Jan.1st – Grandmaster Flash was born Joseph Saddler in Bridgetown , Barbados on this day in 1958.
As a young child , Flash and his family migrated to the United States where Flash grew up in The Bronx , New York which most consider the birth place of hip-hop.
Flash attended Samuel Gompers High School, a public vocational school where he studied how to repair electronic equipment , a skill that would serve Flash well in his career as he became quite adept at repairing discarded stereo and sound system equipment from which he would build his 1st dj sets.
As a child Flash was fascinated by his father’s extensive record collection which consisted largely of jazz , rhythm and blues and calypso recordings.
Flash , the nephew of Sandy Saddler , considered by many boxing experts as the greatest featherweight boxing champion of all time , began deejaying seriously after graduating from high school.
Flash became one of the earliest d.j.’s on the New York City scene as he studied the styles of DJ Kool Herc , Pete Jones and Grandmaster Flowers.
Flash would perfect his d.j. style and mixing and would be responsible for 3 major breakthroughs in turntablism.
One would be the “Backspin Technique” or “beat juggling” which would allow Flash to manipulate two copies of the same record and be able to extend the break-beat part of a record for as long as he wished , thus being a precursor to sampling. A technique to Flash’s own admission annoyed early audiences but soon became a staple part of hip-hop that allowed m.c.’s an uninterrupted percussive passage to rhyme over and breakers a groove to display their best moves for.
The second would be “Punch Phrasing” which would allow Flash to punch in horn , guitar or vocal hits into his mix.
The 3rd would be his perfecting of the art of scratching which was invented by his young d.j. partner Grand Wizard Theodore , whose older brother also was the proprietor of the sound for hire that Flash fronted.
In the early 70’s Flash began working with early m.c.’s like Kurtis Blow and Lovebug Starski who was also a fellow dj as well best known for his work with DJ Hollywood.
In the mid-70’s Flash started his own group with Keith Wiggins a.k.a. Cowboy , Melvin Glover a.k.a. Melle Mel and his brother Nathaniel Glover a.k.a.Kidd Creole. They were known as Grandmaster Flash & The 3 M.C.’s. They were later joined by Eddie Morris a.k.a. Scorpio and Guy Todd Williams formerly of The Funky Four , better known as Raheim and became Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five.
In 1979 , they signed with Enjoy Records and released the hit “Superrappin’”
The following year they switched over to Sugar Hill Records and released a slew of singles before putting out the seminal “Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel”. The track was a 7 minute showcase of a typical Flash live set , cutting up records by Queen , Chic and The Furious Five themselves.
In 1982 , they released the classic single “The Message”, a song that depicted inner-city life in a manner never heard before on record. The group would release their debut album of the same name shortly thereafter. During this time , Flash also appeared in hip-hop’s first film “Wild Style” as himself.
After disagreements within the group , two camps formed. One was Flash , Kidd Creole and Raheim who decided to leave Sugar Hill for Elektra Records and the other was Melle Mel who along with Scorpio and Cowboy decided to stay at the label and add 3 new members and continued to record as Grandmaster Melle Mel And The Furious Five.
After the release of the compilation “Greatest Messages” which featured all of the group’s biggest hits at Sugar Hill including : “Freedom” , “It’s Nasty”(Genius Of Love) , “Scorpio” , “Message 2”(Survival) and “New York , New York”(Message III) as well as the original 1982 “Message” , Flash would release 9 more albums from 1985 to 2009.
Most notable of those releases was 1985’s “They Said It Couldn’t Be Done” on Elektra Records which spawned the hits “Girls Love The Way He Spins” , “Sign Of The Times” , “Rock The House`` (Alternate Groove) and ``Larry`s Dance Theme``.
Flash added Kevin LaVon Dukesn a.k.a. Lavon , Jesse L. Dukes a.k.a. Shame , Russell Wheeler a.k.a. Mr. Broadway and Larry Parker a.k.a. Larry Love and a new super-group was formed.
The album would be Elektra`s first hip-hop release.
Flash would continue to tour the world and electrify audiences around the globe with dazzling turn-table work which is still the cornerstone and blueprint of almost all hip-hop and dance music deejays today. Flash`s showmanship as a d.j. is second to none.
In 2006 , Flash was presented with the BET ``I Am Hip Hop`` Icon Award.
In 2007 , Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five became the first hip-hop group inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when Jay-Z inducted them in a ceremony on Mar.20th in Cleveland , Ohio.
In 2008 , Flash released his memoirs entitled ``The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash : My Life , My Beats.
Flash has also started a clothing line called ``G-Phyre`` and also host a Sirius Satellite radio program called ``Friday Night Fire With Grandmaster Flash``.
Grandmaster Flash is also a playable character in the Activision video game DJ Hero.
Grandmaster Flash is the most influential dj of any musical genre of all time.