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Grandmaster Flash (1958 - )

Lifespan: 1958 -

Related: Doug Wimbish - New York music - hip hop - hip-hop - DJing - mixing

Rap is where you first heard it [sampling] -- Grandmaster Flash's 1981 "Wheels of Steel," which scratched together Queen, Blondie, the Sugarhill Gang, the Furious Five, Sequence, and Spoonie Gee --but what is sampling if not digitized scratching?


DJ Grandmaster Flash was one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing.

Born Joseph Saddler on January 1, 1958 in Barbados he grew up in the Bronx. He became involved in the earliest New York DJ scene, attending parties set up by early luminaries. Learning from Pete Jones and Kool Herc he used duplicate copies of a single record and two turntables but added a dextrous manual edit with a mixer to promote the break (a point of isolated drum rhythm) - the ordinary playing of the record would be interrupted to overlay the break, the break could be repeated by using the mixer to switch channels while the second record was spun back. The speed and dexterity needed showed why Saddler was called Flash, although he got the nickname in school due to the fact that he hung around with another guy named Gordon. He also invented the technique initially called cutting, which was developed by Grand Wizard Theodore into scratching (AMG).

He played illegal parties and also worked with rappers including Kurtis Blow and Lovebug Starski before forming his own group in the late 1970s after promptings from Ray Chandler. The initial members were Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover) and Kid(d) Creole (Nathaniel Glover) making Grandmaster Flash and the 3 MCs. Two other rappers briefly joined but they were replaced more permanently by Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams, previously in the Funky Four) and Scorpio (Eddie Morris, also used the name Mr. Ness) to create The Furious Five. They pioneered MCing, head-to-heads, and invented some of the staple phrases as well as skillful raps. They performed at Disco Fever in the Bronx from 1978.

Signed to Sugar Hill Records in 1980 by Joe Robinson Jr. They released numerous singles, gaining a gold disc for "Freedom", and also toured. The classic "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," released in 1981 was the best display of their skills, but it was their least successful single at the time. The group's most significant hit was "The Message" (1982), which went platinum in less than a month. Flash sued Sugar Hill in 1983 over the non-payment of royalties and in 1984 the group split between Flash and Mel before disintegrating entirely. Flash, Kid Creole and Rahiem signed to Elektra while the others continued as Melle Mel and the Furious Five. They reformed in 1987 for a charity concert, to release one album and then fall apart again. There was another reunion, of a kind, in 1994, although Cowboy had died in 1989 from the effects of his crack addiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJ_Grandmaster_Flash [Feb 2005]


  1. Essential Mix: Classic Edition - Grandmaster Flash [1 CD, Amazon US]
    1. I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz 2. I Found Lovin' - Fatback Band 3. Before I Let Go - Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly 4. We Got The Funk - Positive Force 5. Rapture - Blondie 6. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life - Indeep 7. Cavern - Liquid Liquid 8. I'll Do Anything For You - Denroy Mrogan 9. Bra - Cymande 10. Walking On Sunshine - Rockers Revenge 11. Rock Your World - Weeks & Co. 12. Love Is The Message - MFSB Featuring The Three Degrees 13. Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose - James Brown 14. It's Just Begun - Jimmy Castor Bunch 15. You're The One For Me - D Train 16. Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force

  2. Grandmaster Flash Presents Salsoul Jam 2000 [1 CD, Amazon US]
    1. Intro - Grandmaster Flash 2. Runaway - Salsoul Orchestra 3. Hit And Run - Loleatta Holloway 4. High - Skyy 5. Love Thang - First Choice 6. Spring Rain - Silvetti 7. Dr. Love - First Choice 8. Checkin You Out - Aurra 9. Make Up Your Mind - Aurra 10. I Got My Mind Made Up - Instant Funk 11. Just The Right Size - Salsoul Orchestra 12. My Love Is Free - Double Exposure 13. Ooh I Love It (Love Break) - Salsoul Orchestra 14. Let's Celebrate - Skyy 15. Call Me - Skyy 16. Slap Slap Lickety Lack - Instant Funk 17. Let No Man Put Asunder - First Choice 18. Love Sensation - Loleatta Holloway 19. Here'sTo You - Skyy 20. Ten Percent - Double Exposure [more ...]

  3. The Official Adventures of Grandmaster Flash - Grandmaster Flash [1CD, Amazon US]
    Strut Records hooked up with Grandmaster Flash and asked him to delve deep and faithfully re-create the original days, to play the tunes that actually were played. Flash has got rhythms you haven't even used yet. The result is a real piece of dance music history for anyone remotely into hip-hop. Flash takes us through different aspects of the block parties from the extended freestyle mixes to the tracks he used to play in their entirety. There are even some snippets of original block party tapes and some exclusive interview footage with Flash himself. The deluxe packaging features cover photography from Vincent MacDonald along with a 28-page booklet featuring original photos and memorabilia. A comprehensive Flash history courtesy of Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton is included.

  4. Message From Beat Street: Best Of Grandmaster Flash Flash [1CD, Amazon US]
    1. Step Off Megamix 2. Freedom - Grandmaster Flash 3. Birthday Party - Grandmaster Flash 4. Showdown 5. It's Nasty (Genius of Love) - Grandmaster Flash 6. Message - Grandmaster Flash 7. Scorpio - Grandmaster Flash 8. Message II (Survival) 9. New York New York - Grandmaster Flash 10. White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) - Grandmaster Flash 11. Beat Street

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