: Peace , its an honor.....im not gonna ask you about the single pole
double throw switch , or Pete Dj Jones . Im gonna try to ask some
things that I never heard you answer . ........... How did you
actually hook up with Mean Gene & Grandwizard Theodore (The L
Grandmaster Flash : Well , after I
had already taken 3 - 4 years to create the Dj art form which I call
the quick mix theory , which included cutting , backspinning etc...I
was a searching scientist . I would drag things in from backyards,
abandoned cars - electrical items like speakers , thrown out stereo
equipment - because I was in search of something. I got to an age when
my family was really pissed about it . I decided to make a move , I
took my equipment and I met a gentleman named Gene Livingston . I
lived on 138th St and Cypress Ave. he lived 168th & Boston Rd . In
meeting Mean Gene he was known as the block bully - you really didn't
wanna piss him off . He was willing to be my partner . The majority of
the equipment was his and I added mine.
I got comfortable with my equipment staying there . His mother Mrs
Mary Livingston was a sweetheart , she treated me like I was one of
her children. I practiced at his house and honed my craft . Mean Gene
had the back room of his mothers apartment . She had one of those old
school apartments that was really big . Genes room was way in the
back...you had to go through the living room to get there . When I
would go through the living room there was this little kid in the
living room playing around with his mothers stereo . I noticed he was
able to find the beggining of the break on a record...he would do this
with one turntable .
He would pick the needle up when the
break was about to end ; he would pick the needle up and drop it in
the precise spot where the break began . I was so amazed by this !! I
couldn't do that . I had to come up with the clock theory , which is
bringing the record back mathematically x amount of revolutions to
arrive at the top of the break , by a mark on the record . He was able
to do this by picking up the needle and dropping it right on the
groove . I found this so amazing !! I told Gene that his brother was
doing what I wished I could do. I was trying to show Gene this new
found way of Djing..I called it the needle drop. I asked if we could
incorporate his brother into the group , because at this time we
wanted to do any and everything to get noticed. The person who was the
overlord and had all the recognition by himself was Kool Herc. He was
the man to shoot for . I thought that since the few people that I was
showing this to couldn't do it , not only would it be a relief to me ,
but a great gimmick because he was so young and short for his age.
Gene said " Flash if I catch you with my little brother on the set ,
its gonna be me & you". I was like fine...this was Mean Gene
Livingston the neighborhood bully - you didn't want to get into any
shit with him . I respected his wishes for a minute , but as soon as
he left the neighborhood ; I would get his brother , and take a milk
crate and turn it upside down and I had him stand on. I told him to do
what he did on his moms stereo. We kept it secret for a long time .
After awhile I had to tell Gene that his brother had the technique
down and I took him to 63 park with me . People found him so amazing .
He actually looked better than me doing it because he was so little .
It got Gene pretty upset and me & him couldn't perform in the same
group so I had to leave . That's when I formed my own group.
JQ : What are your 3 favorite
Breakbeats of all time ?
GMF : Apache , Star Wars &...hmmm
this is hard.....Mardis Gras (the bells) by Bob
JQ : What is your relationship to EZ
Mike & Disco Bee ?
: Whooaaa good questions !! .....EZ Mike is my childhood buddy . I
have been knowing him for most of my life . After this style of Djing
became popular , he was one of the few people who caught onto it , but
he wasn't interested , and he went astray . He led the other life ,
and it got him in some trouble - we were disconnected for ten or
twelve years ; and we just reconnected this year . Mike is the one in
all the pictures with us. He is on the Message album cover with us .
He has a clean head and is very focused now . Disco Bee is in
Greensborough , but whenever I have gigs where I need his experience I
call him out . He has a family and lives down South but he still rolls
with me . They both do....they were both my assistants .
JQ : When the group split EZ Mike
went with Mel's faction right ?
GMF : Yes , at that time things were
rough on Mike , and I think that Mel made him an offer to basically be
me . I left because I was fed up with the whole situation . There were
still shows and money to be made , but I didn't want to do it anymore.
The closest thing to me on the wheels was Mike , because Disco Bee
didn't really have the dexterity . So they coerced Mike into going on
the road with them . I didn't get mad at him because he had to make a
JQ : What's your favorite GMF & F5
release on the Sugarhill label ?
GMF : Freedom
JQ : Did you realize that "
Adventures On The Wheels " was making an impact outside of New York ?
: In America nobody cared. The only person who ever gave the record a
chance was Frankie Crocker . Nobody here really understood it. When it
was released in Europe , Germany & Japan and we went there, it was
like " oh God he is here ". I was a hero to so many people that it
scared me . I expected this reaction in America , but I didn't get it.
JQ : Did you get any flack from the
label about releasing that type of record?
GMF : No she (Sylvia) encouraged it .
I approached her many times about it . I just would drop it in her ear
" Sylvia can I make a cut record ?" After awhile we were coming off
tour and she flew me & Mel in and said lets do this record . She told
me to pick the records that I wanted to use and we did it .
JQ : Did you do it in one take ?
GMF : Nah...it took 3 takes . The
first was just getting familiar with moving from one turntable to the
next - the dexterity . The second time was getting even more familiar
, and the third time I just locked it in .
JQ : Was the Bozo Meko version of
"Flash To The Beat" authorized by you ?
GMF : No...just someone bootlegged it
from a party.
JQ : What about " We Rap More Mellow
GMF : Well Furious and I got into a
real bad disagreement and split for awhile . Terry Lewis had been
after the guys to record for awhile. I wasn't really pleased with him
. When we split he got to the guys . They made the record , but they
couldn't use the real name , so they used that name (Younger
JQ : Scorpio told me , & I quote "
its good being a part of our group , but sometimes I think GMF & F5
are some of the stupidest motherfu*%rs in the world . Mel & Flash cant
get along , and that's why we aren't out here getting this money like
Rolling Stones , Kiss & Aerosmith . Mel & Flash hold grudges for 15
years - that's why we aren't out there now" . Is that accurate?
: Its true . I think what crushed me is Mel was my golden child in my
formula , and when he sided with Sylvia for just a couple of seconds
it crushed me . When I put this formula together he wasn't a center ;
he was a point guard . He was such an important factor in the formula
, I cant imagine what she could have said to him that would make him
not see the same vision . When we stopped looking at the same vision
it all fell apart . Someone else was able to whisper in his ear and it
crushed me . When we were fully focused we were unstoppable . When we
all stopped looking at the same prize , I said this is really over .
JQ : Do you feel that if you had been
a strong unit in 82-83 , that you could have prevented some of Run Dmc
& the next school from emerging as powerful as they did?
GMF : I think that the ball was
dropped , so the timing was perfect . They didn't really take
advantage of anything - the ball didnt bounce anymore . If you were
watching the Bulls play ball , and all of a sudden Pippen & Jordan
don't get along anymore , and the ball just stops bouncing - someone
else is gonna pick it up and go with it . So the ball was dropped by
Jordan & Pippen so to speak .
I want you to put this in your
interview- the beatbox is a manually operated drumbox that I used to
play while I was Djing . It was a machine made in England by Vox.It
had a bass drum key , snare , hi hats and hand claps . I used to play
this like a typewriter almost .
The phrase beat box was coined by me , but it didn't reach the masses
. Well it went to sleep and reemerged with people doing it with their
mouths. So the human beatbox is these guys emulating something that I
created - I just want people to know that . My neighbor was a drummer
who used it to keep his fingers nimble . Whenever he couldn't set up
his drums he used this . He lived in the projects - 149th & Jackson
Ave . I begged him to sell it to me , he sold it to me for $125.00 .
JQ : Where did the "B Team"
replacement guys come from after the split ?
GMF : Lavon & Broadway were good
friends with Rahiem . Him & Creole were comfortable with these guys .
They were pretty good , but they were never my template . It was
ok....a way to keep the name alive . Of course the original F5 is
untouchable . Once I discovered the disarray I was in at Sugarhill , I
had aquired friends at record labels . Once we legally got out , I met
Bob Krasnow - the big cheese at Elektra.
talked to him , and explained my situation . I learned how to sign a
deal the industry way , which was a little different from the way we
did it previously . The records we did were ok , but they wanted the
original group . I told Bob that it wouldn't be cheap , and it would
be hard to do . When I talked to them(Furious) they were happy about
it - they were with it . They said we just need a few things - I got
what they needed . Then I had a real good relationship with a car
dealer in Long Island . Rahiem wanted a BMW , Scorp wanted a Benz and
so did Mel. Creole wanted a Benz and Cowboy didn't want a car .
Cowboy rode shotgun with Scorp or Mel . Once the deal was made with
Elektra we went to Long Island , put the order in , and we drove out
of there with 2 BMWs & 3 Mercedes . We drove from Long Island to Ny -
we drove through the Bronx following each other through our old
neighborhood like we are back !!! It was almost like an advertisement
. But it was my deal , and too many people were messing with the
structure of it . I could have saved the deal because Bob was my
friend . But I would tell Bob its red , and then here comes someone
saying its green - and Bobs all confused - it just got messier and
JQ : Is there any relationship with
you and any Furious members ?
GMF : I see Rahiem sometimes , we hug
- I don't see Creole , Mels on the West coast. I saw Scorp about a
year and a half ago - he is in Atlanta . That's where its at . In my
heart im missing Cowboy too much. He was the reason that my Dj
invention was able to explode . He was the one who believed . When I
created this Dj artform I tried to mix and talk at the same time . My
theory was if I can run these breaks one behind the other on time ;
the parks gonna go crazy . The park was like a seminar - everybody
just watched. I cried for like a week - then I tried to talk myself
and it didn't work . Then many tried and failed - but Cowboy had this
ringmaster voice , and he had these Simon says tactics - call &
response . It was a great diversionary tactic because people stopped
watching me. It gave me a chance to finally exercise my science . He
kinda saved my life . Him and Theodore reassured me that I had
something . Its like how do you replace Cowboy? I just couldn't do
that again - I love & I miss him so much . He was the first , like my
first born . Its like dad missing his kids still . So what Scorp said
in essence is that early on we were pretty stupid not to get together
. But after so many years passed as human beings you have to make a
living - we have children , and you believe in your craft . You push
on and don't wait for anybody to give you anything. By the grace of
God I have been pretty fortunate . I just wish that my second in
command had continued to believe in me - that's Mele Mel .
JQ : Yeah it hurt me when you guys
broke up. And its sad that when people mention GMF&F5 they just know
the Message , which wasn't even a group effort . There was so much
more before the Message.
GMF : That record was the demise of
my formula . The price was too high to pay for that record . It was
the beginning of the end . I fought Sylvia and I cried & cried , and
that's when I got into drugs to escape reality. A stranger came in and
divided and conquered basically . When I lost the love & belief of Mel
there was no way it could properly survive. We couldn't relate ,
couldn't sit in the same dressing room. When we toured we didn't
strategize & talk like we used to - that's what it took to put that
group together .
Me & Mel used to consult each other . Then came the ugly court battle
& she stuck Grandmaster on Mel & the pain continued. This is how I
feed my children ; as great as Mel is he don't have to put Grandmaster
on his name for the sake of a record company that don't like me . It
hurt both of us and confused the public . People wanted to book
Grandmaster Flash , but is it the Dj ,or the guy with the long hair ,
or the guy with the muscles?
JQ : Peace ....its an Honor
As told to Jayquan on 06/11/02
©2002 JayQuan Dot Com
*thanks to Pete Dj Jones*