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.

4 comments:

Manu said...

Francis Grasso has to be on my list, would love to have seen him play. A technical originator and he sounds like a lot of fun too:

http://www.djhistory.com/interviews/francis-grasso

Anonymous said...

https://www.facebook.com/DJTeeScott

Michael Wiseman said...

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with 3 of the DJ's you mention here and I'm "Spoiled rotten and to the bone" when it comes to music due to that. There was a time in the early 80's "Body Music, Heartbeat, Ain't no Mountain High" days when the lineup at Zanzibar on the beautiful Richard Long system was Larry Levan on Weds. night, Franccois K on Fridays and Tee Scott on Saturdays. Being a young understudy I was blessed to spend 100's of hours in the booth next to all 3 of them alway "with a high bias blank maxell" in my Sassoon jean pockets! at all times.. It was the best of the best.. What made it untouchable is that when you think about it, who can play a song better than the person that actually mixed or produced it. Also, add in the fact that we were hearing it before they were pressed which sometimes was a year or so before being released and you have a time and scene that will never be matched. Untouchable and never to be forgotten.. RIP Larry Levan, Tee Scott, and don't forget about our buddy Larry Paterson.. Francois K is the last of the NYC Pioneers we have and he has REPRESENTED IN FULL!!

Michael Wiseman said...

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with 3 of the DJ's you mention here and I'm "Spoiled rotten and to the bone" when it comes to music due to that. There was a time in the early 80's "Body Music, Heartbeat, Ain't no Mountain High" days when the lineup at Zanzibar on the beautiful Richard Long system was Larry Levan on Weds. night, Franccois K on Fridays and Tee Scott on Saturdays. Being a young understudy I was blessed to spend 100's of hours in the booth next to all 3 of them alway "with a high bias blank maxell" in my Sassoon jean pockets! at all times.. It was the best of the best.. What made it untouchable is that when you think about it, who can play a song better than the person that actually mixed or produced it. Also, add in the fact that we were hearing it before they were pressed which sometimes was a year or so before being released and you have a time and scene that will never be matched. Untouchable and never to be forgotten.. RIP Larry Levan, Tee Scott, and don't forget about our buddy Larry Paterson.. Francois K is the last of the NYC Pioneers we have and he has REPRESENTED IN FULL!!