DJ, producer, and member of Eric B. and Rakim, was born in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York. In his youth Barrier showed a musical aptitude, playing trumpet and guitar before devoting his energy to DJ-ing, a form which—by the mid-1970s—was a cornerstone of the burgeoning hip-hop movement arising in New York City's boroughs. Barrier's turntable talents eventually landed him a job as the mobile DJ for New York radio station WBLS while in high school. It was also during this period that Barrier met William Griffin Jr., a young MC who had adopted the name and stage persona of “Rakim Allah” in 1984 to signal his growing commitment to the Five Percent sect of the Nation of Islam a controversial but influential sect that promoted a broadly Afrocentric blend of political and spiritual advancement A prodigiously talented lyricist Rakim s complicated sophisticated rhymes found their perfect complement in ...
Charles L. Hughes
disc jockey, impresario, and businessman, was born Arthur Bernard Leaner in Jackson, Mississippi. An ambitious young man, Benson sang with the family band, performed in black vaudeville, and produced shows at Jackson's black theater, the Alamo. He also attended Jackson Normal College. In the 1920s he moved to Chicago but returned to Jackson to weather the Great Depression. As the pains of the Depression eased, Benson moved back to Chicago, where he worked as a probation officer, a railroad cook, an interviewer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and a preacher before making his name as one of Chicago's leading radio personalities. He lived in Chicago with his wife, Norma, and their daughters, Arleta and Bertina, until he retired in 1967.
Benson began his radio career as Reverend Arthur Leaner hosting a fifteen minute Sunday morning broadcast from his storefront church on Chicago s South Side When station ...
DJ and broadcasting executive, was born Frank Michael Crocker in Buffalo, New York, the only child of Mrs. Frances Crocker. There is some disagreement about his date of birth, which some sources have reported as 1940. Little is known about his early life; only that he began his career as a DJ while still a prelaw student at the University of Buffalo and also attended the University of Southern California. In the early 1960s Crocker was hired by WUFO, a local daytime AM station that served Buffalo's black community. During this time he developed his rich vocal delivery and created the smooth, confident persona that would attract listeners and give him the platform to ascend to larger markets such as New York City, where he established himself in the early 1960s at R&B station WWRL. In 1969 he became the first black DJ at all white AM ...
radio DJ and programmer. A central figure in the mainstreaming of African American culture on radio, Crocker appealed to both black and white audiences without compromising any of his cultural identity. Born in Buffalo, New York, he got his start in radio at WUFO when he was studying pre-law at the University of Buffalo. During the 1960s he was the most popular DJ on the soul and rhythm and blues station WWRL in New York City. In 1969 Crocker moved to the top 40 New York station WMCA, becoming the first black member of that station's popular “Good Guys.” In doing so Crocker broke new ground for African Americans in the number one radio market in the United States.
As music listeners migrated from AM to FM in the early 1970s so did Crocker moving to WBLS as DJ and program director There Crocker created the urban contemporary format ...
Pamela Lee Gray
television personality and disc jockey, was born in Covington, Tennessee, into a family of twelve children. His mother died during his birth and his father passed away when Holmes was five, so his older brother Clinton and his wife raised Holmes on the South Side of Chicago. Daylie attended John D. Shoop Elementary School. He was an excellent athlete at Morgan Park High School, and after graduation he played basketball in the professional Negro League for the Harlem Yankees and the Globetrotters. After a few years of touring with the teams, Daylie wanted to settle in one place. He joined the Beige Room staff tending bar at the Pershing Hotel in Chicago in the 1940s and quickly developed a loyal clientele that enjoyed the verbal patter he used while he worked.
Daylie became known as Daddy O while tending bar at various bars in Chicago He was well known for ...
Elizabeth D. Schafer
radio broadcaster, was born in Talladega County, Alabama, the son of Roy and Edna Garrett, tenant farmers. Although Garrett's father was illiterate, his mother could read and write and was concerned that her children be educated. By age five Garrett was literate and attended school with his siblings. He also helped his brothers and father farm the land they rented.
Not much is known about Garrett's childhood. By the 1940s he was living in Birmingham, Alabama, where he owned a dry cleaning business. Garrett also worked as a disc jockey at “soul” station WVOK and used his personal records and turntables. In 1957, motivated by the opportunity to secure a broadcast frequency and determined to establish a radio station, Garrett moved to Huntsville, Alabama. He was denied a building permit by the city government, however, and was arrested when he began construction without one.
Garrett protested the ...
Donna L. Halper
disc jockey, record executive, publisher, better known by his radio names—Jockey Jack and Jack the Rapper—was born in Chicago. His parents, Lillian Schwiech Gibson, a teacher, and Joseph Jack Gibson, a doctor, expected that he would attend college and perhaps follow in his father's footsteps, but the young Jack decided against a career in medicine. He found himself instead attracted to the performing arts, and after attending Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, in the early 1940s, he returned to Chicago to seek work on the radio. In the mid-1940s, radio dramas were still quite popular, and he became an actor in the first black soap opera, Here Comes Tomorrow, on station WJJD, beginning in 1947 Because he had studied drama in college he had a polished on air style that impressed a number of advertisers and led to more radio jobs ...
DJ and hip-hop pioneer, was born Theodore Livingston in New York City. He was the seventh of eight children born to a single mother, Mary Livingston and, except for his first three months (spent in Harlem Hospital with infant meningitis), lived his life in the Bronx.
Livingston was best known for introducing the DJ technique known as “scratching” into the art of hip-hop DJing (also called turntablism). His invention or discovery of scratching came in the summer of 1975 when he was twelve years old Already a professional DJ he was playing records in his bedroom when his mother demanded that he lower the volume Livingston had been preparing to tape a particular track and not wanting to lose his place kept his hand on the record However instead of holding it in one place he moved the disc back and forth underneath the needle The resulting scratching sound ...
Katrina D. Thompson
disc jockey, hip-hop innovator, musician, and producer, was born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica, the eldest of six-children of Keith Campbell, a community activist and head foreman at a wharf garage from Kingston, and Nettie Campbell, from Port Maria, a city on the northern coast of Jamaica. As a child Clive Campbell fell in love with the active dancehall reggae culture of Jamaica and would often follow the local disc jockeys to watch them set up their sound systems before performances. Political instability in Kingston led the Campbell family to move to the affluent city of Franklyn Town In search of financial and educational opportunities for her family Nettie Campbell migrated to the United States and worked as a dental technician while studying nursing in New York She frequently sent money to her family in Jamaica along with records of the new ...
Donna L. Halper
radio and video disc jockey, was born John Julian Jackson III (although some sources give his birth name as “John Jay Jackson”) in New York City, the son of John J. and Elma V. Jackson. Little is known of his family, but they apparently moved to Boston early in his life, as J.J. was raised in the Roxbury section of that city, and attended Boston public schools. He briefly joined the military, and then returned to Boston, and worked for a time in the fledgling computer industry. But he already knew that he really wanted to work in radio.
Jackson learned that Tufts University, where he was not a student, operated a radio station that permitted community volunteers to broadcast. His first on-air radio job, therefore, was at Tufts station WTUR, in nearby Medford in the late 1960s. While working there, he met Joe Rogers ...
Regina N. Barnett
hip-hop and DJ pioneer, was born Jason William Mizell, the youngest of Connie and Jessie Mizell's three children. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother Connie was a teacher and his father Jessie was a social worker. Moving to the Hollis neighborhood of Queens from Brooklyn in 1975, Mizell quickly became a respected and powerful force in that small neighborhood. While Mizell was a student at Andrew Jackson High School, teachers and students alike would ask him to stop altercations between students because of his dominating presence and amiable nature. Mizell dropped out of high school but eventually obtained his equivalency diploma. Drumming, playing the guitar, and socializing with friends took up most of Mizell's free time. Mizell credited a desire to be “part of the hottest thing” as one of the main reasons for becoming a DJ in an interview with DJ Times ...
DJ, producer, and recording and remix artist, was born Frank Warren Knuckles in South Bronx, New York City. Educated at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, Knuckles drew tremendous inspiration from the local gay underground music scene. In the early 1970s Knuckles and lifelong friend Larry Levan became regular faces at the Loft, an openly multiracial and bisexual club established by David Mancuso, who played a revelatory mix of soul, rock, African, Latin, and pop music. Mancuso and rival DJ Nicky Siano inspired Knuckles and Levan to start and in 1972 Knuckles took on his first regular gig, at Better Days. Between 1974 and 1976 he played nightly at the Continental Baths, an underground gay club, where he developed his own identity as a DJ, focusing on the slick disco productions of the Philadelphia International label. In March 1977 Knuckles at the opening ...
SaFiya D. Hoskins
disc jockey and music producer, was born Lawrence Philpot in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest child of Minnie Levan, a dressmaker. His parents were never married and little is known about his father. Levan's twin siblings Minnie and Isaac (born in 1936), were young adults when he joined the family in their Bedford-Stuyvesant home. His youth was spent with the care and attention generally given to an only child.
At age fifteen Levan was tailoring costumes for drag queen performers in New York, among whom was the Duchess, a popular and flamboyant drag queen. Together with his newly found best friend Frankie Knuckles (born Frank Warren, Jr.), whom he had met at a Harlem drag ball in 1969 Levan began to frequent the gay club scene including the trendy Planetarium and Loft venues It was at this time he chose to go by his mother s ...
DJ, recording artist, and producer, was born in Detroit to Eleanor May-Tankersley, a clerical worker, and Lawrence Todd, an entrepreneur and leathermaker. He was raised by his mother, and studied at Belleville High School. When his mother moved to Chicago during May's senior year, he remained in Belleville, living with his school friend Kevin Saunderson. Despite winning an athletic and football scholarship, May chose not to attend university. Another school friend, Juan Atkins—whom May later cited as the second most important influence on his life, behind his mother—convinced May to learn how to DJ and to produce electronic music. The futurologist Alvin Toffler, who argued that those who mastered technology would soon come to dominate society, had inspired Atkins. By 1981 he and May had formed a DJ collective called Deep Space Soundworks and were playing a combination of funk electro and ...
bandleader and composer, was born Lucius Venable Millinder in Anniston, Alabama. The identity and circumstances of his parents are unknown. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Wendell Phillips High School.
As Lucius Venable he began to work as a master of ceremonies and danced in nightclubs, including one run by Al Capone's brother Ralph in Cicero, Illinois. He became a bandleader in 1931, touring the RKO theater circuit. Early in 1932 he took over the little-known Doc Crawford band, and later that year he moved to New York.
Millinder appeared in the film short Scandals of 1933. In 1933 the promoter Irving Mills began grooming Millinder to take over the Mills Blue Rhythm Band by making him the frontman for the Congo Knights, a ten-piece band. Millinder and the band members worked locally and then played on the French Riviera from July to October ...
Tshombe L. Miles
was born in São Paulo on 14 June 1975. He began to appreciate music at a very young age and was influenced by his parents’ record collection. Early on, he had an appreciation for soul, funk, jazz, and popular Brazilian musicians such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Edu Lobo, Novos Baianos, and Os Mutantes.
He began his career using the name “DJ Marky Mark” (later changed to avoid confusion with the American actor and singer Mark Wahlberg), playing in nightclubs in the outskirts of São Paulo. His fame grew in the early 1990s when he was the house DJ at the Toco Dance Club. DJ Marky would become a pioneer of “drum and bass” music in Brazil. At this time he would begin to experiment with new records that he received at a record shop where he worked in central São Paulo (in addition to other stores). In 1997 ...
Donna L. Halper
was born Martha Jean Jones in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children of Virgil and Florence (Mabley) Jones. Martha Jean’s first career was nursing, but she also modeled and produced fashion shows. She married jazz trumpeter Luther Steinberg circa 1949 and they had three daughters, Diane, Sandra, and Trienere, but the marriage did not work out and the two eventually separated.
Around 1954 Martha Jean Steinberg entered a contest to be an announcer on the Memphis radio station WDIA Although owned by whites the station s format was aimed at the black community She didn t win the contest but the program director liked her voice and offered her a part time shift There are several versions of how she acquired her nickname The Queen Reporter Susan Whitall says it was t hanks to her 6 foot stature and regal demeanor p 39 But Louis Cantor a former WDIA ...
singer, disc jockey, comedian, and dancer, was born in Cayce, Mississippi, to Rufus Thomas Sr., a sharecropper, and his wife Rachel. At age two Thomas came to Memphis with his parents and four older siblings. He proved his talents as a performer early on, appearing as a frog in a school play at age six and as a tap dancer in theater productions at Booker T. Washington High School. In tenth grade, he performed in blackface at his first minstrel show, the Brown Brevities. After one semester at Tennessee A&I University, Thomas decided to become a professional entertainer. He participated in a number of traveling entertainment troupes in the 1930s, including the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, the Georgia Dixon Traveling Show, and the Royal American Tent Shows.
In November 1940 Thomas married his high-school sweetheart, Cornelius Lorene Wilson Their three children would become ...