Danny Krivit rolled through disco

It’s hard to believe Danny Krivit has been DJing for five decades. He was around for the early flowerings of disco in the early ’70s. So what’s the secret to his youthful appearance? Well, Danny started DJing at the age of nine! His mum was a white vocalist on the black New Jersey club circuit; his dad, a jazz musician who managed Chet Baker. By his teens Danny was programming music on reel-to-reel for his father’s Greenwich Village club, The Ninth Circle, which was the start of him playing many of the landmark clubs of the disco era. He was resident at The Roxy, the massive west-side rollerskating venue, for four years from 1979, as it became the wild epicentre of hip hop (Quick to embrace a few scratching techniques, they called him Danny Rock). Danny was particularly close to Larry Levan and the family of DJs and music-lovers that coalesced at The Paradise Garage, and would often skate over to King Street after the Roxy and hang there, playing records. In 1996 he teamed up with Joe Clausell and another old friend, François Kevorkian, to create Body & Soul, a club that kept the flame alive for the Garage heads. More recently, his own 718 sessions have given him a residency that still delivers some of the best nights in New York. Through it all, as Mr K, he’s a creator of legendary edits, creating cuts of songs that have become the classic version. Check his great website where he posts new ones all the time.

Interviewed in New York, 06 10 98, by Bill

Where were you born, where did you grow up?
I was born in 1957 in New Jersey, we moved to Manhattan when I was four or five. Pretty much stayed in the Village my whole life. In fact, until I moved over here (E14 Street) I’d only moved about four blocks in thirty years. My step-father owned a place called the Ninth Circle, which he started in ’62. In the Sixties, it was one of the main Village spots. When I was growing up I was really around there a lot. There were a lot of rock’n’roll people there, music people. When I was seven I was already doing brunches and working as a waiter, and I served Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon. In the Village it just wasn’t that odd, I suppose. And they had a very happening jukebox. So without even knowing it, before I was even into music, I was around it. My mother was a jazz singer, my father was into jazz, an older sister into pop.

Did your mother perform?
She performed on the black circuit in New Jersey. I remember we went to Puerto Rico when I was a kid and Dionne Warwick was really happening then. She had seen her there and she said lemme introduce you to her because my mom had worked with her. And Dionne Warwick remembered her because she was a white girl doing this thing and she just stuck out. But she never really made it.

The Ninth Circle was kind of dying out by about 1970 or so and a friend of his owned the Stonewall and when that closed he said to my father I know you’ve had this great thing for years but you know the Village has really turned gay. If you just turn your place gay, all your troubles will be over and you’ll be a success overnight. And literally that’s what he did. The Ninth Circle went gay about 1971. He turned the restaurant downstairs into a disco and I started programming [reel-to-reel] tapes for him. He also got tapes from clubs like Le Jardin, Le Hippopotamus, happening places. I got in the door like that. Then he opened up a place called Ones. If you’re down near Vinyl on Hudson, there’s a Korean fruit store down there. That’s the location of Ones. I started working in 1974. It opened in ’75.

A proper nightclub?
Well, back then… It had food, it had dancing. But Ninth Circle was definitely a disco downstairs. Although there were no turntables ever there (at Ninth Circle). At Ones it started out the same thing with tapes but then it progressed to a DJ booth with decks. We didn’t have a Bozak, we had something cheaper. Probably AST, they’d just started outfitting everyone downtown.

I remember even the tapes I was making were segued. Basically, when he played these other tapes from the clubs, they were segued. I was like I can’t do the radio mix thing. I didn’t understand at first but I was going around checking things out. At that time, I was probably a little more into drugs than the music, so I’d be going to clubs to get drugs and things and I’d be standing outside waiting for somebody and I’d be hearing… They had a Limelight on Sheridan Square, and David Rodriguez used to play there. I didn’t know him at the time, but I’d be standing outside waiting for someone. And the music I’d be hearing was not the regular stuff. He’d play some really rough old stuff. But he was mixing, I was really paying attention to that. I knew what was expected of me.

Were you actually going into any of the clubs?
Back then I wasn’t really going into the Limelight. I was looking old for my age, so I could get in, but I was a little more into concerts than clubs. Especially the Fillmore East. As far as clubs go: I went to the Hippopotamus, Le Jardin, the Dom: below the Electric Circus. I ended up buying their speakers when they closed. They had these beautiful Altec Lansing cabinets; really nice wooden cabinets. I nearly killed my mother with these speakers. I showed no mercy. I remember when ‘Doctor Love’ [by First Choice] came out and I played it to death. A few weeks later, I met my neighbours in the elevator and they said, ‘You know, we never really say anything. You play music loud, but we like music. But this song: ‘Doctor Love’. We can’t get it out of our heads. You’re really doing a number on us with this song.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ Six months later, my music’s off and I’m hearing ‘Doctor Love’ It burned into their heads so much they had to buy it. I remember going to the Loft.

What are your memories of the Loft?
Well, I never went to his first one, I went to 99 Prince Street. I just remember it was unique. Before that, my idea of a club was more dressy, the Saturday night out feeling. The Loft was the opposite of that: it was a professional house party. These were eccentric club people who were really into dancing. They knew music, not just the top ten hit parade, but they knew music they never heard before. That impressed me. The type of music that was being played it just had a lot more substance to it. At first, I remember congregating with a few people. There would be a regular crowd that I’d meet with: François was one of them, Steve D’Acquisto, this girl Freddie Taylor from Pearl Distributors. And we’d just be hanging out critiquing the music; bringing David some new records. David was very friendly with me and when he had the record pool, I tried to get in it when I was DJing at Ones. It had just opened and I wasn’t actually spinning there. So he said, ‘I can’t really do anything for you there.’ But he hooked me up with some of the record companies. By the time I was ready to come back to him, he was shutting his doors and I was one of the first members of For The Record [Judy Weinstein’s record pool].

What records do you readily associate with the Loft?
I remember things like ‘City Country City’ [by War]. If I heard it somewhere else it was not a big record. Here it was a record that people went crazy to from the beginning to the end. When the disco stuff started to come in heavy, he had like USA European Connection. It was extremely different. Especially as David had it on reel-to-reel, it sounded better than when it came out on vinyl. I remember in general hearing the depth of the production in stereo. It was that true feeling of, ‘I’m not on drugs, but I feel like I’m tripping on music. The music is really taking me somewhere.’ These people are just dancing. All night. Seriously.

How did the Gallery differ?
It struck me as quite a bit more gay. Definitely less about the hi-fidelity sound, more pumping. More mixing. More to do with the lights.

And Nicky Siano as a DJ?
Certainly more about drama. He would be like: I’m in the DJ booth. This couldn’t be a tape. This couldn’t be a just a record you like. I’m playing this record. He had a presence. He also was very much about drugs himself, there was a whole thing about him, especially towards the end; high, but not too high, to play the music. But there’d always be a point where it seemed like he’d collapse in a very dramatic manner: fall on the turntables and stop the music. Everyone knew what was going on, and they’d be patient and know that somehow, somebody would help him get it together and an even better record would come on. And usually it did. Certainly, both David and him, this was very different to the other clubs I’d been to. Very vibey. He’s picking a record that’s not just a hit record, but he’s picking a record that’s timely for these particular people; and he’s also talking a message, certainly creating a vibe. There’s a story being woven. With Nicky it was a vocal story. With David it was a mood story. David in general was always about love and he’d always try to stay with that. But there were a lot of instrumentals; more percussive, Latinesque things.

How did your DJing progress from there?
After Ones I opened up an after-hours with this ex-boxer. And I started working at Trudi Heller’s. It was along the lines of Copacabana, Régines. 25-30-year-olds’ club. Kind of a clip joint. But it was on Sixth Avenue right by 9th Street. All my life I’d lived on 12th Street and Sixth Avenue, even though I passed by, I never went in it. They had a Richard Long mixer. A decent set-up. It was a funky little club. Straight mainly black. Trudi Heller took it over and it went wrong. Even then I was making a bit of a mark; getting my charts out there. Then I got a job as the opening DJ at Roxy. And I played at a place called Lacey’s in Long Island from 1981 to 1991. I managed to turn some little nights into big nights. That’s how I got the job at Lacey’s. There was something about having the booth elevated and right in the middle, like they had at Lacey’s. There was something infectious about having all the people surrounding you in a circle and you in the middle. It’s not like being on the edge of the floor. The energy is focused at you. It was a rush.

And how did you get to know the Paradise Garage crew?
I was friendly with Larry Levan through the Loft. Mel Cheren [Garage co-owner] had told me he was going to open this club; and he described what he wanted. I went there; but it hadn’t really started yet. The main room was just an off-room but it was very pumping and Larry was kicking. It expanded very quickly. I was very close with Larry and I’d come there in the daytime, because he also lived there.

What, he actually lived in the club?
Yeah, before [the other Garage co-owner] Michael Brody couldn’t deal with him any longer and bought him an apartment. He used to pay for his apartment just to keep him out of there because he was causing too many problems.

(L-R) Danny with David DePino, Judy Weinstein, Larry Levan, Jeffrey Osbourne, John Brown

Was this around the time of the construction parties?
Well, he was living there during the construction parties. Basically, you go up a ramp and the first room you come into was a kinda small room that they used as the disco. What ended up being the main room, right next to that, they used as a lounge. The construction parties were this: just a killer sound system and nothing much else. But then there was another room after that which was a pretty good size and these were the offices and Larry’s apartment. Soon after, that began to be an extra room and he got Larry out of there; gave him an apartment.

But while he was living there, I used to come down in the daytime and roller-skate and play him some records from the pool. And he used to come to Roxy and skate. He told me he used to be a skate guard at Empire Roller-rink. But he was a little crazy. I remember playing ‘Girl You Need A Change Of Mind’ [Eddie Kendricks] once and he got so excited, got up, then I couldn’t see him skating. Next time I saw him his arm was in a sling. He didn’t skate much after that. He knew he couldn’t control himself. I would hang out with him a lot. I’m a passive person and he would, you know, want me in the studio with him when he was mixing. I was in the studio with him when he did ‘Bad For Me’ [Dee Dee Bridgewater], ‘Give Your Body Up To The Music’ [Billy Nichols], ‘Work That Body’ [Taana Gardner], a few others. So he wanted me to get a handle on this and get involved. His sessions were so stretched out that I was just hanging, not learning.

In what way?
He was a record company’s nightmare. Basically, he’d show up really late and while he was there it was about socialising and drugs. And eventually he would get to the mix, but he would be distracted very easily. And the mix, instead of taking a day or whatever, it would go on for weeks. This budget would be a $27,000 budget, stretched to that. I remember the Gwen Guthrie project wasn’t really even supposed to happen. He was supposed to mix a song and he ended up doing all these mixes.

Did her Padlock EP…
Well, basically, he did ‘Should’ve Been You’. That’s what he was supposed to do. He did this whole thing. I think he was in there so long that he was actually working on this stuff. It was probably one of the more productive sessions he had. But when he showed it to them, they were so pissed off at the price and how long ‘Should’ve Been You’ took that they just shelved it. For a year or two he was just playing it at the Garage and kicking it.

Had he finished the other Guthrie mixes? And was he playing them?
He’d finished them but they were rough. He was playing them and unlike a lot of other things where he mixed it seven or eight times, he did these and they worked out good rough. He kept them like that. Lots of his things, like ‘Work That Body’, the one that came out was his seventh mix. He mixed it over and over again and fine-tuned it.

What was he changing?
Really a lot of things. He’d say: ‘This is sloppy’, ‘I don’t like the sound of this bass’, ‘I played it in the club and we need to compress it a little more.’

So he’d be floor-testing at the club?
Sometimes that, other times just in the studio non-stop over-producing. So I would be invited in on some of this stuff. Some of it I was getting a little feel for it, but for the most part it was so stretched out I didn’t have patience. In general, he wanted me to get involved but the thing was I was DJing for a living. Working at Roxy and other places. I always had a weekend job. When it came to the Garage, I always came there after work and after a few years there, there were times when he couldn’t be there because of the studio and he’d have to have somebody fill in a little bit. ‘Danny if you could be here a little more often, get this feeling, I could stick you in here a little bit.’ I wanted that. But I couldn’t hang out non-stop. So I’d come at my usual time.

A couple of times he was like, ‘Why don’t you put on couple of records and we’ll have a dance’. Another time there was a pool party for For The Record and I played, Jellybean, Jonathan Fearing, Larry ended the night. I remember I was the last one before Larry. The club was just packing as I played. So I had a really good set and it was the first time I played ‘I Want To Thank You’ [by Alicia Myers]. And I kept telling Larry about this song. He came over to me and said, ‘What’s this you’re playing?’. I said it’s that song I been telling you about. He started playing it after that. Sure enough, Frankie Crocker heard Larry play it. It had already been a big hit on the roller skating for a while.

Anyway, I had a really good set, but I was a little in awe of the sound system: I didn’t want to fuck with the sound system too much. He was working the system while I was doing my mixes; really tweaking it and beefing it up. When I came on he had a switch underneath that he flicked which basically took the limiter off and he said: ‘Only for you’. So I felt really privileged. He really supported me. I was working a lot, so when push comes to shove, he really needed somebody and David DePino was close with him, right there and out of work. He was opening for Larry a lot, a few other people too. Victor Rosado, Joey Llanos.

Danny has an entire apartment where his records live.

How did you first meet Larry?
I came to the Loft to see David. But David was knocked out. His DJ booth was kind of on the second floor looking down; he had a bed right next to it. So I came up and thought Mmm, this is isn’t David, David has long hair and he’s white. Larry wasn’t rude, but he wasn’t especially friendly the first time. He was just, you know. Next time I had a few records – I don’t think he played them or whatever – I think he liked the idea that I didn’t just bring them for David. Then I would run into Larry at the record pool.

What was he like as a person?
He was bit eccentric. He was really like a little kid. Very energetic. When Star Wars came out he was like, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta go see the opening. This whole thing about lights; anything special and big like that, he loved. Big bright things. Disneyland. Even Studio 54, as a club. He liked that sort of thing.

Did he go to Studio 54?
Oh yeah, I think he played there a couple of times. Richie Kaczor was a sweetheart and we all knew him from Hollywood. And Hollywood wasn’t as commercial; it was a little more edgy and more underground. So he had a lot of respect from all the underground DJs. When he did Studio 54, instead of thinking of him as, ‘Oh, you’re just playing that commercial stuff,’ we thought of him as someone who does his own thing, but is playing the commercial stuff at Studio. Also, the whole time I knew Richie he was so down to earth. There were so many egos going on then. Even the guys that were nice would still be a little like that. But Richie was never that way. Larry was very friendly with Richie and used to go there and Richie would come to the Garage. The Garage had a very social DJ booth. It was huge. Like another club in itself. There was a real scene going on there. And for a long time, I’d find myself in the booth, that was a club experience. You were right above the dancefloor and you’d get the whole feeling of the crowd. The light show, everything.

What kind of drugs were people doing at the Garage?
Well, I was kind of out of my drugs stage by then. I was just a pot-head. I would notice a lot of coke, some heroin, tripping. More of the kids would be into tripping, but there’d be dust, too. It seemed like because I wasn’t into it, I didn’t latch on to it so much. There was a lot of drugs there.

Do you think that Larry’s drug taking eventually had a detrimental effect on his music?
I look at this way. He was definitely into drugs, but as opposed to the drugs having a handle on him, it definitely seemed like it wasn’t running his life. Towards the end, say the last year or two, it was probably clear to him, it had been said in so many words, that’s it, the Garage is closing this time, and even then, everyone else was very hopeful that there’d be another spot. You have this party and the party’s going to go somewhere and when it does, you’re going to be it, so don’t even worry about it.

But I think at that point the drugs seemed to be more obvious. He was there less. When he came in, it would be less about putting the record on, there would be a long rainstorm first. Rain effects. He would still turn it out. But he was there less. A lot less mixing, just about playing the right record and working the sound. Adjustments, like he was in a studio. Not just feeling it, but going out on the floor and checking it. Some nights he would keep the club from opening an hour or two because he wanted to rewire the whole system. He’d always have things for Michael Brody, the owner to buy, new toys. He really had put a lot into it. Towards the end there, David was playing the most, especially the last year. A lot of people who went to the Garage really just went that year [1987]. And when they remember the Garage, it was really the staples of songs that made up ‘Garage Music’.

How would you describe that?
My feeling going the whole way through was that Garage music was kind of breaking the rules. It was what he felt like playing. He’d turn you on to something. It was really about having no boundaries. A lot of rules were broken there. When [Taana Gardner’s] ‘Heartbeat’ came out there wasn’t hip hop on the radio like there is today. There wasn’t any downtempo music like ‘Heartbeat’. And when he put that record, a full club of people left the room to get food. There was not one person left on the floor. He played the record from beginning to end and they stayed off from beginning to end. And you’d hear people talking, ‘What the hell is this? It’s painful.’ Sure enough, next week he played it and a few people stayed on the floor. The week after, the floor’s not happening, but there’s a decent amount of people there. The week after that, now there are actually people running to the floor when they hear it. By the end of the month, there was no-one left off the floor when they played that record.

And now, of course, they had to go to Vinylmania and bug Charlie for that record. He would break rules. He would play things and you thought, ‘Oooh, this is a commercial record.’ Pat Benatar ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ Someone said he could never play that there. That was reason enough for him to play it; and make it happen, too. Those things stuck out a lot more than the so called staples that you associate with Garage music.

That’s Garage music, sure, but it’s the other things that make more of an impression on you. He would take a chance. He would play ‘Why D’Ya Do It’ by Marianne Faithfull. When he played that, it was a violent record; it got a violent response. He had this thing with the lights where he had an elaborate light system and Robert Da Silva was his light man and he was a great light man. Larry had this clear arrangement with Robert – because he had been a light man too – he had a mini light board on a track with a handle and he would just pull it over in front of him. And without saying anything, he would just start working this song, or part of a song. Robert would just accept that. I remember when he did things like Marianne Faithfull. It was like: I’m doing this and you can tell Larry’s doing the lights: very extreme, very violently emotional. He made you remember that song. He would do that with a lot of the music. That was the thing I remember about the Garage.

The difference between this and the other places, is that he’s controlling the entire environment. At the end, it was far less about him. David [DePino]was told to play not the newest records, but the staples. That’s how the club was then. And Larry was more into drugs, and even if he played well, you related a little less to him personally.

After the club closed, there was a period when I didn’t really see him. Then I started seeing him at the World a little bit, and Trax, behind the Roxy. Basically, Trax was David DePino’s club and it was a huge success but it was basically built on what Larry had started at the Garage. At that point, he didn’t have another situation where he could control the entire vibe. As a DJ he would come in and do his thing but he couldn’t hit that mark like before. He was an excellent DJ, so he could still play well, and mix it up, bring in a few boxes to beef up the system, play a better selection of music. But it didn’t have what people were getting at the Garage. The system wasn’t there, it wasn’t his people, and you would notice more that drugs had a little more of handle on him. Not that he was more high, just that he was more affected. When I had Ninth Circle, my father had passed away, and I ran into him. Larry would come by to me and I had so much respect for him as a mentor, he’d hit me up for a bit of money. I knew what he was going through. And I wanted him to get out of it in a way, but I couldn’t say no to him. It was a real struggle. More than that, it was because of this: how could I deny him? He was such a major part of what I am and what I’m doing.

Is it true that he kept selling his records to pay for drugs towards the end?
That probably has some truth in it. I knew I would find big chunks of it – in a flea market once. He had his records stored all over and, because he wasn’t playing that much and he was into drugs, the people keeping his records weren’t taking them seriously and they’d just get rid of some of them. I remember finding a bunch of things, this particular record, I found an acetate of ‘Can’t Shake Your Love’ by Syreeta. It was a remix that only he had. It was scratched up and didn’t play well. When I saw that, I thought this other stuff must be Larry’s collection. I had a done a lot of edits for bootlegs. I saw Larry after that, and I mentioned this and said, well, it’s not like they’ve got your name on it, but there’s this acetae of ‘Can’t Shake Your Love’. He was like, ‘I need that.’ I said it’s unplayable, but I’ve done these edits of it and you can have that.

How did you get into editing?
My first mix was ‘Chill Pill’ on Sleeping Bag. The first record on Sleeping Bag. [credited to The Sounds of JS126 Brooklyn]. It was a rock thing. Will Socolov I’d grown up with. We did this, and during the session, I knew what I wanted but the engineer… kept saying, ‘Oh we’ll fix that in the editing’. And towards the end he started to do an edit, but he couldn’t do it. I had a reel-to-reel at home, but I’d never done any editing. I was getting frustrated with this guy, literally half the session was this guy trying to do this edit. We salvaged it. I walked out of there thinking I know how to edit, just from seeing what he did wrong. Same thing happened next time: ‘Oh, we’ll fix it in the editing.’ A DJ friend of mine Jonathan Fearing, was into editing, working at WBLS, I was telling him about it and he finally just gave me a quick pep talk and said it’s really just about the ear. I went home and I edited ‘Funky Drummer’ and it ended up being ‘Feeling James’. I gave it to this guy who bootlegged it.

What, the thing on Tommy Boy by Fresh Gordon?
No, it was a bootleg. That may have sampled it. Anyway, there was this guy Tim Rogers at Polygram, he was hanging around the Garage, instead of being a big record exec, he was actually into all this editing and bootlegs and stuff. He found out that it was me and he said, ‘I’m working on all this stuff and I want to put out “Funky Drummer”. Do you wanna do a mix?’ Whenever I’d do an edit, it would turn into a legitimate job. Like I did one of ‘Touch And Go’ [by Ecstasy Passion & Pain] and [future Maxi label founder] Claudia Cuseta was working at Sunnyview at the time, gave me a job to remix the song. The second edit was ‘Rock The House’, which wound up becoming ‘Put The Needle On The Record’. I knew Arthur Baker. I’m just a DJ and I’m doing something that just ends up being a bootleg, so I can’t call anyone a thief. But basically, he took my edit ‘Rock The House’ and he had Gail King play it over this drum beat. That’s all it was. When I saw him in a club, I came over to him and said: ‘Oh is that your record?’. He says, ‘Yeah’. ‘I did ‘Rock The House’. He got so defensive. ‘You did “Rock The House”? You’re a thief anyway, who you calling a thief?’ I said, ‘I’m not calling anyone a thief, I’m just letting you know that I did “Rock The House”’. After that I got a few jobs with him.

Danny with his great friend and Body & Soul collaborator, François Kevorkian

You did the MFSB bootleg of ‘Love is the Message’ as well didn’t you?
Well there are two and they both sample Gil Scot-Heron. I did the white one that has ‘My First Mistake’ on the other side. It’s on T.D. Records. It’s just basically ‘Love Is The Message’ and ‘Love Break’ put together. The other guy that did the other one, this guy who worked at Vinylmania. Speak to Charlie about him. I’ve done a lot edits for that guy, though. By then those were the two main ones. Mine was after the other one, but they were close: early Eighties.

When David Mancuso was playing MFSB was he playing the ordinary version?
Right from the beginning he was probably playing the quad mix on the album. The original album also came in quad. I collect quad and usually since quad wasn’t a bit hit, they had to make things a little different so that even if you played it on your regular stereo you knew it sounded different. Sometimes it was a different version of the song. ‘Rocksteady’ Aretha Franklin, instead of ending at the fade out, it goes on for another two minutes and slows down to a complete stop. It’s got a completely different horn part in it. Apparently in ‘Love Is The Message’ there were a lot of loose keyboard parts that they edited out of the final mix because it was sloppy. In the quad mix, they put them in to make it sound different. Played that till the Tom Moulton Philly Classics mix came out, then played that.

When Tom Moulton remixed it without the frilly bit at the front?
The original and the Tom Moulton mix both had that on it. But the original didn’t go on much and Tom’s kept going.

Has your version of MFSB ever come out legitimately?
No. But MFSB is probably the quintessential bootleg mix.

[Danny was kind enough to let us release his 11-minute mix for the first time on the original compilation for Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (Nuphonic)]

Which other edits have you done?
I stuck to things that were either long gone or impossible to find. As far as other ones: ‘Just Us’ by Two Tons of Fun, ‘Sugar Pie Guy’ [Joneses], ‘Bra’ [Cymande], ‘You Got Me Running’ Lenny Williams, ‘Let’s Start The Dance’ [Bohannon], I had a version that never came out, I just kept going with the guitar.

Is that ‘Let’s Start The Dance III’?
I think it was II. The one with the rapper over it. I did a version without the rapper on. ‘My First Mistake’. I was really proud of that.

I assume that you were doing them to make them better for DJs to play?
Yeah. I’d do something that I knew Larry was into, like ‘Family Tree’ (by Family Tree). I have the original here, it’s one of the most rare records. It’s one of the first 12-inches. Something Larry played and it was such a rare record that even if you owned it you didn’t want to play it in case you scratched it up. When I brought him that he was happy. Also it was a really good edit.

What do you think was the first 12-inch?
It was ‘Dance Dance Dance’ by Calhoun. Definitely. Warner Spector. It was a terrible record. It was a bad way to try and get into the market. I remember immediately after that, the second 12-inch I got, because at the Ninth Circle, I was getting a lot of stuff in the mail. And at that time I was getting a lot of 7-inch 33s, before the 12-inches. Seven minute version on a 7-inch. All of a sudden I started getting these 12-inches in the mail. And I started hearing that this was the new thing. The next song was Floyd Smith on Salsoul, very Barry White sounding, but it wasn’t a big hit. This was a better example of something sounding good. Then there were a few 12-inches. Motown, 20th Century.

Tom Moulton says he did one that he thinks is the first? Al Downing ‘Dreamworld’?
If he did that and that was the first 12-inch, then I’ve never even saw that to this day. The thing about Tom Moulton is, for instance ‘Free Man’, he made a couple of 12-inches himself. Because the record label weren’t going to. I’ve a feeling that if he did a 12-inch of Al Downing, it could’ve been something that just 20 copies were made. If it was the first, it was kind of unheard of. These things were promos, but you’re still talking about 100 copies at least. They got around the US. I’m an avid record collector and I’ve never seen Al Downing. Atlantic’s first one was ‘Mellow Blow’ by Barrabas. People weren’t impressed to start because they really weren’t putting the best stuff on them. Everyone was, ‘Well, there are a lot of hits out there, why are putting these songs on there?’

It was a marketing ploy, basically?
Definitely. This was the age of promotion and this was how to promote these records. Soon after it was almost like 12-inches were going to be laughed at, so they started putting some good songs on there. ‘Ten Percent’ etc.

When The Garage closed and Junior Vasquez started Bassline, what was the reaction to him. Was he seen as a Larry copyist?
Definitely that, but kind of like the way I was describing David DePino at the Garage. Junior was taking it a step further. He had nothing to do with the Garage and yet he was just playing this hit parade. When Junior was playing some great music, but it was rehashed in a time when people really weren’t rehashing music. It was not about retro then. When you heard retro then, it was like what’s wrong with this picture. It was only because the Garage had closed and people were still hanging on to that that it seemed okay. They were good songs and he was mixing. I thought it was fad, and it would fade away, but it kept getting bigger. But then it slowly changed. He was always friendly with me, but he was out of the loop; I crossed a lot of circles and he wasn’t in any of them.

Do you think they turned playing records into a performance?
Totally. And also broke ground. They didn’t take the new hot record and break it when it would have been a hit anyway. They broke a record that would not have been otherwise. They educated people.

Can you think of any examples?
With David [Mancuso] there was such a long line of them. Things like ‘City Country City’ [by War], or ‘Woman’ [by Barrabas]. Those were Loft records. Without the Loft, they were just records. People would scream when they heard a record for the first time, not the tenth. One of the legacies they left is that fever for hunting down records. These are records that were rare the moment they came out. There was a DJ, Tony Smith, from Barefoot Boy, there was a record store on 8th Street, Daytons. I met him because we’d always be looking for those kind of records. A lot of jazz-funk. They’d play something, and if I liked it, it always seemed that Tony would want it too. It was underground even then. Forget about now, back then some of these records were hard to track down too.

What do you think the legacy of these DJs is?
There’s a lot of marks that they made that might go unnoticed. Certainly, I think that Mancuso is one of the main ones. The thing that David expressed, and came out in Larry and Nicky, was playing a positive vibe in the club. When I went to other places I was always amazed at how negative the vibe was. Weaving a message, rather than wandering all over. David made people realise the DJ was important. Before that most people thought a band or DJ: what’s the difference?

© Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton