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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

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  1,320 Ratings  ·  70 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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Meredith Enos
May 13, 2011 Meredith Enos rated it liked it
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.
Oct 02, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
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
Gregarious cline
Nov 02, 2012 Gregarious cline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
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
Nov 24, 2011 Kirk Chantraine rated it did not like it
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...
Chuck Pee
Jan 02, 2011 Chuck Pee rated it it was amazing
I teach "electronic music history" because of this book!!!
Nov 30, 2007 Johnpaul rated it really liked it
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.
Gary Fowles
Jun 15, 2017 Gary Fowles rated it really liked it
Damn fine doorstop of a book that attempts the almost impossible of charting the history of the DJ. From it's humble beginning in the scratchy age of valve radio right the way up to the Digital DJ. Of course there are areas that don't get covered as much as one would like, but when it's good, such as the rise of Hip-Hop, the Jamaican sound clashes or the Disco era, it's pretty much perfect.
Joe Soltzberg
Overall a good authority on the history of DJ's. It started off really great and had some great analysis about how culture and DJing helped shaped each other. As the book went on though, the analysis fell off and the book became just a list of facts. Worth reading if you really like the subject.
Dec 29, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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
Peter Stuckings
Dec 10, 2013 Peter Stuckings rated it really liked it
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
Mar 09, 2013 Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2007 Julia rated it it was amazing
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
May 19, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Wells Crandall
Oct 13, 2007 Wells Crandall rated it really liked it
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
Aug 29, 2013 Amani rated it it was amazing
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!
Sep 13, 2007 Robert rated it really liked it
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).

Mark Roddy
Aug 19, 2010 Mark Roddy rated it liked it
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.
Sep 24, 2011 Less_cunning rated it it was amazing
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.
Daniel Lambauer
Feb 12, 2016 Daniel Lambauer rated it liked it
in fairness i did not finish the book primarily because it is not a topic I am massively interested in. but even for someone who is not big at all into dance/disco/etc music this is an interesting book with good number of facts written by clearly an enthusiast. so if you want to know about the origins of modern dance music get the book.
Oct 10, 2012 Gurldoggie rated it liked it
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
Feb 25, 2010 Andreas Rauh rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 26, 2007 Kevin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: air DJs
Shelves: music
I admit to not having read all of the book. I purchased it to feed into my Scratch (DVD) phase and learn more about the history of Hip Hop and DJing in the Eighties and Nineties. I really like this book and would like to spend more time with it.
Katie Schuller
Aug 20, 2013 Katie Schuller rated it it was amazing
This book is awesome. I especially like how it show how disc jockeys now a days, especially ones working in clubs can do such great things with digital technology. Awesome read, very informative. I read it all in one day, August 12, 2013 (8/12/2013). Thanks
The Book Nazi
Aug 30, 2010 The Book Nazi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short History of How the DJ came into the Big picture! And How Music Genres like Trance, Techno, House, Garage and Hip Hop was Born, who created it, the info on pioneers of these genres etc..It's an awesome book and will make you a mini musicologist :)
Mar 06, 2009 Funky rated it really liked it
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in the cult of the DJ and the craze of EDM.

Explores the very roots of DJ culture, going back to radio, and showing how most popular genre music has its roots in the culture which preceded it.
Nov 09, 2007 Mo75 rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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!
same review ast "Looking for the Perfect Beat". Once again, if you're interested in modern American and English (but definetly influenced by many other cultures/styles of music) dj history, this book is well written and higly recommended.
Chloe Sintim
Sep 21, 2012 Chloe Sintim rated it liked it
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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“Opium? No! Cocaine? No! The Great American Brain Killer Is Dance Music!’ – Portland Oregonian, 1932 T” 0 likes
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