Mark Moore rang me yesterday with bad news. His dear friend – our own dear friend – Ian Loveday had died earlier that day, at St Mary’s Hospital in London, due to complications with a sudden bout of pneumonia. Ian leaves his partner, Jo Christophe, parents and a sister plus a family of friends and admirers built up and nurtured over the years spent in clubs and studios. While much of Ian’s music favoured a hard-edged, brooding nuance, perhaps influenced by his great love of all things sci-fi, in real life, Ian was quite different. Quiet and gracious, he was also an immensely kind man, an uncommon attribute in the more competitive realms of clubland. He loved and valued those around him.
As a DJ/musician and producer, Ian went under a host of aliases – Ian B, Ian Beta, Eon, Minimal Man, Rio Rhythm Band and most recently, Tan-Ru and 1integral amongst them – but for me and many others, when he wasn’t being Ian, he was simply Binty. I’m not sure where the nickname came from – I suspect it went deep into the years of friendship that he and Mark had shared, long before I came on the scene in 1988, just in time for the efflorescence of the British acid house scene of which both Ian and Mark were an integral part.
Unusually for one involved in techno, Ian had a level of practical technological knowledge that fed into his music. After a late 1970s/early 1980s stint playing disco at the Royalty in Southgate, he got a proper job in telecommunications: he fixed telephone lines and designed a car phone that was years before its time; he also made bugging devices. This material engagement with the mechanical meant that he was fond of tinkering: for months in the late 1980s, his kitchen floor was covered with pieces from a disembowelled washing machine that he was repairing. Musician Dan Donovan remembers Ian’s minute attention to detail: “After the move from analogue to digital production, Ian, like many others, switched to working in the box, that is through his Mac and its various devices. Unlike others, he would check, test and note every single preset [loaded into his machines].” It was laborious work, but typical of his level of industry.
But it was a trip, with Mark Moore, to see a Mantronix gig in the mid-1980s that got Ian back into club music. He began playing hiphop, rare groove, funk and go-go as a warm-up DJ at the Mudd Club and Heaven. When the early Chicago 12-inches from Phuture, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard and their ilk began to arrive in London in 1986, Mark and Ian were among the first DJs to realise their significance and revolutionary import. Their shopping trips to all the various independent records stores were always pleasurable outings.
Work peaked: Eon’s first releases on Vinyl Solution, Hooj Tunes and XL Recordings, where a track of Ian’s was their debut release, picked up fans in clubs and Kiss, then still a pirate radio station. Studio work was also rich: Ian recorded Light, Colour, Sound, an austere piece of 1988 brilliance with J Saul Kane (aka Depth Charge) and embarked on a long association with Peter Ford with whom the Minimal Man project was started. He continued working with Mark Moore, by now busy with his chart-topping S’Express. Ian was a fixture behind the decks of London’s major house clubs of 1988-89 – RIP at Clink Street, Danny and Jenni Rampling’s Shoom, Pyramid (at Heaven, with Mark Moore and Colin Faver) and at the Fridge in Brixton for Nicky Trax’s Planet Love, where Ian and Mark were the house DJs.
In addition to a welter of 12-inch releases and various collaborations, including – with Baby Ford –”Dead Eye”, the highly regarded debut for Ifach Records in 1994, Eon released two albums: Void Dweller (1992), which contained the influential tracks Spice and Basket Case, and, in 2003, Sum of Parts (on Long Haul Records). He was a favourite of John Peel and the influential Radio One DJ invited him to record numerous sessions for his radio show. The last 18 months of Ian’s life was spent working closely with Peter Ford. Ian’s remix of a 1998 Baby Ford track, “Make Your Own Sunshine”, on Ford’s Pal SL label, was his last recording.
Ian’s legacy to younger musicians lies in his music: he was inspirational in his breadth of vision and also with the precision with which he executed it. Dan Donovan cites him as “a British electro pioneer with his own distinct sound”. Peter Ford remembers Ian’s rare mixture of inspired ability and humility: “It was a beautiful combination: that someone could be so talented and gifted and also so modest. He was never negative.” Mark Moore praises Ian’s character as a “mad scientist, a surrealist and unique”. Ian was generous with his time and energies and he is already very much missed.