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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey
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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,025 ratings  ·  64 reviews
From the first time a record was played over the airwaves in 1906, to a modern club economy that totals $3 billion annually in New York City alone, the DJ has been at the center of popular music. Starting as little more than a talking jukebox, the DJ is now a premier entertainer, producer, businessman, and musician in his own right. Superstar DJs, from Junior Vasquez to Sa ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Grove Press
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Feb 22, 2013 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Music and non-music lovers
A super interesting history of the DJ and his record collection. This book basically covers the time when a man or woman played a record in front of an audience. It covers stuff from the 20's to of course the Disco era to the Northern Soul.

I am not into dance music or DJ culture, but saying that this is truly a fascinating history of records and the role it plays in individuals lives as well as social groups of all sorts. The Northern Soul cult is beyond fascinating. DJ's locating old Motown, St
Meredith Enos
This book is clearly well researched, but the prose bogs it down. It takes a fascinating subject and makes it sometimes painful to read about--painful as in laden with pedantry and cliche. It feels like it was written by one of those fanboys who loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and knows why Angel was wearing that bracelet in that one episode and will tell you about it for 15 minutes got turned on to hiphop.

The interviews were good, though.
This book is decent so far, but consider this quote: "Perhaps the most dramatic example is that of rock'n'roll propagator Alan Freed, who was hounded to death (literally) by the FBI..." I naturally wikipedia Alan Freed immediately, hoping to read about his gruesome and fatal mauling by FBI dogs. No such luck, he died in a hospital. BOOOO


I finished it. Consistent with my complaint above, the writer's style was truly terrible, almost a deal-breaker. If you like cliches, repetition, and gratuitou
Gregarious cline
This book is my bible. I reread it every couple of years and get something new and vital out it every time. I'm glad I initially read it years after I started DJ'ing or it might have over loaded my circuits. It's fascinating that the principles that made these historic DJs, DeeJays, and DiscJockeys amazing still hold true today. A must read for anyone who has ever attempted DJ'ing once or more.
Bill Stepien
I cherry-picked chapters around my musical tastes, so I can heartily recommend the parts on reggae and hip-hop. The authors admit that their treatment isn't comprehensive, but focused on their experiences and connections. Still, great stuff on the origins of DJing and the musical forms it spawned.
Kirk Chantraine
Do you mark a book as read when you have to stop reading since it makes you so angry? Sexist, inaccurate, pretentious and condescending - if you have any attachment to DJing or appreciation for music stay away. Gag...
This is the other half. Read "The Oral History of Punk Rock by Legs Mc Neill" before during or after reading this book. The characters, music, moods and ideas all collide.
The book has a lot of great information, focusing mainly on pre-1988. Written in 1999, the book kind of lacks depth regarding the period between 1988 and 1999, but it's hard to really analyze the impact and influences of an era you're currently living in. As a result, the last few chapters that focus on the post-1988 era are pretty repetitive and seem to reveal a lot more about the authors' opinions than the other sections. I'd love to see an update to this book, especially now that the dance mu ...more
Chuck Pee
I teach "electronic music history" because of this book!!!
Peter Stuckings
Generally a really good read. The authors write with humour and a passion for party music that is infectious. I guess my only reservation and reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is the balance of the book between old and current music. I'd expected a book about modern electronic music, with a little bit of history at the outset to set the scene. Instead it's almost 3/4 about everything that happened prior to the Chicago and Detroit scenes brought about the sweaty drug-addled birth of electronic musi ...more
I have now read this so many times, I keep returning time and again.
1st I just read the early history, throughnto the 60's and then my favourite genres: hip-hop, reggae and the British section.
Then I went back and read the Disco Roots chapter - wonderful how early disco was just good eclectic music (Osibisa, Santana, Fela) that could be danced to, in a nonjudgemental environment.
Recently I returned to brush up on my Drum & Bass, read the British section again and all the bits I hadn't (House
Jonathan Monsalve
Long history of all types of music. Takes you on a journey from the first disc jockey to ever play on the airwaves through all types of musical movements.
The writing can be tough to get through at times, but it's a pretty exhaustive history and a good commuting read for DJ geeks like me.
Apr 14, 2008 Julia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all those searching for the perfect beat
disco-tastic! a great, great book. informative. well-documented, well-organized. inspiring. a trip down memory lane. i remember when Rapper's Delight first played on the radio & i rushed out and bought the 12"...and i was listening to Gary Numan's "Cars" at the same time...and before that, disco! it's always more than swell to feel validated & "in the club"...these guys do a terrific job explaining the history & various connections (world-wide) of dance music. extremely well-written ...more
Harrison Teich
Pretty good book. It took me a year to read .. but I liked it.
Wells Crandall
Oct 13, 2007 Wells Crandall rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Music fans
Could you imagine going to a ballet studio turned dancehall to dance to jazz records played one after the other? According to these authors, that was the first two turntable setup. The histories of british, jamaican, european, and american club deejays are presented with excellent interviews. Look out for the quote-rich history of the detroit techno scene. By the end of the book, they start theorizing, and boy you wish they wouldn't! That's after 500 pages of history, though.

Radio deejays are n
Great-loved it
This book is really awesome. It's contains the history of so many of the musical genre's we as ravers enjoy today, and some surprising facts about the birth of hip hop and disco too! It's a little slow at first, but I have to say this book changed my opinions on Disco, and mad me love hip hop and punk even more. A must read for any DJ wanna be, Raver who's been at it for more than the usual 6 months and really any other person who's even enjoyed a night on the dance floor losing themselves with ...more
This is pretty good for writing about pop music. Not too shallow, not to unhelpfully academic. Worked for me.

This book answers the question "where did dj's come from?" So it starts with the phenomenon of recorded sound, to radio stations, to DJ's (who's job it was to select what was played on the air), to disco's beat-matching, to hip-hop's inventions (mixing 2 turntables in order to play only the most hype parts of funk/soul music), to current-day genre relations (techno, etc).

Great book. Should be a book that I continue to revisit over time. A great historical view at the evolution of the DJ. I was fascinated with the northern soul and disco chapters. Such a rich history that is forgotten by many DJ's (and people) today.

I look forward to the 2nd part and more coverage of how the DJ world has evolved in the 10 years after this book was published. Things are moving fast!
Entertaining and validating if you're one of those people who obsesses over his or her record collection. It basically reaffirmed what I already strongly believe - that the DJ is an essentially and highly underrated element of modern culture. A blessing for those of us who get lost in our playlists. But if you don't share that belief, I can only imagine that this book would be a bore.
Andreas Rauh
A good read for dancefloor oriented music lovers and a must read for anyone interested in understanding the history and foundations of music made for dancing. Learn why Jamaica is considered the birthplace of not only ska and reggae, but also of soundsystems, two turntables and a microphone, hip hop, remixing, dub, and much more. Highly recommended and definitely worth a buy.
really great book. a really great history. the narrative & connecting the dots. if you are really steeped in a particular genre or read more specific, in depth books about an individual genre (e.g. Techno Rebels...) then it may seem somewhat of a topical overview at times but this is still a very informative book overall.
Mark Roddy
Fun overview of the history of the DJ in underground culture going back to the 60's. My only complaint is that despite the explosion of topics that could have been covered in the 90's and forward, this decade is brushed over towards the end of the book. Interesting information on previous decades makes up for it though.
Julio Santos
Was pretty good. Particularly liked to understand where names like garage and house came from. Not what I was expecting. I wish there were an update as things have changed (again) since 2000.
Jeff Davis
I'd give it six stars if I could. brilliant
Nov 15, 2007 Mo75 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys clubbing
This really is a stunningly written book outlining the advent of the DJ, from early days in northern England through to gay New York discos of the 70s, to superstar 90s DJs. It's tragic at times (the devastation of AIDS and its impact on the burgeoning 80s gay club scene), amusing, and inspiring.
Dec 17, 2007 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
I got a copy of this years ago and lent it to somebody who never gave it back. Bastards. Then, I found the same edition at a half priced place about a year ago. This book is even BETTER than I remembered. I especially like the rather detailed section on the Northern Soul scene. Quite good!
Chloe Sintim
Well researched with great stories and insight Into a spectrum of musical genres such as hip hop house and disco. Abit repetitive but really enjoyed the interviews. This book would have worked better probably if it was a series of interviews from the makers and shakers of DJs and ravers.
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