Tributes for DJ once sacked for refusing to play the Birdie Song at a Northampton club

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A pioneering DJ from the 1980s who was sacked from a Northampton club for refusing to play the Birdie Song has died.

Kings Heath-born Mark Mackness, aged 59, was credited with being the first to introduce black soul and funk music to the clubs in and around Northampton.

He spent hours seeking out new sounds that attracted crowds from Luton, Milton Keynes and beyond.

Step sister Joanne Parkes said: “His popularity grew to such an extent that Mark was headhunted by the largest club in town – Cinderella’s in Weedon Road –

which had never employed a local DJ yet Mark was brought in, guaranteed to fill the dance floor.

“In fact when he was sacked for refusing to play the likes of the ‘Birdie Song’ a petition was set up and fans boycotted the club until he was reinstated.”

As a teenager Mark was a talented sportsman and had trials for Arsenal and Liverpool as well as being the 200m sprinter for the Northampton County Athletics Team.

Unfortunately a knee injury put paid to his athletic pursuits.

He was a classic car fanatic and over the years drove an Alvis, an XK120 and many Jaguars all of which complemented his taste in smart suits.

Always keen to make a staement, in 1986 when the fashion for longer hair had finally run its course, Mark had his own locks cut off by local hairdresser Raymond Martin in a hot air balloon as part of the Balloon Festival at the Racecourse to raise money for the Heart Foundation.

He was regularly invited to play many benefit gigs, raising thousands of pounds for local and international charities including the Hope Centre, Aiden Cox – a local boy with cerebral palsy – Nyota Star for under-privileged children in Tanzania and a schools project in the Gambia.

Joanne said: “In fact Mark had a heart for helping others – he was always there to give a lift to anyone who needed it and with his passion for music and playing just the right ‘tune’.”

Mark was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and passed away last week in the Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

His funeral will be held at All Saints’ Church in Northampton on Monday, August 24 at 1.30pm. He leaves a wife and three adored children.