I wake up today to hear of the untimely passing of Everton Graham, best known by most nowadays as Blenda. My deepest condolences go out to all his friends and family.
Seeing as it was some 27+ years ago, the exact details of our first meeting are sketchy but I’ll share what I can muster at this daft time of the morning. I believe he was brought to my Sunday night residency at ‘The Marco’ by friends of his (or even possibly relatives) who were regulars. I can’t think who his closest friends were now but he was well known around his part of Birmingham (again, I can’t think where that was and for the sake of getting this down now I’ll say West Brom/Smethwick?)
A former Birmingham local, Everton had moved to London at some point earlier but in the mid-90s he returned, just at the time that the bumpy sound of UK House (94/95) was destroying Marco’s every week and would later explode as UKG. Skip forward past details I have no recollection of at all, Everton would eventually take to the mic regularly and ‘host’ the evening as ‘Daddy EV’ whilst I DJ’d. He’d also get to spin some tunes now and again but not nearly as regularly as he would have liked.
I distinctly remember that Everton was very vocal in the fact that “I should be giving him more exposure”, despite me bringing him into the rotation alongside the likes of Nigel Reece aka DJ Nar & Paul Bird, amongst others like Patrick Smoove & Rob Firm to name but a few. I’d also bring Everton onto my Choice FM radio shows but it still wasn’t enough for him and his desire to be getting the recognition he felt he deserved.
There was no denying, Everton had a great knowledge and love for his tunes and, despite me being very ahead of the game with my music back then, he always seemed to find those dirty ‘London’ cuts that were ever-so-slightly more underground than the soulful, vocal stuff I loved. Unfortunately, for us both, I have a memory that his attitude wasn’t exactly in line with mine and so our friendship and working relationship never progressed as much as it could have. I don’t really remember much about Everton past those Marco’s days and the legendary nights at ‘The System’ that Nigel Reece would go on to promote.
The next I heard about Everton was when I saw him DJing alongside undoubted legend, Jeremy Sylvester, for his Urban Dubz brand a few years ago. This time around he was known as Blenda and it’s very clear to see he had a great relationship with all of that crew and was putting out some great content on their channels. You can check out the Urban Dubz page here.
I don’t know the details about his passing and they really have no relevance to my story. I simply wanted to pay respects with a few words.
As fate would have it, I had recently reached out to both Jeremy Sylvester and Nigel Reece to ask them to join me on a live stream to talk about those early days of the UKG sound, before it was known as UKG; it goes without saying that Everton would have gotten/will be getting a mention as he was definitely part of our story, that can never be denied.
Again, my condolences go out to all his close friends and fans of his music.
Links to check out Daddy EV/Blenda.
Here is a blog post I wrote 11 years ago about those legendary Marco nights, mentioning Everton (click here).
This is one of my favourite live recordings ever (Click here if it doesn’t show below).