TROUBLE & FRIENDS: REMEMBERING THE INIMITABLE PAUL 'TROUBLE' ANDERSON
When Paul Trouble Anderson passed away in 2018, we lost a true legend of house music. Many in the UK said we had lost our Frankie, our Larry, but we had lost ‘Trouble’ - and there was only one Trouble. Faith’s Stuart Patterson got chatting with Paul’s long-time friend and associate JT. With contributions from many of his friends and peers, here they remember the mighty PTA.
Paul in Miami by Eddie Otchere
Paul Anderson was born in Hackney, East London in September 1959, the second youngest of six children of Jamaican heritage. He was placed in care aged two, enduring a tough early life in various children’s homes around the country where he quickly learned to stand up for himself.
Paul would frequently dance in the children’s homes, also sneaking out to a youth disco in Oakwood. His love of music, in particular reggae, would lead him into the London sound system world, where he followed the likes of Biggsy, Tubbsy, Fatman and Chicken. Acquiring his own reggae system from his uncle, he branched out into soul, dubbed the system TroubleFunk, and so acquired his legendary stage name, ‘Trouble’.
Paul’s obsessive love for dancing led him to the seminal Soho venue Crackers, where George Power held his legendary Jazz-Funk and Disco sessions. Crackers was on Friday afternoons and a 15 year-old Paul would bunk off school to attend. Paul was one of the fiercest dancers, inspired by Trevor Shakes and Horace. He made the transition from dancefloor to DJ when George realised how good Paul was. Crackers regular Dez Parkes: “Paul was a real soldier to the game. A loving and kind brother. A great DJ and a very good dancer, a real character and then some.”
As Paul himself said: ‘’It was all about Crackers back in the 70s and the early 80s, incredible night. It was about music and life, the people that came there were music first, they would dance all night. Incredible, underground music, American imports. George Power was responsible for that, and I was his anchor man. As a kid growing up in urban London on dance music it was fantastic. Crackers was a blessing for me. It’s my history and I learned so much serving as a warm-up for George.”
‘An Original Boogie Man’
In the early 80s Paul went on to make regular appearances at revered venues like Global Village, The Embassy and the Electric Ballroom, where he played Electro and Boogie downstairs, while a young Gilles Peterson played Jazz upstairs: “Paul Anderson is one of the most important people in London night-club culture,” says Peterson. “Paul is an original Boogie man, playing material that’s very dirty, very bouncy, real shuffle.”
Always ahead of the game, Paul was the first DJ in London to play ‘Planet Rock’. “I played it at the Electric Ballroom and everybody freaked,” he recalled. “There were a lot of guys around who were playing Electro in those days. Mastermind and DJ Herbie, he was the main man – he did all the Street Sounds Electro compilations. It was all new, and everybody wanted to be a scratch DJ.” When Grandmaster Flash played in London in the early 1980s, Paul was suitably inspired: “I saw Grandmaster Flash twice at Dingwalls and had to reassess my shit.”
JT takes up the story: “The Electric Ballroom was our Paradise Garage. The music was the same mixture of Electro, Boogie and Proto-House that Larry Levan was playing in New York at that time. Paul was the inspiration for all the London scenes that followed - Africa Centre, Dance Wicked, High on Hope.” London club scene stalwart and Young Disciple Femi Fem has his own recollections of this period: “I left school and went to the Electric Ballroom. All these Boogie tunes I heard Paul Trouble playing, well he was the guy that set me on my path.”
‘I’ve never heard anyone play records like Paul’
In 1985 Paul joined Kiss FM, which quickly became London’s most popular pirate broadcaster, where he further developed his DJing skills: “I’m going to be a mixer,” he told another capital pioneer, Roy the Roach, outside Kiss in 1986. Roy reflects that: “Paul Anderson mixes like no other – it really is a part of him, a natural body reaction. Paul doesn’t just mix, he recreates. He naturally and seamlessly turns two tracks into a totally new sound. I’ve never heard anyone play records like Paul.”
A naturally gifted DJ, Paul’s all-action style would involve cutting, scratching, mixing, phasing and doing spin-backs on three decks. He influenced many British DJs and directly taught Frankie Foncett: “I always think about my dear friend and brother Paul Anderson. The epitome of style, creativity and talent. A hero, trail-blazer and eternal,” Foncett reminisces. Amongst the many others he taught was Carl Cox: “Paul Anderson was a mentor to me. Paul is the King of the dance-floor and a credit to us all.” Trevor Nelson says simply: “Paul was my DJ hero.”
As early as 1987, on moving to London for six months Frankie Knuckles became firm friends with Trouble: “I love Paul. Paul is amazing, so talented. Paul is my favourite Londoner,” he told JT. And as house slowly but surely became the capital’s dominant soundtrack, Paul made the transition with ease. Characteristically he soon found himself front and centre as the scene exploded, playing at many of the big raves such as Sunrise, Biology and Back To The Future alongside the likes of Colin Favor, Fabio, Eddie Richards and Paul Oakenfold who says simply “Paul inspired me, he was a true gentleman.”
However, Paul was still equally at home in clubland. In 1989 Fat Tony was his co-resident on Wednesday nights at the Café de Paris: “Paul was such a pioneer for so much of today’s music. What Paul did way back then is still the soundtrack of today. Paul was and is House music.” Later that year he also played regularly at several of the capital’s leading house nights, such as Love at the Wag alongside CJ Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell, Sunday nights at Solaris and Enter the Dragon on Fridays at the Park.
‘We just had an “OG” understanding’
After a long campaign, Kiss went fully legal in 1990, and for many house heads in London and as far as the signal stretched, Saturday evenings was Trouble’s Original Mix Show, which ran 9pm-11pm for eight years. This was not only one of the most listened to shows on 1990s radio, but also one of the most influential. His incredible hot mix of Advance Dance dub-plates, new releases, specials and disco classics was second to none, and also the source of frustration to many of his fellow DJs, as Trouble’s network enabled him to get tunes months before any other UK spinner. He also had an unmatchable cast of special guests singing live on the show including Byron Stingily, Keith Thompson, and John Redmond.
His fellow Kiss FM DJ Norman Jay recalls: “On Kiss FM nobody played the new House records, the new dance records, out of Chicago and New York like Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson”. Along the way he inspired and supported so many music makers. “Paul played a big part in giving us – 4Hero – the confidence in our music as he was the first big DJ to play one of our productions on the radio,” says Marc Mac.
Paul’s party Trouble’s House at Legends, off Regent Street, on Thursdays between ‘91-92 was one of the first to bring American talent to the UK regularly; with guests Todd Terry, Ten City, DJ Pierre and David Morales: “I first met Trouble in 1989 on my first trip to the UK. We hit it off immediately. We just had an “OG” understanding between us. Trouble was one of the leaders when it came to soul music. He played a song in Croatia a couple of years back and I had to walk up to him and say, “not many people know about this”, it was a disco song from the mid-70s. Trouble had a pure organic soul.”
‘The Loft was all about dancing’
“Some of my greatest memories are of Paul’s Loft parties in Camden. Whenever he plays you always feel a kind of magic in the air. You can see it in the faces of people he brings together.” So says Robert Owens of the legendary party that Paul launched in late 1992.
Beginning life under the name Trouble and Friends at HQs in Camden Lock, the party was soon re-named simply The Loft by Paul’s ex Minnie. “The venue was ideal, an intimate 300 capacity attic with beams and a wooden floor,” she says. “JT introduced Paul to Davy Diamond and his wonderfully warm system with a proper bass, and it made all the difference. We started booking singers, it was a venue that was set up for live acts, the stage was correct.”
House and Disco royalty performed amazing live shows every week: Michael Watford, Barbara Tucker, Robert Owens, Jocelyn Brown, Kathy Sledge, Byron Stingily, Loleatta Holloway, Colonel Abrams, Joi Cardwell, Kathy Brown, Andrea Mendez and Gerideau, Arnold Jarvis, Crystal Waters, Keith Thompson, Ce Ce Rogers, Rosie Gaines, Amira, Daryl Pandy, Mone, Alison Limerick, Shola Phillips, Bryan Chambers, Carole Sylvan, Stephen Granville, John Redmond, Jean Carne and UltraNate. Paul always said: “The Loft was about the live performances and the dancers, the Loft was all about dancing. I wanted people to see the artist behind the voice.”
The Loft’s many magical nights are truly the stuff of clubland legend. Michael Watford’s epic powerful performances. Loleatta Holloway’s unique Diva action as she sang, then walked into the crowd, sat down on the floor, and continued singing. Paul’s birthday with Phil Asher and Jocelyn Brown live. Arnold Jarvis singing about racism and freedom in ‘The Colour of My Skin’ bringing the crowd to tears. The Loft ran for eight years until the venue was shut down for redevelopment, being voted best mid-week club night three years running by London publications The Evening Standard and Time Out.
One of those singers to grace the stage at The Loft was Ultra Nate: “Paul was the epitome of the London Soul and House music scene. The energy with Paul was always 100% and he truly appreciated me as an artist. He welcomed me with open arms and so much love. For me Paul was family, he was a great dancer, with the brilliant smile that set the room ablaze with passion week after week. It wasn’t over-produced, it was raw and organic, because he loved the music, the people, the dancers, the partnership between us all. The Loft was magic and a moment that can never be recreated.” Joi Cardwell echoes the love for Trouble amongst the singers who performed at The Loft. “Paul Anderson was an Angel bringing us light, love and flavour. Great music, great energy and a great spirit. He was a wonderful person,” she says.
For New Jersey singer Gerideau appearing at The Loft was an important part of his own musical journey. “Performing at The Loft made me feel like I was part of something legendary,” he says. “Paul always made me feel so special. He was the Bob Marley of House music. He gave authenticity to House music and made it feel like we were making history in those moments. Paul was a wonderful man who always welcomed me with love.”
Keith Thompson adds to the plaudits: “Paul was one of my two favourite DJs. We shared similar heritage, birth sign and love for dancing. I was honoured that he supported many of my songs. We were all blessed to call him a colleague and club life inspiration.”
However, Paul’s influence spread way beyond London’s borders, as Fleur Woolford told us: “In Scotland we used to wait for cassette copies of Paul’s radio show to be passed around our friends and played over and over again. We’d go and see Paul if he was in town. We totally idolised him and made the trip to London on the train for the Loft.”
Through the 1990s Paul was playing all over the UK, invariably at the best parties: Back To Basics in Leeds, Hard Times in Huddersfield and Southport weekender-organised events in Liverpool and then Minehead. Southport boss Alex Lowes: “Paul Anderson is a beautiful person with a passion for music like no other. When curating Southport weekender and Suncebeat he was always top of the list. Paul is irreplaceable, the Southport family miss him so much. He is always in our hearts.”
‘Paul was the platinum standard of London DJs’
Speaking to other DJs it soon became clear the high regard he was held in. “I have lots of great memories of Paul, especially those hazy nights at HQs in Camden,’ says London DJ Noel Watson. “Kenny Dope and I stood at the bar, I bought Kenny a brandy and we toasted Paul. Paul is the DJs’ DJ. Paul and I shared mixing duties for a Garage compilation, his mixes were sublime, he really understood how to build and perfect a mix. God rest his soul.”
He was equally revered on the other side of the pond. “Paul Anderson is one of my heroes,” says Louie Vega. “Paul was humble, musical and an amazing entertainer. One of my DJ heroes, right up there with Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and David Mancuso. A UK version of those guys. Paul inspired me.”
Kenny Carpenter and Terry Hunter added to this saying “Paul Anderson is one of the best DJs I ever heard” and “Paul Anderson is a true warrior”. And just prior to going to press we heard back from Tony Humphries who told us: “Paul Anderson is a bad dude. The way he played, man, soulful, raw, funky”.
Paul was also taken to the hearts of Italian clubbers, arguably the only visiting UK DJ to be accorded the same respect by the Italian scene as the US superstars. At the time, Karen Goldie was a vital conduit between the UK and Italian scenes: “Around 92/3 I went to The Loft in Camden. The music selection included acetates, white labels, a House music vault of gems of unreleased music. Trouble danced beautifully and sang every record with a passion which spread over the dancefloor. Immediately I was a fan and wanted to book him in Italy. However complicated the travel or the business, once Paul dropped each first record whether it be at Angels of Love, Echoes , Colazione da Tiffany or at his residency at Fluid in Bergamo, it was magical. The Italians loved Trouble and he loved them.” Karen went on to manage Paul for a number of years, as he also played regularly in Ibiza, Switzerland, Japan, Miami, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Australia, Croatia, France and Dubai.
By the 2000s, the scene and music changed. Paul would never compromise his sound. He re-started The Loft on Valentine’s day 2002 at Madame JoJos in Soho with Funkie P and live performances from Bryan Chambers and Andrea Mendez. It ran weekly on Thursday nights. He also had regular sets in London at Herbal, The Lodge and Bar Vinyl in this period. He celebrated his 50t birthday party at Surya, Kings Cross in 2009 with Phil Asher, JT and guest Leroy Burgess who said: “Paul was the platinum standard of London DJs, much like New York City’s Larry Levan. He was the one they all admired and emulated. Paul’s love and dedication to music ran through his blood the same way it runs through mine. The way Paul played made it impossible to not dance. His selections had the ability to completely erase your worries and woes. Then there was Paul’s smile and his moves. I’ve never known any DJ to cut-the-rug with such skill and precision, while spinning record after record. Paul never seemed to tire. His energy seemed endless.”
‘I am a DJ, what am I going to do, stay at home and watch telly?’
However, by March 2012 Paul was very ill. “He had a tumour removed the size of a grape-fruit,” says JT. “They took out his left lung and two ribs. The Doctors wanted Paul to rest. Four weeks later he was DJing in Brighton. I asked Paul to go on holiday and rest and recover. Paul wanted to play: “I am a DJ, what am I going to do stay at home, and watch telly?” I collected Paul and we drove to Brighton. he was in pain, but he played like a Don. Paul carried on DJing until the end. A true warrior”.
Long-time promoter and PR Nicky Trax was close to Paul: “My most special and treasured memories of Paul are at the Loft in the 1990s. Taking his lead we were an incredible close-knit crowd of dancers, music lovers and friends. Paul’s music sessions lit up our lives every week boosted by some amazing live performances by artists he loved. Paul’s love and skill at playing music can literally uplift and transform how people are feeling. his Loft was our mid-week church.”
In May 2012 Nicky and JT held ‘Celebrate Life’ – Paul’s All-Star Macmillan fund-raiser at the Ministry of Sound with amazing live performances from Robert Owens, Alison Limerick, Reel People, Victoria Wilson-James, Bryan Chambers, Lisa Millet and Shola Phillips. DJs included Phil Asher, Danny Rampling, CJ Mackintosh, Norman Jay, Karizma and Colin Favor.
Still irrepressible, from September 2012 Paul launched Bump and Hustle at Peckham’s Bussey Building, the night running until July 2018, with Phil Asher as a regular guest: “The legendary Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson was an entertainer, an amazing DJ and a friend. Spending time with him behind the decks and in Paul’s company for over 25 years I felt honoured to know him. From the first time I heard him at the Electric Ballroom to the last time we played together on the same line-up in Ibiza. Paul never failed to impress me, he was a consummate DJ. He could also hold a good conversation / debate which were always entertaining. I loved Paul and he is truly missed. Long live the spirit and energy of the legendary Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson. A true King.”
‘An incredible human being’
In the same year Paul teamed up again with Gordon Mac (‘’Paul could mix oil with water’’), his one -time boss at Kiss FM, to host his mix show TroubleTime on Mi-Soul radio. The station grew quickly, gaining a DAB license in summer 2015, with Paul in residence every Saturday night, until just before he passed. He is held in such reverence at the station that his spot has not been taken by one DJ, but rather is shared by guests such as DJ Spen (“Paul Anderson was a great inspiration and an incredible human being”) and Teddy Douglas: “Paul was more than a DJ, he was a legend, he was like the Larry Levan of the UK.”.
Mi-Soul’s Ronnie Herel adds: “Paul was quite simply better than the rest. I would go and check him spinning at the Wag in the late 1980s and listen to his Advance Dance mix show on Kiss FM. When Paul mixed House music and Boogie there was always an element of genius when the next record was coming in, and the next record was always a banger. Paul always got tunes exclusively six months before anyone else. He was a true inspiration to me, making me want to up my game as a DJ every time I heard him. I miss the legendary PTA dearly.”
Paul’s productions and remixes should not be overlooked as he worked with many artists including Pet Shop Boys, Soul II Soul, Junior Reid, Byron Stingily and Thelma Houston. More recently he created some wonderful music with his unique tune ‘Greedy T’, a funk powered bomb with a message; his TroubleNova re-fix of Casanova; and his last release, a cover of the Edwin Hawkins 1968 Gospel classic ‘Oh Happy Day’ sung by Chicago’s late John Redmond.
‘We’re all here to learn, share and care. If you aren’t doing that, what are you doing here?’
JT remembers the final days: “Paul was seriously ill. He survived two strokes and carried on playing with one arm. Paul’s last gigs were Sunday 5th August 2018 in Margate. Paul smashed it in the afternoon sunshine, and then represented that night in the club. We danced, smoked and joked all day and night. Paul carried on fighting and doing his radio show. On December 2ns Paul went upstairs to be with Larry and Frankie.”
Paul was honoured on December 19th at the Union Chapel in Islington. A beautiful, powerful and emotional service. Everyone returned to the Electric Ballroom afterwards, a joyful Wednesday afternoon full of London’s dancers, industry and club faces.
Paul’s legacy will last forever, there is an ever-growing group on Facebook where fans post photos, videos and the tracks that Paul used to play.
The last words should be from Paul himself. “I do this for the love of people, the love of music and the love of life. We’re all here to learn, share and care. If you aren’t doing that, what are you doing here?”
Massive thanks to Jonathan Taylor (JT) for his time, insights and love with this article. And to Nick Gordon Brown for all his help.
JT’s recommended mixes/viewing:
1. Paul Anderson Kiss FM Boxing Day Thursday 26th December 1991 – mixcloud
2. Paul Anderson & Tony Humphries Kiss FM June 1992 - mixcloud
3. Radio One Essential mix – Paul Anderson Saturday 8th September 1996 – mixcloud / youtube
4 Paul “Trouble” Anderson Chicago mix – mixcloud
5. Paul Anderson live 1989 “1989 UK Rave, DJ, Dancing, Ipswich, 1980s, Acid House” – youtube
6. Paul “Trouble” Anderson – Ten Commandments of Mix – youtube
7. Funky Music (Baby) – Charlie Brown – youtube
8. Sounds Of Blackness Acapella @ Southport Heritage Weekender – youtube