ECHO-Leigh: The show goes on for busy Bonsor...

From running nightclubs to making videos - JANE O'CONNELL finds out why life has never been happier for the multi-talented Keith Bonsor 

From the archive, first published Friday 10th Sep 1999.


Three years ago nightclub entrepreneur Keith Bonsor had a change. Of life.

He quit his job as manager of the lucrative Time disco in Basildon, moved house from Leigh, and got divorced. He even shaved off his trademark beard.

Today, the still clean-shaven Keith has never been happier. He has gone back to his creative roots - producing fly-on-the-wall type videos (he prefers to call them documentaries "like Lakesiders") shot at posh weddings, parties and other special events.

His latest one was for the Spice Girls' (????????????)tour manager.

He has also gone back to DJing, which, with the videos and the record spinning, has him booked solid for the whole of December.

The father-of-three is multi-talented. He's also a musician who played in bands, a writer both of music and books, a record producer and a trained lithographer.

Keith, 50, is just one of those people who can't keep still. He's done a sort of makeshift CV to remind himself of what he's done in his life but says: "I never had a CV before, never had to apply for a job."

You can see why he's always so busy. He is a showman - breezy, cheerful, and can-do: "I just love what I do. I like having fun and when I don't I move on."

Which accounts for the totally unexpected move from Time. Keith says the club was doing well, but he had become fed-up with the drudgery of day-to-day management. "It was suicidal financially, but I believe in leaving when you're on top."

He's has always worked on the fringes of fame; you sense he'd have relished a break into the big time.

Brought up on Canvey in a family fond of playing and singing round the piano, he went to Furtherwick Park school and left to go to the London College of Printing as a lithographer.

In the meantime, he was playing in bands and going to gigs. His first group was called the Essex Five. The Five supported big names such as Eric Clapton, Cream and even Jimi Hendrix, who once sat in the audience and watched the group play.

Keith opened a recording studio in Southend, carried on writing songs and started another band, the Cardboard Orchestra, which got a contract with CBS Records.

He started going to London to record and used to pay a young Andrew Lloyd Webber £20 a time as a song arranger.

Eventually he started another group called Zior with Peter Brewer, who now owns Honky Tonk Records in Southend. They were big in Germany.

Meanwhile, Keith was also working as an A&R manager for Shapiro Bernstein, a big American music publishers. His clients included David Croft, (who wrote comedies such as Hi-De-Hi).

Keith was involved in events at the Cliffs Pavilion which showcased new talent such as the young Alison Moyet. "I've erased all those old tapes. They would have made me a fortune," he says.

He also produced a band called the Pinkies from Basildon. They reached number eight in the charts in 1982 with a song called Danger Games.

The groups he produced had around 25 what he calls "reasonable" hits in Europe, but Keith wanted to get into TV. He hit upon the idea of writing a puppet show.

He tried to open TV studios in Camden, but failed to find the necessary finance. But working with puppets gained him his Equity card and he has the claim-to-fame of dressing up as a massive dragon and appearing on Jim'll Fix It.

He was asked to DJ and took to it like a duck to water, first at what was then Zhivago's in Southend, then at the Empire, Leicester Square.

The world was his stage - and he loved it.

Raquels was opened in 1983 and Keith was asked to front the club. They were good years. He started Time, a stone's throw away, in 1991.

Keith is in the throes of writing a book on the disco movement, but believes nightclubs have had their day. He says they lack showmanship.

"Go to clubs today and you're bombarded by deafening music you've never heard of before," he says, sounding suspiciously close to his age.

Keith now enjoys life in Danbury, and the company of girlfriend Liz. His divorce was amicable, and he regularly sees his children Marlon, 26, Andre, 23, and Emily, 19.

His 20,000 records are in the shed at the end of the garden. He writes and composes in the peace of the countryside but one feels it is the humdrum of television that he longs for...

In focus - Keith Bonsor has turned his back on the flashing lights of nightclubs and now specialises in capturing special events on video


Converted for the new archive on 19 November 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.

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KEITH BONSOR has been found!

Here is his email from July 22, 2010

8:48:38 PM


.....yes it is me.... amazing that there is interest in the band..really wild days eh....i have been
working on a new album with some old trax and some new concepts thrown in......i heard from john trubor last week after he tracked me down .. it was great to speak to him again......i still poses the zior stage masks .who knows what lies in store for the reincarnated band. cheers keith b