Interview Record Hop

Turntable Tuesday: DJ Lucky La Rocka

5:00 AMZack Simpson

Welcome to part two in our Turntable Tuesday series where we interview some of our favorite DJs on the rockin' scene! Up now we have DJ Lucky La Rocka and we're very happy to have him. Lucky is originally from the U.K., but he's made his rounds to Los Angeles and has now found his way to New York. Because of this traveling he has an experienced perspective on the scene and we are lucky to have him.

Photo courtesy of

 Zack: When and how did you get your start as a DJ?

Lucky La Rocka: Wow, I think it must have been early 90s, back in the UK a bartender friend of mine in my hometown of Leicester had just got his own pub & asked me if I wanted to spin some records there, do an occasional nite. The pub was called O'Jays, did that for a while. Eventually he took over another well known pub called The Princess Charlotte & made it into a major music venue in the city. I started a nite there called VOODOO LOUNGE which ran for a few years. I DJ'd & had bands playing: Hot Boogie Chillun, The Playboys, The Blue Devils, The Arousers, The Ricardos, Jack & the Rippers, Carlos & the Bandidos and lots more.

Z: What were those early days gigs like? 

LLR: Some of those Voodoo Lounge nites were pretty wild. It was in a 3rd story room at the top of the building, pretty small, we crammed 'em in and some of those shows were pretty raucous affairs.

Z: I've always imagined that getting into DJing must be difficult due to the large amounts of music you have to own. Was this a challenge for you in the beginning? 

LLR: Well, I have always bought records since I was a kid. I got into Rock 'n' Roll through my parents records - Elvis, Cliff, Beatles, Stones and they used to take me and my brother to places where they had rock n roll bands playing. There was a WMC (working mens' club) round the corner from our house called the TUL Club. My dad would drop me and my brother off there on Sunday lunchtimes while he went downstairs to the lounge bar with his friends. So we were left in this room full of Teddyboys and the burgeoning Rockabillies/Cats and that's where our true education began. I was probably about 11 years old. Anyway, so to get back on point, I started buying records early and have kept doing so ever since. It was much harder in those days to get stuff, we had mail order lists listing cool sounding stuff ..taking chances on ordering things from Holland that could take a month to arrive back then. Of course we also had the contemporary bands. It's much easier for people these days, what with the internet. Now there are more DJ's than actual people going to the clubs. Don't get me started on laptop DJ's! But yes, real DJ's invest a lot of money in buying records. 

Z: Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

LLR: Pretty sure it was a 45 by The Jets, "Rockabilly Baby /James Dean" on Soho Records. I still have it. I also remember being at an all-dayer at DeMontfort Hall in Leicester, very young, without parental supervision hanging out with my older friends/mentors, I heard a song and was like "wow, whats this?" A guy I had only just met said, "You like it?" he then took me over to the record stall and bought it for me. It was a reissue on Ace Records of Sonny Fisher's "Pink & Black" with "Sneaky Pete" on the flipside. 

Z: Did you have that one gig that was your big break? If so tell us...

LLR: Not really, I didn't DJ that much when I lived in London. But when I moved to L.A. I started doing stuff on my own - Klub Bim Bam, which moved into the Fish Fry. Initially with bands and eventually moving to just a record hop. I knew Tom Ingram from back in England and he gave me a shot at VLV and I have been doing it for a few years now.

Z: What's the song for you that never seems to fail at packing the dance floor? 

LLR: There's so many! Well, "Cottonpickin'" by Mickey Hawks & the Nite Raiders is a killer Jiver. I like my stuff wild!

"I find you can't be too rigid, you have to 'do that voodoo you do...'"

Z: What songs seem to be the most requested? And I've heard some DJs tend to get upset if they get a lot of requests, how do you feel about them?

LLR: I can't place any particular song. Usually it's "Can you play some jivers/boppers/strollers. Usually if I have what they are asking for with me I will play it when I can fit it in with what I'm playing. However, DJ's are not Jukeboxes. Most have their own style and are booked on the basis of that's what they do. I once had a guy come up to me with his ipod who said "This is my favorite song, it's my birthday, can you plug this in and play it was some Neo Swing bollocks. Suffice to say he didn't get his birthday wish. 

Z: Do you plan sets for any of your shows? 

LLR: Not specific running orders. I spend a few hours going through my stuff, picking out things, the tunes in my boxes are always changing. Although of course there are always the mainstays. I find you can't be too rigid, you have to "do that voodoo you do," but you also have to read the room, get a feel of the atmos (sphere) and work with it.

"There is something very sacred about a vinyl 45."

Z: Do you have a preferred format, CD vs. vinyl, mixture of both?

LLR: I love vinyl, it's the best. There is something very sacred about a vinyl 45. However I will play cd's if I don't have/can't get or can't afford the vinyl. Laptops are a no-no for me though. I get the fact that you can carry squillions of tunes around in your backpack but most laptoppers don't own the vinyl and have never even seen the record. They just downloaded it. The soul and integrity are missing for me. They have not put the work in digging for these vinyl gems. That said, most people out there on the dancefloor couldn't care less what format the music is played on. They just care that it's good shit they can dance to. Still, approach me with a laptop and I will not be responsible for my actions - like spilling beer on it.

Z: Are there any particular challenges for being a DJ that most people probably don't realize?

LLR: Dealing with dumbass morons who have no clue about what you are doing, and without getting thrown in jail! Like the amoeba that comes up and asks if you can play Rhianna when all you have been playing all nite is Rockabilly, Surf and 50s R&B! 

Z: Who are some of your favorite DJs on the scene right now?

LLR: Little Carl from England is a splendid DJ, Tojo, Skinny Jim, Jon Clay, Rockin' Vic, DevilOne from LA is a great DJ...not a Rockabilly 'scene' guy but he has a great eclectic vibe. There's so many. 

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Z: Boppers, strollers or Jivers? Rockabilly or R&B? What's your preferred? 

LLR: I dig it all, my tastes are VERY eclectic. I do love my 40s and 50s R&B, and snarling nasty Rockabilly & Instros, Garage and Soul ..... 

Z: How has what people want to hear changed over the years, or has it? 

LLR: The tastes on "the scene" are constantly changing. Different things come into vogue. In the mid 80s in Europe you would hear lots of jivey stuff thats not really what I would call Rock n Roll - Dungaree Doll, 45 men in a telephone booth, Mais Ouis, lightweight 50s pop mid-tempo jivers. By the same token you could descend into a basement in London and hear somebody like DJ Ragin' Lee (where are you?) play mental depraved blues maulers and twisted rockabilly. You wanted to hear Sun Records Rockabilly you would go listen to Tom Ingram. So much more has been discovered since then and the tastes reflect that. One thing that I have noticed is that some of the classic big name artists fell out of favour in clubs over the years. I rarely heard Gene Vincent played in a club for instance. Gene Vincent in a club,...LOUD! Priceless!

Thanks again to DJ Lucky La Rocka for speaking with us. Stay tuned for for more updates in our Turntable Tuesday series.

-Zack Simpson
The Rockabilly Gentleman

Did you miss the first interview in our series with DJ Rockin' Vic? Read it here!

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