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Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five


Grandmaster Flash

Real Name

Born

Joseph Saddler

January 1, 1957 - Bronx, New York

 

Melle Mel
aka Mele Mel

Real Name

Born

Melvin Glover

New York

 

Cowboy
aka Keith Cowboy

Real Name

Born

Died

Keith Wiggins

September 1960 - New York

September 8, 1989

 

Kidd Creole

Real Name

Born

Nathaniel "Danny" Glover

New York

 

Raheim

Real Name

Born

Gut Todd Williams

New York

 

Mr. Ness
aka Scorpio

Real Name

Born

Ed Morris

New York


Grandmaster Flash began to deejay for house parties and in city parks after being inspired by another pioneering DJ, Kool DJ Herc. While at a disco club in Manhattan Flash noticed that a DJ there, Pete DJ Jones, was able to continue break beats seamlessly unlike Kool Herc. After some coaxing Pete let Flash take a turn at the wheels of steel and Flash discovered that Pete had a toggle switch that allowed him to cue all his records by listening to the unused turntable through headphones. Flash then made a toggle switch for his equipment and perfected the technique. What do you suppose Grandmaster Flash is pointing at?

Sometime near 1975 Flash developed a system of reading a record that he called "the clock theory." This is finding a particular section of a record in relation to the logo on the label and how far from the center that section is, which allowed Flash to quickly find what ever he wanted on a record. Flash is also known for doing tricks while deejaying like spinning behind his back, beneath tables, or kicking the mixer with his feet.

Flash then began to gather MC's to keep the party moving during his shows, the first MC that Flash chose was Cowboy, the next MC's Flash chose was Melle Mel and his brother Kidd Creole. They performed as Grandmaster Flash and the 3 MC's, for a time the group was known as Grandmaster Flash and The 3 MC's with the Beat Box because Flash used a Vox drum machine with the group.

In early 1976 promoter Ray Chandler approached Grandmaster Flash in St. Ann's Park in the Bronx about opening a club together. Chandler found a small club on Boston Road and 169th Street with a door painted black and the two decided to call the club the Black Door. The parties were so popular that Flash moved to the Audubon Ballroom to perform before crowds of almost 3,000. A fourth MC, Mr. Ness, later known as Scorpio, was added and the name was Changed to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Four.

In 1977 however the Furious Four split with Ray Chandler who was still Flash's manager/promoter and Grandmaster Flash would perform without the MC's. While Flash was with his MC's he performed and took place in several DJ battles, including one against DJ Tex and Afrika Bambaataa. Flash also did some deejaying for Kurtis Blow. During the summer of 1978 the Furious Four were performing with DJ Charlie Chase, but by the end of 1978 Flash and the Furious Four reunited and were performing again.

In 1979 Rahiem, from the group Funky Four + 1, joined to make the fifth MC, and finally the Furious Five was complete. Also in 1979 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five recorded the song "We Rap More Mellow," under the name the Younger Generation for the Enjoy Records label. Soon after they began recording under their real names for Enjoy Records, their first single for the label was "Superappin'."

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious FiveFlash was disappointed with the ability of Enjoy Records the get his records on the air and he then signed to Sugarhill Records. The first single on Sugarhill Records was released in August of 1980 and was called "Freedom," which was followed by "The Birthday Party." in February of '81. The next song released on Sugarhill Records was "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" and the first record of it's kind, it also displayed Flash's legendary turntable skills. In July of 1982 the classic "The Message" was released and in 1997 Puff Daddy ruined it.

Most good things come to an end and in 1983 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were about to break up. Sylvia Robinson, who owned half of Sugarhill Records, also managed and produced Flash and the Furious Five and Flash felt that there was a conflict of interest so he then took Sylvia to court for five million dollars. The court ruled that Flash had the right to use the name "Grandmaster Flash," but gave him no money. The lawsuit split up the Flash and the Furious Five with Melle Mel, Scorpio, and Cowboy staying at Sugarhill records, while Creole, Raheim, and Flash leaving.

Grandmaster Flash went to Elektra Records and worked with Creole, Raheim, Mr. Broadway, Lavon, Shame, and Larry Love, in 1985 this collaboration produced the hit "Larry's Dance Theme." In October 1983 Sugarhill released "White Lines (Don't Don't It)" which was recorded by Melle Mel, Scorpio, and Cowboy. Later Melle Mel and a new Furious Five, comprised of King Lou, Grandmaster E-Z Mike, Dynamite, Tommy Gunn, and Kami Kazi would make several records for Sugarhill. Melle Mel also made an appearance on the Chaka Khan single "I Feel for You."

In 1988 the original Furious Five reunited with Flash for the album On the Strength. In September of the following year Cowboy died, for reasons that I don't know. Melle would go and work with Quincy Jones as would Grandmaster Flash. In 1994 Flash and the remaining Furious Five members reunited for a show called Mic Check on Hot-97 in New York.


Pictures

Click me! I'ma thumbnail!Yep, this picture again, but it's a good one, and now you can see it in full size. (81 KB)

Click me! I'ma thumbnail!It's the whole gang, decked out in leather just for you. (31 KB)

Click me! I'ma thumbnail! Grandmaster Flash, and the assembled Furious Five (50 KB)

Click me! I'ma thumbnail!It's Melle Mel, now with helmet action. (60 KB)

Click me! I'ma thumbnail!It's Melle Mell agian, sans helmet. (76 KB)

Click me! I'ma thumbnail! A promo for a event starring Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Four (17 KB)