Russ Winstanley: The Man Behind the Movement

Russ Winstanley was born in 1942 in Wigan, a town in the heart of Northern England. He grew up listening to rock and roll and R&B, but it wasn’t until he attended a Northern Soul event in the late 1960s that he truly found his calling. Winstanley quickly became one of the most influential figures in the Northern Soul scene, thanks in large part to his encyclopaedic knowledge of rare soul records.

Winstanley began his career as a DJ in 1971, when he started hosting a weekly soul night at the famed Wigan Casino. The night was an immediate success, drawing crowds of passionate soul fans from all over the country. Winstanley’s reputation grew quickly, and he soon became known as one of the best DJs in the Northern Soul scene.

In addition to his work as a DJ, Winstanley was also a talented promoter. He organised events like the famous “100 Club All-Nighters,” which brought together the best Northern Soul DJs and dancers for all-night parties in London. He also helped to organise tours for American soul acts like Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack, introducing them to Northern Soul audiences and helping to cement their status as legends of the genre.

Russ Winstanley’s Record Collection

One of the things that set Russ Winstanley apart as a DJ and promoter was his vast collection of rare soul records. Winstanley was always on the hunt for the next great Northern Soul track, scouring record shops, flea markets, and private collections for hidden gems. He would often travel to the United States in search of new records, and he was known to spend hours digging through dusty crates in search of that one perfect track.

Winstanley’s collection of rare soul records was so extensive that it filled several rooms in his home. He had thousands of records, ranging from well-known classics to obscure tracks that had never been released on CD or digital formats. Winstanley was a true connoisseur of soul music, and his collection was a testament to his deep knowledge and love of the genre.

The Impact of Winstanley’s Record Collection

Winstanley’s record collection had a profound impact on the Northern Soul scene. His ability to uncover rare tracks and bring them to a wider audience helped to expand the boundaries of the genre and keep it fresh and exciting. He would often use his rarest and most prized records to close out his DJ sets, creating an electrifying atmosphere that left audiences breathless.

Winstanley’s Contributions to Radio and Television

In addition to his work as a DJ and promoter, Russ Winstanley was also a popular radio and television personality. He hosted several radio shows over the years, including the popular Soul Time program on Radio Lancashire. On this show, he would play a mix of classic soul tracks and obscure Northern Soul gems, sharing his deep knowledge and love of the genre with his listeners.

Winstanley was also a regular on British television, appearing on programs like Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. His appearances on these shows helped to bring Northern Soul to a wider audience and further cemented his status as a key figure in the movement.