emerged. If you noticed, I did not say founded, invented,
discovered or created. There is a strange similarity in Hip-Hop and
Blues. They both express poverty and oppression. Now let’s go back
as far as I can recollect. Back in the 40’s, during the Prohibition
Era and right after WWII, The Blues prevailed.
is a strange contrast in Hop-Hop and the blues. Rap and Hip-Hop
artists are young, the Blues artists were older, yet the message was
the same. I remember back in the 40’s, when my father, grandfather
or uncle would have a day off, come home from work, after supper or
the weekends, they would grab a guitar and start strumming the Blues
about hard times or his woman done left him. Most early Blues
artist would strum their guitar a few chords and sing, talk or rap a
Later in the 40’s
hard times started easing a bit because I remember getting a new
pair of shoes and some new jeans. By the time, Black musicians
started creating bands or groups musicians added beats to their
music by using a fork and a scrub board. Scrub boards were used by
mothers to wash clothes. The scrub board served as a drum. The
bass was added by using sticks tied tightly with strings to a tin
tub. Tin tubs were used to wash clothes or to take a tub bath.
This combination of items would create a beat people could dance
to. People were probably dancing because of prosperity. This type
of music was called Jump ‘N Jive or Boogie-Woogie, which probably
later emerged into R&B.
there were many inventions. The record player was a record machine
many called the talking machine. The record player in the 40’s was
a piece of furniture about 5 feet tall. The record player was not
electrical, thus it had to be wound up. The needle or stylus for
this machine looked like nails or tacks. The needle would be
sharpened if it was twisted into a wall or piece of wood. The
records were 78 RPM. The records were heavy and if dropped, would
shatter like glass.
Friday and Saturday nights, I would go with my parents to my
grandmother’s home. My uncles, aunts and their friends gathered at
my grandmother’s and listened to the music machine my grandmother
had. Few had such a machine in those days. I was fascinated by my
grandmother’s collection of records.
I remember hearing
her play Louis Jordan, The Chicken Shack and Saturday
Night Fish Fry. These records had a Hip-Hop beat. I would play
music all night long and everyone danced to the music I was playing.
In the 50’s, I was
particularly interested in Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway’s Minnie
the Moocher (The Hi De Ho Song), Nat King Coles’s
Straighten Up and Fly Right, Amos Milburn’s Drinking Wine
Sporty Odie and Rockin’ the Boogie, Lavern Baker’s Jim
DandyDo the Rescue and Coco Taylor’s Wang Dang Doodle.
R&B took another
twist in the 50’s. Jump ‘N Jive was then what we called ‘Gut Bucket’
party/dance music in the 60’s and 70’s. People could ‘act the fool’
or dance similar to Break dancing today. During this time, the only
music you could hear were records you heard at a friend’s house or
records your parents had around the house. Black music was not
often played on the radio in the early 50’s. There were dead spots
that were spots when few were listening to the radio that Black
music was played. You could hear Jump ‘N Jive music only early in
the morning or late at night. I remember staying up many nights
until 1:00 o’clock in the morning to listen to Randy’s Record Mart
in Tennessee. The Tennessee station played Blues and R&B for about
of the black jocks, disc jockeys or radio DJs who stood out in my
mind in the early 50’s were Jack Gibson known as Jack the Rapper;
Jimmy Bird, known as Dr. Jive; Ray Henderson who was Jocko and Ike
Goode who was Prince Ike. They all came on with a rap or skit
before their show started. These tactics impressed me about
In the 50’s, I was
tall, awkward, inhibited and growing rapidly. I am now 6’8”. When
I would go to a party or gathering, I would take interest in the
record playing or music department. That way, I would not have to
worry about dancing. I would always remember the records people
preferred for dancing. This was the beginning of my interest in
In the late 50’s, I
went to New York to live with my brother. I noticed more radio
stations playing black music than in North Carolina. I began to
listen to Jocks like Jocko, Allen Freed, Dick Clark, Symphony Sid,
Eddie O’Jay, Garry Bird, Jerry Bledsoe and later Frankie Crocker and
Ken “Spider Man” Webb.
I became really
interested in music and recordings. I brought a stereo radio, added
a turntable, haphazardly hooked up a microphone, bought a
reel-to-reel tape recorder and began listening to certain types of
music and recording it.
I was more
interested in music that had Hip-Hop overtones like James Brown,
Bobby Byrd, The Ray Gees, Lynn Collins and others. Each payday, I
would buy two or three records and when my brother gave parties on
Fridays and Saturdays, I would be the DJ man. I would pay 7” 45s
and talk on my little microphone and try to inspire the crowd
because everyone was expecting me to get the party jumping.
Since I could only
afford limited copies of records, I would take several of the few
hits and take out certain parts of the records and play them over
and over again. I noticed crowd and record reaction since childhood,
I was not a dancer, I was a wallflower, and I always hung around the
records and turntable, I knew what would make people move. I would
start playing records over and over again or certain areas of a
record I would play over and over again to make the people react and
There was no such
thing as a cueing system at the time, so I developed
a knack that I could look at a record and see the different changes
of the grooves in a record that I could use. It got to the point
that I could almost put it right on the spot that I wanted the
record to play on. By the 60’s I was able to keep the party jumping
without there being a break in the music. There was always a
little break in a song like the chorus in a song, where it seems to
inspire people to dance and party harder. I would recognize the
groove in the record and play the few hits that I had and work them
into frenzy. Many times, James Brown saved my day, because that was
the first record that I remember having Part I and Part II.
Eventually, in the
late 60’s, the 12-inch Disco version came out and they had a longer
chorus, break part of beat part in the record and I could play it
even longer. I had more time to get my grooves right for the next
decade, R&B took a twist or added on a branch of music that was
called ‘Gut Bucket’ type of music. ‘Gut Bucket’ type music is
known as the lower class type R&B that the higher echelon would
frown upon or look down on.
In the 40’s you had
the Jump ‘N Jive which was like a ‘Gut Bucket’ type of music. In
the 50’s and early 60’s you had James Brown, Bobby Byrd and the
JayBees. In the 70’s you had James Brown, The Ohio Players, Dennis
Coffee, Fat Back Band, Willie Hutch, Curtis Mayfield and The Isley
Brothers and so on.
the 70’s another branch was added to the tree of R&B. A dance known
as the Hustle which was started by Blacks and later adopted by
Latinos and Whites. Later in the 70’s Blacks chose to stay with the
regular R&B as the Latinos and Whites continued with the Hustle.
The R&B artists who are known for their Hustle style music were Vann
McCoy, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summers, The Sound of Philadelphia and
During the radio
boom of the 60’s, when recorded music got a lot of air play,
especially in New York City, the general public was exposed to a lot
of music with different ethnic backgrounds such as Reggae, Calypso,
Latin and African music which otherwise they may not have heard.
Eventually, R&B, Reggae, Caribbean and Latin music became closer
together. These artist borrowed a little from each other and
created a unique sound that has a lot to do with the Hip-Hop type
music today. This music always featured a lot of bongos and
drumbeats, which go back to the African sound.
We should keep in
mind that Hip-Hop music is recorded music that was recorded by real
live artist, in the studio who work their butts off for this music.
I sincerely believe these artist should get some credit or mention.
Hip-Hop music was not created or discovered by DJs nor did DJs
invent Hip-Hop. DJs probably took Hip-Hop music to another level.
Hip-Hop music is recorded music.
However, I think
the Sugar Hill Gang and Kurtis Blow made major contributions by
being the first to expose Hip-Hop, as we know it today, to the
�2001 Pete Jones No
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PETE JONES INTERVIEW