Mike “Frenchie” Atherton

Born quite recently in Chesterfield, Mike’s epiphanal moment came when, as a boy, he heard Otis Redding’s Mr. Pitiful and realised that the singer was black. He still hasn’t recovered.

His first steps into journalism came as a student, when he edited his college’s weekly paper and wrote its record review column, ‘Recorded Ramblings by Stampin’ Seamus’. Thereafter he spent many years pretending to be a language teacher in a succession of prep schools; this was merely a front for his activities as a club, radio and mobile disc jockey and an importer and distributor of blues records.

He joined [Black] Echoes in 1976 as blues correspondent and they are still figuring out a way to get rid of him. Since then he has written about [mainly] black music for The Daily Telegraph, Blues & Soul, Album Tracking [on which, oddly, he was the singles reviewer], Blues & Rhythm, Record Collector, The Wire, Manifesto and the French magazine Soul Bag. He contributed to the Guinness Encyclopaedia of Popular Music and the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide, and ghost-wrote the memoirs of Ember Records and Flamingo Club owner Jeff Kruger. He has contributed liner notes to over 100 non-hit albums, and his other passion, for obsolete forms of transport, has led to his work being published in Railway World, Old Glory and Canal Boat magazines.

He is married to Marion; they celebrated their Silver Wedding last year, and now live in Fenland. He hibernates in winter, preferably on the Costa del Sol, but can be observed in summer steering his narrowboat ‘Trojan’ around the canals of the Midlands and stopping at all the waterside pubs.