Back in 1993 I had my “big break” in radio when I was asked to host a remix show on our local Top 40 radio station. I had been hanging around the studios for a couple of months, had secured my FCC license (which you needed to be on the radio in those days) and was ready to show the world what radio personality J.P. Marks was all about. The regular remix DJ, a very nice guy by the name of Ron The Sugarbear, was taking the weekend off and I was asked to fill in. The Program Director was nervous as all get out and laid out a game plan for me to follow for three of the five hours I was to be on the air, the other two hours I was allowed to do my own thing. One thing I distinctly remember is that after a few mixes I did my first talk break in which my mother called immediately afterwards in tears because she was so excited to hear me on the air.
Saturday Night Dance Tracks was skewed towards the mainstream dance music of the time (remember it was the early 1990s) and the emerging hip hop scene. One of the highest rated time slots on the station (which was consistently in the top three in the market), I was determined to fill some pretty big shoes for my debut while keeping my own spin to make my trademark.
I decided to play a record I had picked up a couple of months prior. It wasn’t on any of the industry dance charts at the time and was only being heard in gay clubs in major cities, it was however very successful when I played it during my gigs. I was absolutely certain that this record would be a HUGE hit if the general public had the chance to hear it, even though it was a remake of a HUGE hit from the 1980s. The song was released by an unknown artist on a small indy label from the UK.
When I spun into this record and the first verse started, the phone board started lighting up. As we progressed into the chorus of the very familiar tune, the board reached capacity. “Who is this?” “Where did you get this?” “Oh my God, I love this!” All the callers were loving the record. The hotline (a special line into the studio that station personnel have access to) called, it was the music director. “Great track, who is it?”
Grinning from ear to ear, I replied with, “It’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart'”. The music director thanked me for the obvious. I filled in the blanks with “she’s Nicki French and it’s on a small indy label called ‘Energise Records’ or something like that”. He replied with “can I borrow it?” “Absolutely.” Success. J.P. Marks had made his mark.
Nicki French’s version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” hit U.S. mainstream radio about a year later. I had the opportunity to meet Nicki a couple of times: the first time was backstage at a Kix 106 concert in Providence, Rhode Island and the second time at John Garabedian’s house during his syndicated “Open House Party” show. Ms. French is clearly the NICEST artist and one of the NICEST people I have ever met.
For your enjoyment, here’s her video for the U.S. radio mix of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.