Friday, 8 June 2012
Dead DJs (I wish I'd heard play)
1. Walter Gibbons – Walter (pictured above, looking like presenter off of Rainbow) was using hip hop skills before hip hop skills really existed but with disco records. He loved his drums and was known to work two copies of the same record stretching 20 second breaks out for minutes at a time - in the 1970s! Jellybean Benitez said “I thought I was the best DJ in the world until I heard Walter Gibbons play” and Francios Kervorkian put out a record based on one of Walter's live mixes. His 'Disco Madness' double remix LP is probably my favourite disco record of all time, in fact he re-wrote the rule book with his remixes and then re-wrote it again with stuff like Strafe 'Set It Off' and his Arthur Russell remixes in the mid-80s, not mention discovering the Joubert Singers 'Stand on the Word' on a tiny private press gospel 7 inch single. He would seem to be one of the most naturally gifted DJs to ever live, he's also the only dead DJ I’ve ever dreamt about and I would quite literally crawl over broken glass to have heard him play.
2. Tee Scott – Played to a tougher, rougher, blacker crowd than Levan at Better Days (pictured above), Tee apparently drove them wild with his tune selection and audacious mixing style. He gave Frankie Knuckles his break (and lent him records too), built his own mixer, pioneered the idea of using 3 turntables in clubs, and was dropping Gregorian monk chants and thunderstorms almost 20 years before you heard Junior did it at the at the Sound Factory. In all the interviews with him I've read, he is hugely humble about his talent and love not just for music, but for playing it shines through. Could have easily been number one on this list another day.
3. Ron Hardy – Smacked up at the Music Box, mixing up sped disco, Italo, new wave, crazy tape edits (huh-huh) and early house to the housest crowd in history. An obvious choice but a must for the time machine list. Fortunately, there are lots of Hardy mixes knocking about online, many of which have can be found in the wonderful Gridface Ron Hardy Mix Library.
4. Jim Burgess – The genius of Jim Burgess is outlined in more detail below. But he was one of the musically and technically most gifted disco DJs that ever lived, and the 6am sleaze king at Manhattan gay super club come space ship, The Saint. To have heard him live would have been magical.
5. Larry Levan – Totally iconic and everyone’s favourite dead DJ – but for a reason, he was brilliant. Not gifted technically as some of his contemporaries but is said to have controlled the room like no other at the Paradise Garage and let's face it, flash mixing isn't the be all and end all. He came over to London in the early 90s and being the utter div that i am, I missed him. There is a recording of a set he played in Japan shortly before died here though.