The mystery of DJ Derek

By October 22, 2015


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A familiar name amongst the Bristol music scene, DJ Derek, who used to be an accountant, is one of Bristol’s finest and most-loved DJ’s. Dubbed the UK’s oldest DJ, 74-year-old Derek has played the likes of Glastonbury and The Big Chill, but his true roots remain in Bristol, his home city, playing for many local events. Playing an eclectic mix of dancehall and reggae coupled with his unexpected Jamaican accent makes him a memorable man with bags of character, and certainly a respectable figure with a genuine reputation in Bristol.

After three weeks passed without any sight of DJ Derek, his family became increasingly concerned for his welfare and bought his disappearance to the public’s attention. Posters began being stuck up in every shop window around the St. Pauls and Gloucester Road area in Bristol and beyond when he hadn’t been seen since leaving the Criterion Pub in Ashley Road near his St. Pauls home late in the evening on July 11th.

Since his disappearance, his bank accounts have not been touched and his home remains unscathed. There have been numerous search exertions in Bristol, and claimed sightings in Yate and Thornbury.

A glimmer of hope arose when it was confirmed Derek had used his bus pass to board a bus en-route to Thornbury on July 11th, the same day of his disappearance. Search efforts continued to Thornbury, with the police and Derek’s family looking for any signs on his whereabouts, focussing on wooded areas and bus routes.

As Derek’s Arcadia set was luring closer and closer in early September, relatives were being open-minded about his possible return for his passion to play music to a big crowd. However, Arcadia came and went and Derek did not return. After no clue of his whereabouts, Derek’s disappearance has gone cold.

Nearly a month after his expected set at Arcadia, a new clue in Derek’s disappearance has been uncovered in another, more thorough search of his St. Pauls home. Derek’s niece discovered a map with hand-drawn markings on the location of Dursley in Gloucestershire, in which he scribed an ‘H’ on one of the roads there.  His family are now drawing the conclusion he might have boarded a bus to Dursley straight after he had previously made his trip to Thornbury.

DJ Derek’s family are appealing to the people of Dursley for any possible sightings or clues about his disappearance. He was last seen wearing a brown jacket with his trademark waistcoat, and a black shirt. Last New Year, Derek announced he would be retiring from the music scene after a successful stint playing to crowds in Bristol and beyond.

In an interview with Derek from January this year, he was asked whether he would ever make a potential comeback, to which he responded: “I made it pretty clear when I said I was retiring that’s it, because I didn’t wanna get bombarded with phone calls by people asking me “can you just come up…”.

There is a theory in Bristol that Derek had become tired of all the attention. Maybe his disappearance is a way of saying “leave me alone for a while”. Let’s hope so. After nearly 3 months, the search for DJ Derek is still on going.