Remembering Alan Jensen (‘Big Al’ And The ‘DJ’).
In the early 1970’s a local businessman-Johnny Hodgson, owned a record shop in the Old Town of Hastings entitled ‘The Disc Jockey’. The shop was doing very well but Hodgson had other business interests (like the promotion of bands on Hastings Pier) and these were beginning to take up more and more of his time. Johnny decided to put an advert in the local paper for someone to help him run the shop. Alan Jensen (at this point working for Courts) applied for and got the job. Hodgson and his wife (who ran a hairdressers shop in the Old Town) were well known locally and Johnny had political ambitions. In 1972 those political ambitions became a reality when Johnny was duly elected as a Hastings Councillor. Seeing his chance, Alan Jensen offered to buy Johnny out of the shop. His offer was accepted and the pair went their separate ways.
A larger than life character and a born showman, Alan soon managed to make a success of ‘The DJ’ (as it became more commonly known) and swiftly set about moving premises to a more central position in Hastings at the bottom of Queens Rd. For a short time, the shop was renamed ‘The Disc Jockey +1’ but Jensen had another way in mind about how to stamp his personality upon the shop… the invention of ‘Big Al’ – a caricature ‘mascot’ of Jensen himself (the medallion around the ‘creatures’ neck featured the words ‘I Like Big Al’).
‘Big Al’ was a massive success and gave the shop a unique (and very memorable) image. ‘Big Al’ appeared in all the shops newspaper advertisements and on all of the shops printed bags. With his beautiful and glamorous wife Sue at his side, Alan swiftly established ‘The DJ’ as the most popular and trendy place to buy your records in Hastings. A chart of the DJ’s best selling singles and albums appeared weekly in The Hastings Observer and regular ‘competitions and give-aways’ ensured that another smiling picture of Alan (along with the latest winner/s) was frequently in print. In short, Alan Jensen was not just a flamboyant and confident character he was a fine businessman.
Then of course there was the shop’s staff. As conclusively proven by his wife Sue, Alan was definitely a man with an eye for the ladies and invariably the shop would have a bevy of beauties behind the counter. While in today’s day and age such a practice might be frowned upon, (like the similar period practice of offering ladies free entry to nightclubs) it certainly ensured that the DJ was frequented by most of the young male record buyers in the town… including me!
It is worth mentioning here also that in the 70’s and 80’s competition to The DJ was fierce and there was at least 8-10 places (not including second hand outlets) in Hastings town centre alone where you could buy records, tapes (and latterly cd’s)..