JayQuan : Was the Fever the first club that you ever owned ?
: No the first club that I ran was called the Playhouse in 1971. I was
19 years old and back then the drinking age was only 18. I was the
youngest club owner in the Bronx.
opening the club during the disco era and my father already had R&B
clubs in the Italian white neighborhoods , up near Gunhill
Rd , Allison Ave & Whiteplains Rd. He always had Black bars
& clubs in the
South Bronx ; so we were sitting there building this Jazz lounge called
Pepper & Salt on 157th and Jerome Ave , and I was working
uptown in the white places he had. We had been lookin’ for a name for
about 3 months , and we were sitting down watchin’ tv and my mom saw
an advertisement for Saturday Night Disco Fever ; and she says why
don’t you name it Disco Fever – we said nah get outta here. The next
day we got up sayin' Disco Fever sounds pretty hot. So we got it from my
mom , she named it.
Nah I always worked with my father running his clubs , and I had 2 or 3 little side spots of my own. See I got shot when I was 23 , so my dad said that I had to get outta the business. We tried to run a lumber yard , but I couldn’t wake up that early – by the time I was comin’ in it was time to close up. People were stealin’ lumber & shit. I was always doing promoting and stuff – and when my dad opened the Fever he asked if I wanted to work there on weekends until I got myself together. It was no big deal to me because I grew up around 95% Black people and the clubs we operated had Black employees and clientele. Plus everyone knew me from growing up – my Grandmother had a grocery store on 169th & Washington. My family had different stores all around the South Bronx so I never felt uncomfortable being the only white boy in the place. So me being around 25 at the time , young and wanting to change things; some of the older employees like 50 or so felt they might lose their jobs. I was trying to bring in new shows ‘cus REAL Disco like the Joneses and the Tramps was dying out. I would bring shows and they would bomb, and these older guys were happy ‘cus they could keep their jobs. There was a store downstairs and I asked my father to make it into another floor and just have a 2 story disco. He did and we did real well. We had an older R&B crowd – couple hundred people ; and I brought in some younger Djs - and the crowd started getting younger too , like early 20s and the drinking age was 18. At the end of the night this guy would get up on the wheels and takeover for the main Dj who was a Pete Dj Jones type of Dj. This guy was Sweet G and this was like 1977. The main Dj was ready to go home and Sweet G would get on and do these nursery rhyme type raps , but he would really have a lot of crowd interaction. There was more energy in the place for that last hour and a half that he was on than there was the whole night the older Dj was on !! No club Djs really spoke on the mic back then except for Hollywood at Club 371. Other Djs like Starski & Flash were kids – they were in the parks. No one was in the clubs talking over records. They may have played in the projects or parks. Somebody might have booked them in a small little fire hazard spot like Sparkle , or a wedding place like Savoy Manor. I went to my father and told him that we needed to do something with the Dj talking over the music , but he didn’t want to. I started getting close with Sweet G and I found out that he could sing too , so I took him to Westchester to all the white clubs and he was winning all these talent shows. These younger kids started coming poking their heads in , and this one kid came in and it was Junebug , and I kept hearing about this 371 , so me & G went to check it out , and I saw Hollywood with his suit on like mack daddy back then. He had this 4 or 5 man crew with him and he would say Holly and they would say Wood and they had this little routine. They had on Hollywood shirts and everything. This guy was making like $1500 a night to play for 2 hours and this was the 70s when guys were getting 50 dollars. He was a star with no record out. 371 was very slick , older & gangsterish , so Junebug started poppin off at the Fever. I started hearing a lot about Flash & Starski , so I went out to the park where Flash was playing. He was Djing with his feet and mouth and the crowd was going off. Remember the drinking age was 18 so high schoolers were in the clubs , especially back then everybody got left back. I asked Flash would he like to play in a club & he agreed to it , but I think he wondered why this white guy was down here watching him play. I approached my dad again to let me do this rap thing , he said Tuesday nights and that’s it. I told Flash that the first night I would pay him 50 dollars and he was like “ I ain’t playing for 50 dollars”. I told him that we were only charging a dollar a drink and no charge to get in. I told him that no one would discover him in the parks , and that he was gonna be a star if he came to the club. He finally agreed but said that he had the Furious 5 , and I told him that he would have to pay them out of that 50 bucks (laughs). We handed out flyers for 2 weeks. Flash came , Sweet G came to hang out with me , and I had 1 barmaid and 1 bartender. 650 people showed up – we ain't ready , the place can’t even hold 650. That kicked it off. The next week we were more prepared , I charged a dollar to get in , still a dollar to drink and I had 3 barmaids. I think we made like $500 for 600 people (laughs again). We had these back rooms and I told my father we should open them up , and we did – they each held like another 50 – 75 people. The total with all the rooms & floors was about 1000 or so people. Then I grew and had Luvbug Starski on Monday , Hollywood on Wendesday , Eddie Cheeba on Sunday , Reggie Wells on Thursday , then Junebug left 371 and worked for me on Thurs , Fri and Sat. with Sweet G. Those older guys that thought that they were gonna get knocked off did – but we put them in other clubs. After that it was history , it just blew up.
have heard the name Reggie Wells , but I am not very familiar with him ,
can you fill me in?
Herc and Clark Kent did play for me before Junebug , but only a few
weeks. The music that they were playing wasn’t going with what I
wanted. I wanted more Disco at the time and they were playing the funk
that they would play at their parties.
to me was the best Dj/rapper who
did both at the same time . Hollywood needed a Dj .He could play by
himself , but I thought that Starski was the best at doing the Emcee/Dj
thing at the same time. Everyone
wanted Junebug to mix when they were rapping because he mixed perfectly
and he never made them fall off beat. He was so good he didn’t need
earphones half the time.
, the only thing I noticed was that I could never get the Zulu Nation to
come play. Bam and his whole crew rarely came to the Fever. I think it
may have been too commercial for them. I would have loved to have them.
Red Alert came near the end , he was the only one. Maybe it was because
I was a white owner , I don’t know.
was good about the Fever , and no
rap club today could never come near it ; was that the customers started
becoming recording artists each week. Like this week its Whodini , then
Marley Marl , next Mc Shan at any time you could walk in my club and
there would be 40 or 50 people with hit records in there at the same
time. Nobody is paying attention to them , and they are comin’ in by
themselves !! No limo , security – Oran Juice Jones , Force Mds -
people with big hit records sniffin’ blow sippin' some Moet and partyin’.
That’s why the club is still mentioned in records today – ‘cus
people hear stories from Russell & Kurtis and Andre Harell (of
Jeckyll & Hyde,Harlem World Crew and Uptown Records) hung out there
too. Lyror Cohen of Def Jam also.
ran a classy spot – everything was for the customers. People wanted to
know how this white Italian kid with a mafia father ( people thought
that) could be so cool. I played basketball in Evander high School,
every thanksgiving half my table was Black. I grew up on Motown music ,
and I am very comfortable in the Bronx. I started the basketball
tournament at the Ruckers with Greg G (Disco 4) & Mr. Magic. I won 2
MVPs. People didn’t even know I could play and they went crazy. I
played in the first game. It was Disco Fever against Sugarhill Records at Mt Morris park. There must have
been 3000 people there and the only advertising that we did was on Mr
Magics WHBI show. I scored the last 15 points of the game & the
winning shot. They were picking me up carrying me around the court. That
was the turning point when motherfuckers was sayin’ he ain’t white ,
this motherfuckers Black !!!! A lot of those people went to schools in
Harlem and the Bronx and didn’t have any Black friends , and they only
dealt with whites on jobs or whatever , but not at a club. My father had
the same legacy before me and that made it easier for me. Between me and
him we were down there a total of 40 years.
Oh you’re in
Virginia – Blair Underwood is from VA. We were cool on the set of
Krush Groove. He was whiter than I was (laughs). Well we released Games
in 1983 and right after our distribution company (West End records) went
out of business and we didn’t even get paid. See in ’79 Rappers
Delight came out , and I was doin' community work , and paying for
peoples funerals that I didn’t even know etc. I became Mr Magics
biggest sponsor on WHBI and got him started with that. Big things were
happening and I was having a ball. Kurtis Blow was getting’ big and
Sweet G was managing the club. G made a record on West End records
called Heartbeat. Then Treacherous 3 made a record off of Heartbeat
also. Then Kurtis met Kenny Nix (producer of Tanyaa Gardners original
Heartbeat) and Kenny wanted to record a rap record with his music since
everyone else is doin’ it. I overheard them talking about it and I
said let Sweet G do it. Kurtis didn’t want him to do it ‘cus Sweet G
wasn’t young and Hip like Treacherous 3 . People used to call G the
“singing rapper”. Kurtis finally agreed ‘cus I had been good to
him. Well he did the record and it blew up – June Bug mixed it though
he never got credit. Russell kept sayin’ start your own record company
– I told him I didn’t know about the industry , but he said you
don’t have to……I really should have been partners with Russell ,
but that sounded like work…like going to the office and getting up
early. But Russell kept pressuring me and he said that he was starting a
label and that his first record was droppin' soon (LL Cool J’s "I Need A
Beat"). Finally in ’83 I met with West End and discussed releasing
records with them with the Fever Logo. We put out “Games” and it blew
up !! I wrote that in my office. I had a gambling spot called Games and
I based it on that. But everything was goin’ well and Kurtis was doin’
shows with G , the club was open till 6 in the morning and of course the
drugs were there. The drugs weren’t a problem yet because we were all
young and healthy , but as we got older it posed some problems. By this
time everybody is makin' records, Starski is my Dj and the best cats with
no records are Starski & Hollywood. Hollywood thought that he was
above records OR he was
afraid to flop. He thought that it was a fad. If he walked into a room
even guys that had records gave him respect.
was a big year. Games blew up , Starski had “You Gotta Believe” /
Live At The Fever” , the club was big , we were getting tv coverage.
Run Dmc just came out. We did a concert at Radio City Music Hall and
Fearless 4 , Kurtis Blow , Sweet G and Whodini performed. .Everyone got
in for free. That’s 6000 kids. They gave me 1500 tickets to give my
customers. Oh, and they had
the contest and the Fat Boys won. That’s how they got their deal.
Charles Setller was their manager and me, Kurtis and Russell got him to
WBLS with Mr. Magic.
ever harassed by Ray Chandler or any of the Black promoters?
ever harassed by Ray Chandler or any of the Black promoters?
Prince ever show up at the filming of Krush Groove with Sheila E
Did Prince ever show up at the filming of Krush Groove with Sheila E
I think he came to one rehearsal.
more info on Sal & the Fever check www.feverrecords.com
2003 JayQuan Dot Com No part may be reproduced without authors