[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

A history of house music

Parents: history of dance music - history of electronic dance music - history of DJing

"You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew, or Gentile. It don't make a difference in our house." -- Mr Fingers, Can U Feel It?, 1986

Featured cd:

Mastercuts presents: Classic House (1994) - VA
[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Like it or not, house was first and foremost a direct descendant of disco. Disco had already been going for ten years when the first electronic drum tracks began to appear out of Chicago, and in that time it had already suffered the slings and arrows of merciless commercial exploitation, dilution and racial and sexual prejudice which culminated in the 'disco sucks' campaign. In one bizarrely extreme incident, people attending a baseball game in Chicago's Komishi Park were invited to bring all their unwanted disco records and after the game they were tossed onto a massive bonfire. Disco eventually collapsed under a heaving weight of crass disco versions of pop records and an ever-increasing volume of records that were simply no good. But the underground scene had already stepped off and was beginning to develop a new style that was deeper, rawer and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes and the early eighties proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon's 'Thanks To You', D-Train's 'You're The One For Me' and The Peech Boys' 'Don't Make Me Wait', a record that's been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesized sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.. --Phil Cheeseman, 1989 [...]

CD discography: The History Of The House Sound Of Chicago CD-Box (1989) - Various

Related: acid house - Chicago - classic house - dance - deep house - disco - discotheque - DJs - drum machine - ecstasy - electronic music - french house - garage - gay music - Balearic house - mix - new beat - New York music - music producers - proto-house - remix - sample - soul music - Detroit techno - twelve inch

Think of a classic house record and nine times out of ten you'll think of Trax, although you may not realise it. 'Move Your Body'? 'Baby Wants To Ride'? 'Washing Machine'? 'Can U Feel It'? All Trax releases. 'House Nation'? 'Acid Trax'? 'Your Love'? 'We Are Phuture'? 'U Used To Hold Me'? Yup, those too. What's more they introduced the world to producers who've become immortalised as some of house music's greatest innovators - Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles - and have provided an outlet for many more of Chicago's house artists over the years, such as Armando, Liddell Townsend, Robert Owens, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Mr Lee, Adonis, Fast Eddie, Ralphie Rosario, DJ Rush, Steve Poindexter, Terry Baldwin, DJ Skull... the list goes on. And they did it all by releasing crappy-looking records that sounded like they'd been pressed on sandpaper. Now there's a story worth telling. -- [...]

Nightclubs: Body and Soul - Hacienda - Music Box - Music Institute - Paradise Garage - Warehouse

Recordings (mostly precursors): 'Is It All Over My Face' - 'Don't Make Me Wait' - 'Weekend' - 'Together Forever' - Journey/Double Journey - 'You Don't Know' - Set It Off - 'Wax The Van' - My Loleatta

Kenny Dixon Jr., the most interesting of contemporary 'house' musicians

Recording artists: Blaze - Kerri Chandler - Joe Claussell - Carl Craig - Roy Davis Jr - Larry Heard - Marshall Jefferson - Jovonn - Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk - Hot Mix 5 - Terry Hunter - François Kevorkian - King Britt - Lil Louis - Masters at Work - Mateo & Matos - Maurizio - Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodymann Robert Owens - Phuture - Timmy Regisford - Romanthony - Jesse Saunders - Ten City - Todd Terry - Ron Trent - Armand Van Helden - Daniel Wang - more ...

Frankie Knuckles

New York native Frankie Knuckles was the Dj from 1977 to 1982 at the Warehouse. It is widely accepted that his style of DJing and his selection and the appeal of the Warehouse gave house music its name, although in the beginning, the word 'house' was used only in Chicago to denote something which was cool, hip, fresh or bad. Frankie Knuckles had been long time friends with Larry Levan, they had had their musical upbringing together from going to clubs like Loft and the Gallery

DJs: John Benitez - Danny Krivit - Ron Hardy - Tony Humphries - Frankie Knuckles - Larry Levan

Because it's now accepted as undeniable history that Carl, Kevin, Derrick and Juan Atkins somersaulted dance and electronic music beyond disco, electro, Kraftwerk, Eno, Kraut Rock, P-Funk, New Romantic and New Order into something new. At the time they called it techno. -- [...]

Labels: DJ International - Sleeping Bag records - Trax

On the origins of house music

Sleeve for BCM records 12 volume The history of the house sound of Chicago
sleeve notes to this comp here.

Chicago's greatest influence on electronic dance music is as the birthplace of house music. The name house music is said to come from the Chicago dance club, the Warehouse, where the legendary Frankie Knuckles DJed. The classic house record label Trax Records was based in Chicago, and put out seminal house records like Jamie Principle & Frankie Knuckles's "Your Love" and Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body". Other influential house artists to come out of Chicago include Adonis, Larry Heard, Ron Hardy, Phuture, Robert Owens, and Farley Jackmaster Funk.

Two tunes are arguably the first House music, each arriving in early 1984. The tune that was chronologically first was Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckles' "Your Love", a huge hit in the clubs, but only available on tape copies. The second, "On And On" by Jesse Saunders was later but on vinyl (Shapiro, 2000).

A tribute to Phil Cheeseman

Written by Phil Cheeseman for DJ magazine around 1989, The History of House was one of the first written explorations of house music that I encountered and it has been an invaluable document in writing this site.


House music refers to a collection of styles of electronic dance music, the earliest forms beginning in the early- to mid- 1980s. The common element of most house music is a 4/4 beat generated by a drum machine, together with a solid (usually also electronically generated) bassline. Upon this foundation are added electronically generated sounds and samples) of music such as jazz, blues and synth pop. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_music [Sept 2004]

Origins of the term house

Philly Disco + Japanese Music Machines=House Music (1978)
[...] Word spread about Knuckles' disco, soul and funk phenomenon and The Warehouse quickly became the place to be for a party-hungry gay crowd. This, it is commonly accepted, is where the term 'house' originates. Knuckles himself has denied 'inventing' house, so what we are talking about here is more a style of playing music based on the idea of a musical flow and transition - for all Walter Gibbons & co's remixes, no-one had yet made A House Record.

The relatively cheap availability of Japanese drum machines

The Roland TB-303 synthesizer/sequencer from 1982 and 1983 had a crucial role in the development of acid house when it became available on the second hand market in the mid 1980s.

Much has been written about Kraftwerk being the originators of house. While this is a nice idea, the truth is far more complex. Due to the relatively cheap availability of drum machines and synthesisers from Japanese companies like Roland (the feted 808 and 909 drum machines both originated in Japan) something was bound to happen anyway. -- John McCready

Chicago house music

House music's roots lie in the spontaneous combustion that was a handful of Chicago clubs in the early 1980s. In the days when clubs only needed one DJ, that DJ was in a position to make waves. And in a city where the clubs were usually soundtracked by jukeboxes, those waves could become a storm. Chicago was unique in the sense that they had control over their own pressing plants. -- [...]

House in New York

Todd Terry

And Todd Terry dispensed with a vocal narrative altogether on Royal House's "Can You Party," as he created a dance classic out of a delirious, near chaotic collage of electronic samples -- Greg Kot.

Right from the start there was a difference in approach between New York and Chicago. "All of the records coming out of New York had been either mid or down tempo, and the kids in Chicago wouldn't do that all night long, they needed more energy" commented Frankie Knuckles after his move to Chicago. The Windy City was seduced to a far greater extent by the European sound and when the records started to come, it showed. Whereas garage in New York evolved more smoothly from First Choice and the labels Salsoul, West End and Prelude ...

During the early '80s, both were noted DJs around New York, though Vega immersed himself in house and freestyle while Gonzalez entered the rap scene. (The separate interests came in handy later, as dance fan Vega concentrated on songwriting and groove-making while hip-hop head Gonzalez programmed beats and samples.) The pair were also working separately as producers, and Vega had already made a name for himself working on dozens of freestyle tracks and remixes by Nice & Smooth, Information Society and India. Gonzalez, working as a mobile DJ with a team calling themselves the Masters at Work, founded his own Dope Wax Records and worked on production for all of the major New York dance labels: Strictly Rhythm, Nervous, Cutting and Big Beat. In 1987, he loaned out the name Masters at Work to Todd Terry for the 1987 single "Alright Alright", then Terry returned the favor one year later by introducing him to Vega. -- [...]


Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999)
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) by Brewster and Broughton is the best book in its league when it comes to documenting dance music of the mid to late 20th century in Europe and the United States. Intelligently written, it features info on the Paradise Garage, Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles.

Modulations (2000) - Peter Shapiro
[FR] [DE] [UK]

This is a book on the history of electronic music, but music conoisseur Kodwo Eshun does the chapter on house music, and he does it very thoroughly. Includes interviews with Arthur Baker and Derrick May.

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications