The cast

Oral histories




Even before he came to Britain, Biddu was already a star. Back home in India he was a massive live draw as a singer, in a kind of easy-crooning style, but the market simply wasn't there for a man of his ambition. Jacking it all in, he hitchhiked from India to England where he had decided his fortune was going to be made. Whilst passing through Beirut he heard 'Reach Out, I'll Be There' by The Four Tops blasting out of a shop - it was, he says, the first time he had ever heard black music and it produced a Pauline conversion.

He arrived in Britain determined to be a record producer and began writing and producing a series of small-scale dance records that he licensed to other labels and tended to sell anything up to five thousand copies. On one of the sessions, he gave his new signing Carl Douglas fifteen minutes to try out his song as a b-side. A sharp-eyed executive at Pye spotted the strength of the track and insisted it be the a-side: 'Kung Fu Fighting' went on to sell somewhere in the region of ten million copies worldwide.

That was in 1974 when disco was just starting. Two American records from that year - George Macrae's 'Rock Your Baby' and 'Rock The Boat' by The Hues Corporation - gave Biddu the rhythmic inspiration for his next big hit: 'I Love To Love' by Tina Charles. He also had some success with his own instrumental hits, rejuvenated the career of 60s soul legend Jimmy James and worked on one single with The Real Thing (though neither party rates the collaboration too highly).

The hit singles tailed off in early 1978 - coincidentally following the death of the man who arranged all of them, Gerry Shury. Maybe Gerry was the real talent in the partnership? Actually that's probably overstating the case. Gerry was undoubtedly the unsung hero of British soul in the 70s, but Biddu's position as the king of British disco is unassailable: someone had to make this stuff happen and Biddu was the one who was prepared to take a chance on the new era of dance-oriented pop. And between them they created a uniquely British sound that occupied the middle ground between the American originals and the nascent Munich machine.

Nowadays his talent is exclusively focused on the Indian market, where his records are still hugely successful. As he points out, it's good that way: now his mum knows how big a star he is.

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'None of the artists I had were attractive'
Biddu and his stable

Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams