The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

Dave Godin and the Politics of the British Soul Community

The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

Joe Street [+-]
Northumbria University
Joe Street is Senior Lecturer in American History at Northumbria University, Newcastle. His research concentrates on the nexus between politics and culture in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on African American radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s and the San Francisco Bay Area after World War Two. His publications include The Culture War in the Civil Rights Movement (2007) and Dirty Harry’s America (2016), and articles on the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, and the 1967 Stax/Volt Revue. He loves soul music but cannot dance to save his life.


Dave Godin (1936-2004) was the single most influential individual involved in popularising African American popular music in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s. As such he needs no introduction. This chapter examines two closely related aspects of his thought about the meaning of soul music and the responsibilities of soul fans. Godin wrote extensively about his experiences as a fan and of his conviction that the music was closely related to the historic African American struggle for freedom and dignity. He argued throughout his life that a close relationship existed between supporting the music and supporting this struggle. He also firmly believed that, by buying their records, the British soul community helped to support African American artists, a position that stemmed from his understanding of the political economy of soul music production. The article reveals the relationship between Godin’s position regarding soul music and his deeply-held political opinions while also detailing how it led him into conflict with certain members of the Northern Soul community in the 1970s who prized rare records that he felt deserved wider distribution. It argues that for Godin, the soul community was an inclusive and supportive community for the artists as well as the fans, and the fans had a duty to the artists that went far beyond mere appreciation of their music.

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Street, Joe. Dave Godin and the Politics of the British Soul Community. The Northern Soul Scene. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 120-141 Feb 2019. ISBN 9781781795583. Date accessed: 15 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31274. Feb 2019

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