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I set up a small recording facility in a loft space on the near South Side and called it Head Studios.
We had a Tascam 8 track tape player, some rack effects, a few synthesizers a drum machine and a Commodore 64 computer we used as a MIDI sequencer.
I was recording rock bands like the Defoliants and Hand to Mouth as well as exploring this ground breaking new world of digital music.
It was an amazing time in Chicago.
Long time Irish Catholic Mayor Richard Daley died in office. After a turbulent few years Harold Washington became Chicago’s first Black mayor and uprooted a political system influenced for decades by the Irish & Italian Mob and an ancient, entrenched political class.
A New Wave from the Third Coast was beginning.
I remember listening to Chicago’s WBEZ and a National Public Radio broadcast called ‘Other America’s Radio’ hosted by Sandra Geer.
It detailed a law suit brought by reporters Tony Avergon, Martha Honey and the Christic Institute against Ronald Regan and his administration for running cocaine in military C130 aircraft into America to fund the Contra militants in Nicaragua.
The name of this secret operation conducted by Oliver North and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger allegedly run from the basement of the White House was called ‘Project Democracy.’
Little did I know I would witness first hand the same type of monopolistic, tyrannical corruption in my own life but at a much, much, much smaller scale.
It was life as usual at Head Studios then one day the phone rang. It was not-yet-then House Music Legend Marcus Mixx who asked if I did ‘House’.
I was like. ‘Uh…well this is a loft.’
I never heard of House Music before.
One thing lead to another. With our cable access House Music Dance Show, the first continuous dance mix TV show of it’s kind, and our records being spun in clubs and on the radio we became famous with a small ‘f’ in our own little world of bustin’ beats, club craziness and endless nights filled of ‘booze, buds and babies’ as the Mixxer puts it.
On Friday’s it would start.
BMX stood for Black Music Xpression. 98.5 if I remember correctly.
From one end of Lake Shore Drive to the other. From every car, on every street corner, from every apartment and club the entire city was bouncing to this new beat born from the drum machine and the dawn of the Digital Age.
There were no illiterate Gangsta thugs in this scene. No one would be seen with their pants below their underwear.
These were college educated black entrepreneurs who mixed computer sequencers and electronic beats with a full range of Church bred singers and sampled voices from Martin Luther King to James Brown.
The scene got bigger and bigger every year.
Madonna used a Chicago house bass and drum feel for the song “Vogue”.
It was in the air. The buzz was everywhere. I think it was Jamie Principle who we heard through the grapevine had just sold 50,000 thousand records of his latest track.
I knew what that meant. We were pressing vinyl at the lowest price we could find in the USA; Dixie records in Tennessee at 98 cents a piece.
We were selling records to One-stop distributors like Ray Barney’s on the West Side and local stores like JR’s Music and Grammophone for $2.50 each. They were selling them for $5.00.
Simple math says moving 50,000 records meant a $75,000 dollar payday for us and a $125,000 payday for our independent stores and distributors.
It was a glorious time.
It was so exciting.
And we were so naive.
It was right around the time of Pulp Fiction. The major record labels landed like vultures. They signed a few rock bands like Urge Overkill and Material Issue.
Then they signed a few major House Music producers. I remember seeing a House Music video on MTV. I thought our ship had sailed in. I had been using an acronym for my name. Like IBM, but too modest to use capital letters my name as a House Music producer became: l.i.a.m.
What did the abbreviation stand for?
‘Life Is A Miracle.’
With the computer I saw it. One man could do what an entire company could do. It was a New Revolution, real power to the people. We knew because we were living and breathing it everyday.
Then a major media outlet bought WBMX and changed the format. The mixes on Friday and Saturday disappeared in a blink of an eye. The House producers that signed to the major labels were never heard from again. The distribution dried up and the scene we had known and loved for almost 10 years died.
Or better put; it was strategically put to death.
Destroyed. Killed. Why?
Because we became a threat. We started to generate real money outside of the system. Or as Johnny Lydon of the Sex Pistols calls it the ‘shitstem’.
I didn’t realize it back then but this is the way the world works.
Investor William Buffet loves to talk about how there were once 2000 car companies at the beginning of the last century and now there are only 6. He talks about it as if it were a natural progression of things.
It is a natural outgrowth of crony capitalism and nepotism subsidized by to big to fail, to big to jail corporate welfare given by governments to the super rich.
And today, instead of running cocaine from Nicaragua they’re running heroin from Afghanistan. Same players at the top making bank, blah..blah..blah…
But in the middle things are different big-time.
The Music Industry as I knew it has ceased to exist along with the vultures and vermin who called it home. From the movies to newspapers traditional media is experiencing the same turmoil.
The Internet has changed the game forever and the ‘shitstem’ can’t keep up.
A New Wave is rising again. I feel it. The same feeling I felt in Chicago back in the day.
But the difference is we all smarter now. We get it.
9/11? Building 7?
Yeah, right. Whatever…
The air, the ground, the water and our food is filled with toxicity. And now we learn so is our music. Are we all being made sick for the profit of the few or is it just life in the Industrial age?
Doesn’t matter, really. Just funny thing is, what did France and America get from Germany as reparations after World War II?
We got Nazi pharmaceutical companies.lol!…
Regardless, no matter the reason we are all under a relentless attack and in a fight for our lives but only if we participate.
Time to groove to a New Vibration.
Tune in, Turn on, Drop out and follow the beat of your heart.
Because it’s from that vibration all good things can start.
Project 432 Paris.
-Life Is A Miracle