This is an important conversation where Hip Hop pioneer Grand Wizzard Theodore speaks for himself and explains the origins of the Scratch.. Up to that point, many had come to believe that Theodore was trained by Grandmaster Flash who started off in a crew called the L-Brothers (L=Livingston which is Theodore’s last name). I recall interviewing Flash back in 1996 at length and he broke all this down..noting that Theodore was his student..
I ran into Theodore a few months later and he was livid and said that the story was absolutely not true.. Back then he explained as he does in the interview below, how he came into his own.. GM Flash to my knowledge hasn’t retracted the story, so those two will have to sort it out..
Here’s a excerpts from a 2005 interview w/ Troy Smith of Tha Foundation
TS: I read in an article that Gene originally didn’t want you to DJ, you ended up having to sneak it to do it. Flash put you on to it. Flash showed you how to do it?
GWT: Gene and Flash were down together and people were trying to say that Flash taught me. I taught myself how to DJ. Nobody taught me how to DJ. The only thing Flash taught me was, you know, there are so many different mixers out there..you have to know how to turn the mixer on, turn the mixer off..,this is this cross fader, for that turntable, this cross fader for that turntable..these are the ear phones.. that’s about it. He never sat me down and said, “O.K. This is how you mix these two records together. It was nothing, never like that. All the skills that I have I taught myself. Nobody taught me all the skills that I have. That is why my style is like no other. If anything, Flash taught me – this is the left turntable, this is the right turntable, this is the mixer, this is that for the mixer, and this is that for the mixer – but I pretty much knew all that already, just by watching.
TS: Your brothers were already doing this before Flash even came to your house, didn’t Flash stay at your house for a minute as well?
GWT: Flash was down from day one with Gene. Flash couldn’t keep the equipment at his house, so the equipment was at my mom’s house. Flash was able to come any time he wanted to DJ. If he came and he stayed till 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, he had a room were he could just stretch out. My moms was like,”You can come and go as you please.”
Below Theodore speaks for himself..
Theodore shows off his patented Needle drop technique
A classic cut that captures the essence of Theodore from back in the days
The other unintended story that needed to be put to rest was Theodore spilling beer on a turntable and inventing the scratch while wiping the record clean.. This came about after a humorous Heineken commercial aired a few years back depicting that. It was part of a series of commercials the beer company did where they fictionalized how the accidents around the beer created the Peace sign, the Lighter, the scratch etc.. Unfortunately because there had been so much historical distortion around the legacy of Theodore, many didn’t find the humor in the commercial resulting in an open letter and protest to the beer company.