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Voice 35 Years: Edition simply a thriller

RESPECT: The edition paid tribute to brave twin brothers, reported John Conteh’s fall from grace and looked at Justin Fashanu’s issues.

IN THE 13th issue of The Voice, the bravery of twin brothers who thwarted an attempted armed robbery of their store in Shepherds Bush, west London, featured on the front page. The headline was “Gunmen Flee as 67-Year-Old Twins
Strike Back!”.

The 67-year-old pair, Fenderson and Anderson Felix, confronted the two thugs wielding a shotgun, after they demanded the £13 in the till.

Recalling the incident, Anderson said: “I opened the drawer and one of the men held up a plastic bag and told me to put the money in it.

“I told him to get it himself. The other man held up a cartridge from the gun.”

After a struggle between the twins and the robbers the firearm went off, shattering the refrigerated counter, but causing the two men in their twenties to flee the incident. The front page also featured Gregory Isaacs, the Cool Ruler,
serenading during a sell-out audience at The Venue.

On page two of the newspaper, the issue of the London Metropolitan Police’s relationship with the black community was brought into focus, in an article with the headline “Row Over Racist Rookies”.

The news story was written a year after the Scarman Report was published, which delved into the factors which contributed to the Brixton riots in April 1981. The article reported on the furore between the Met and the Education Department of Brent, who were asked to provide a multi-cultural studies syllabus, for new recruits at the Hendon Police College. As part of the course, police officers had to write essays on their views of the black community.


The head of the multi-cultural unit, John Fernandes, said he was stunned by some of the views expressed. According to the lecturer some of the police officers wrote: “The blacks come over here and took money from the government.”

Others wrote: “Some blacks are respectable – the majority cause a lot of trouble”, and: “They should be at the bottom of the Council’s housing list and only be housed when all the whites have got houses.”

Fernandes resigned from his post at Hendon College in disgust.

On the same page the housing policies of the Greater London Council, Brent and Kensington and Chelsea councils were revealed as discriminatory. Following a Commission for Racial Equality investigation it was noted that the councils would not offer permanent housing to applicants on the waiting list or homeless families until they became permanent residents in the UK.

The Voice continues to highlight the inadequacies of councils like Kensington and Chelsea, following the Grenfell Tower blaze, which caused an estimated death toll of 80.

During the early issues of The Voice, the struggles and successes of the grow- ing number of black sports personalities was frequently featured. For example, on page three, the headline was ‘Conteh KO’d”. The article centred around John Conteh, the former world light-middleweight boxing champion, being cleared of deception, after fleeing a pub in London without paying the bill.

The judge said because the ex-boxer was drunk during the incident it couldn’t be proved if he intended to deceive when he ordered the bottle of champagne and steak sandwich, in Covent Garden. Conteh’s career ended in 1980. Shortly afterwards, he was admitted to a psychiatric clinic, to cure his addiction to drugs and alcohol.


The Voice newspaper continued to publish articles discussing the sensitive issue of how some sports personalities struggled with addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling. On the back page of that week’s issue, the lead article featured the wranglings of
Justin Fashanu with Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough. The headline was “Flash Fash?” The footballer was suspended on full pay and barred from training with the Nottingham Forest team. Gordon Taylor, secretary of the Professional Footballers Association said regarding the Fashanu issue: “No club can suspend a player unless he is in breach of contract.”

HISTORY: At the time of its release, The Voice gave Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album a favourable review.

On a lighter note, the number one soul album and single on Buzz was Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. The album not only became popular with readers of The Voice, but was eventually placed at number 233 on the Rolling Stone list of its 500
Greatest Songs of All Time.

On page 19 there was a story about another musical great, Michael Jackson, who was about to release Thriller, an album that would become the best-selling album of all time. The suggestion of the article was that either Jackson’s or Musical Youth’s album would be number one at Christmas.

The journalist liked the album, with its “heavy, funky, electronic innovations”. Millions of music lovers since 1982 have agreed with the reviewer’s thoughts. According to Jackson’s estate Thriller has sold 105 million copies.

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