Background information on the passing of a well-known and much loved
personality from the West Midlands' Soul Scene followed by funeral
and wake dance details (PLEASE LOOK AT FUNERAL INFORMATION, AS THERE
HAS BEEN A CHANGE TO THE EVENING SOUL DANCE ARRANGEMENTS).
My beloved wife and soulmate of 40 years, Helen who died recently of
cancer, aged only 58, after a rollercoaster struggle with the scourge
for 18 months.
Helen Pereira - "Queen Of The Go-Go"
Being born in Dudley and living in the Black Country for most of her
early life, Helen became a fan of soul music at a very early age, in
1967. She hailed from a working class, council estate background but
soon discovered a wonderful, exciting escape where she could be 'lost
in music'. Soulful dance music. She attended local discotheques like
those at Stewart & LLoyd's, Bilston where she first began to hone her
considerable dance skills.
Most DJs of the time favoured Soul and Motown music which was simply
made for dancing - and so became the original discotheque music.
Always searching for bigger and better venues, where the 'sounds'
were played first, she found herself drawn to the UK's premier soul
clubs like the Catacombs, Twisted Wheel, Chateau Impney, UTJ,
Bankhouse and Terry Heath's amongst others. She soon began attending
these venues religiously every week. Be certain, the atmosphere was
electric in these places, and like many other young souls, she soon
became hooked, as it turned out, for life.
She was without doubt the darling of Wolverhampton's legendary
Catacombs Club in the late sixties and early seventies... the 'queen
of the go-go' if you like. There was always a crowd around her - a
buzz, an excitement. She was at the centre of the Midlands' scene,
the life and soul of the party, the best dancer out there -
backdrops, frontdrops, spins, the lot. Everyone wanted to know her,
be with her... a magnet. She was right at the hub of the 'in crowd',
and stunning with it. I (and my mates) could only admire from afar in
those early days.
I was fortunate enough to get to to know Helen in 1972, and we became
a couple in 1973, famously getting engaged after just two weeks - so
it was bound to last forever! She even forgave me for spending most
of the engagement ring money on a rare record, which I needed to play
that night at the Cats, where I had since become a Saturday night
('the rare soul night') resident DJ alongside Alan 'S' and Blue Max.
Once again she became the iconic image of the soul scene, with her
jump suits, pigtails and backdrops. Blues & Soul magazine certainly
thought so - and said so.
It was just fabulous having her by my side whilst residing over the
Cats' most successful period; the summer of '73. The music was
amazing, with a whole new stream of great 'new sounds' flooding in
from the USA courtesy of, in the main, Simon Soussan and Martin
Koppel. We certainly led the way, music-wise, that summer. Nobody
could touch us - we were first with almost everything.
As the scene grew in popularity with the rise of Wigan Casino, she
happily supported me in my spell as a resident DJ there, as well as
at the Cleethorpes Pier all-nighters, and Tiffany's, Newcastle every
Sunday. She always got on great (better than me!) with my Co-DJs
Colin Curtis, Richard Searling, Soul Sam, Ian Levine, Russ
Winstanley, Keith Minshull, Dave Evison, Ginger & Eddie, John
Vincent, Brian Rae, John Manship, etc. There were many, many others
and I'm bound to have missed somebody really important, so apologies
in advance for that.
I could write a book about our adventures on the scene together, and
hope to someday.Her taste in music was impeccable, and her dancing
ability gave her an unrivalled insight into a record's suitability or
potential. So much so, many top DJs ran tunes by her for her opinion.
I can name many records she helped make 'big' and many which owe
their success and popularity entirely to her constant pestering of
After opening and running a record shop in Wolverhampton in the
mid-seventies Helen inadvertantly adopted the role of 'maternal soul
mother' to a whole new young generation of soul boys and girls who
were just beginning their Northern Soul journey. They looked to her
for first hand insights into the scene and music which had been, and
remained, her life for so long. They all respected her and soon grew
to love her for the ever-friendly and helpful person she was. Of
course she had a tougher, more stubborn side, but I guarantee, on the
odd occasion she scolded anyone, they knew they'd been scolded and
they knew they deserved it!
She was also there in 1985/6, at the forefront of the battle to save
and revive a scene which was on the brink of extinction. Slowly but
surely we both, along with a select few others, managed to revive and
stimulate the heartbeat which is Northern Soul. As a result the Soul
Scene survived its darkest days and has since blossomed further and
become the most durable and influential niche music in the world.
Serious, credible and perenially enjoyable.
More recently Helen and I took the difficult, but conscious decision
to take a sabaticle to bring up our son. Accordingly we have not been
very active on the scene of late, but we have kept quietly abreast of
Those, then youngsters - her soul children if you like from her days
in the shop - are now at the core of the scene. To their eternal
credit they are also at the crest of the wave of love and respect
being shown for her now, in her untimely death. They have been
wonderful. Everyone has been. I feel humbled. I love them all.
I know one thing for certain. She will be up there dancing 'til the
end of time, and I long for the day when I can join her. Until then I
will give our son the best start in life I can - my last promise to
her. I'll love her forever.
I feel so bad.
Devoted husband and lifelong soulmate,
Ian Pereira ('Pep').
Helen will be buried at St.Mary's Church, Oldswinford, Stourbridge on
Thursday 26tth April, Service starts at 2pm. Everyone who has known
or been touched by Helen or myself is welcome. Please be respectful
and dress appropriately. Flowers are welcome at the church or funeral
parlour. Family and friends will be exchanging stories and taking
drinks immediately afterwards.
As Helen would have loved and wanted, this will be followed in the
evening by a "Wake Soul Dance" at the superb, well known soul venue
the CONNAUGHT HOTEL, Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton where we will all
celebrate the other love of both our lives: 'Northern Soul'. It has
been necessary to move to the nearby Connaught for two reasons:
because the Mount was insisting on all the DJs having insurance, and,
we now need a bigger venue (the Connaught holds 400).
The evening dance will start around 8.30pm - 1am. Smart dress and impeccable
behaviour only please, out of respect for a beautiful, loving person.
She will want you to enjoy yourselves, celebrating her life and
loves, so there'll be no sad faces, no sad songs.
Please make this day into the most memorable of my life. My little
girl deserves it more than anyone I know.