Selling Rap History: DJ Kool Herc’s gear and memorabilia up for auction on Christie’s

Written By: 
Randall Roberts
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

McIntosh, Technics, GLI, Acoustic Research, and more legendary gear and memorabilia from the godfather of rap, DJ Kool Herc.

Later this month the esteemed auction house Christie’s will be selling a batch of holy grails from the Man Who Started It All, DJ Kool Herc. Considered to be the godfather of rap, the Bronx DJ’s street parties starting in the early 1970s laid the foundations for hip hop.

DJ Kool Herc in the mid-1970s.

“When I started DJing back in the early ‘70s, it was just something that we were doing for fun. I came from ‘the people’s choice,’ from the street,” Herc wrote in Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, writer Jeff Chang’s essential hip hop history. “If the people like you, they will support you and your work will speak for itself. The parties I gave happened to catch on. They became a rite of passage for young people in the Bronx.”

He added, “I set down the blueprint, and all the architects started adding on this level and that level. Pretty soon, before we even knew it, it had started to evolve.”

That evolution, of course, continues. What also continues, though, is history’s reappraisal and evaluation of early artifacts from the uniquely American genre’s earliest years.

Starting Thursday, Christie’s will open bidding on what the auction house describes as “comprised of more than 150 lots of original vinyl records Herc spun in the 1970s, iconic turntables, speakers, and stereo equipment, clothing, one of the most extensive holdings of hip-hop fliers and posters in private hands, and dozens of Polaroids of parties, people and events at the very birth of a cultural movement that has transformed the world.”

The auction extends through Aug. 18 and features some amazing items. Below are some highlights.

From Christie’s: “Two flyers from the early parties at the Hevelow. Herc began expanding beyond the rec room parties at 1520 Sedgwick and nearby Cedar Park in 1975, hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas Parties at the Hevelow on Jerome Avenue near Burnside Avenue. These are some of the very few flyers in the collection to feature both Kool Herc and his first M.C., Coke La Rock.”

Estimate: $2,000-$3,000.

“The men’s Young CSA Fashion denim, collared vest with custom painted ‘Kool Herc’ lettering and portrait on back, button closure at front, size unlisted. Length at back 30 ½ in. (77.5 cm.)”

Estimate: $700-$900.

Christies: “An important collection of equipment assembled and used by Herc during the heyday of his career as a DJ. Following his purchase of the Acoustic PA System in 1973, he continued to build his sound system, adding additional components over the years. Perhaps the most significant early addition was GLI 3800 mixer, which replaced the eight-channel acoustic mixer, allowing Herc to more easily switch between his two turn tables (rather than using two hands to manually switch channels). The 300 Watt McIntosh amplifier provided sufficient power to fill a room, playground, basketball court or a park with sound–solidifying its reputation as one of the most dominant sound systems in the Bronx during the 1970s. Reminiscing years later, Herc recalled that ‘that thing cost a lot of money and pumped a lot of juice. It was 300 watts per channel. As the juice start coming man, the lights star dimming. And the turntables, I had the Technics 1100A, the big ones, so it wouldn’t turn.’ (Jeff Chang, 79).”

Estimate: $100,000-$150,000.

“A 12-inch disco ball from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.”

Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.

Christie’s: “Fifty-five LPs hand-selected by DJ Kool Herc. Curated from his personal collection of 1000s of vinyl and which he used repeatedly throughout the 1970s–1980s and chosen to represent the breadth of music that influenced his early DJ style. Including Simon and Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; The Beatles: The Magical Mystery Tour; Rolling Stones: Beggar’s Banquet; Stevie Wonder: Where I’m Coming From; James Brown: Hell; Isaac Hayes: Tough Guys and Billy Joel: Piano Man; Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run; Michael Jackson: Off the Wall; and others.”

Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

“The men’s size M, custom designed black bomber jacket with patch on front and large stitched ‘Beat Street’ inset on back, zipper front closure.
Length at back 25.5 in. (64.8 cm.)”

Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.

“A collection of nine 12” singles, all personal copies spun and some notated by DJ Kool Herc late 1970s–80s including James Brown: The Payback; Doug E. Fresh: The Original Human Beat Box; Biz Markie: Nobody Beats the Biz; and others.”

Estimate: $1,000-$1,500.

“A boom-box belt buckle owned and worn by DJ Kool Herc.”

Estimate: $100-$200.

“Ten singles hand-selected and spun by DJ Kool Herc beginning in early 1970s, including Three Dog Night: “Freedom for the Stallion”/,” Black& White”; The Staple Singers: “Love Comes in all Colors”/” If you’re ready (come go with me)”; and others.”

Estimate: $600-$800.

“The legendary Herculoids — DJ Kool Herc’s earliest surviving sound system.
A pair of Acoustic Research 804 speaker columns graced the rear seat of a white convertible that was the setting for a lengthy interview with Herc in the 1984 BBC documentary, Beat This! A Hip-Hop History. …

“… Herc got his startwith a Shure P.A. system that his father had purchased for a local rhythm and blues act he was sponsoring—and only secured the privilege of using it for hisown parties after he figured out how to rewire it to vastly expand the system’s power (in his words, “monster, monster!”). And with that, “Me and my father came to a mutual understanding that I would go with them and play between breaks and when I do my parties, I could use the set…. That’s when Cindy asked me to do a back-to-school party.” (Chang, pp. 69-70)

As the parties grew in popularity, Herc began investing in new equipment and this Acoustic P.A.system was his first major acquisition–purchased from Sam Ash Music on 48thStreet in late 1973 or early 1974. Like his father’s Sure P.A. system, it ha deight channels, which allowed for multiple microphones, but could pose a challenge when switching between records–a problem solved by the purchase of aGLI 3800 mixer with a slider to more easily transition between turntables (see lot 11).”

Estimate: $100,000-$150,000.

Got some spare change hanging around? You can view the whole auction at Christie’s website.

Related Articles

Sort By
12th Isle
2020
33rpm
45rpm
4AD
5 Selects
7"
99 Records
A&M
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Ace Tone
Acid
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid House
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Ginsberg
Alan Greenberg
Alan Thicke
Albert Ayler
Alice Coltrane
All Genre
Altec
Amazon Music
Ambient
Amoeba Music
Amplifier
Analog
Anatolian Rock
Andy Warhol
Animation
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Art
Art & Design
Art Dudley
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Artform Radio
Arthur Russell
Article
Ash Ra Temple
Audiogon
Audiophile
avant
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Avent-Garde
Balearic
Bali
Ballad
Bargain Bin
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bass
Bauhaus
Bayou Funk
BBC
BBC Radiophonic
Beats
Beats in Space
Bebop
Belgium
Bennie Maupin
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Beverly Glenn​-​Copeland
Bhutan Stamps
Big Band
Bill Laswell
Black Ark Studios
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Blues Rock
Bob Marley
Bola Sete
Bollywood
Boogie
books
Boredoms
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazil
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Bruton Music
Buddhism
Budget Audiophiler
Cabaret
Calypso
CAN
Canterbury
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Cartridges
Casio
Cassette
Cats
CD
Chamber Music
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Charles Lloyd
Charles Mingus
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Chillout
Choral
Christmas
City Pop
Classic Album Sundays
Classical
Classics
Clothing
Coctueau Twins
Coffee
Commercial
Community
Compass Point
Compilation
Concept Album
Condesa Electronics
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cornelius
Cosmic
Cosmic Disco
Cosmic Folk
Country
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
Daft Punk
Dance
Dancehall
Dark
Dark Entries
David Bowie
David Byrne
Davida
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Demo
Dennis Bovell
Denon
Detroit
Devotional
Diasporic Disco
Dick Verdult
Diggin in the Mags
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
DJ
Documentary
Don Buchla
Don Cherry
Donald Byrd
Doom Metal
Downtempo
Dowtempo
Dr. John
Dream House
Dream Pop
Dreamy
Drone
Drum Break
Drum Machine
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dual
Dub
Dub Poetry
dublab
Dubwise
Durutti Column
Düsseldorf School
Eames
Earl King
Early Electronic
East African
EBM
ECM
ecoustic
ecoustics
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Environmental Music
EOY
Eric Dolphy
ESG
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listen
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Event
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Factory Records
Fela Kuti
Festival
Field recording
Films
Fingertracks
Fingetracks
Fishing with John
Fleetwood Sound Company
Floating
Floating Points
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fonts
Fourth World
France
Free Improvisation
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Frippertronics
Fundraiser
Funk
Fusion
G.S. Schray
Gal Costa
Gamelan
Garage Rock
Garrard
Gems from the Dollar Bin
George Martin
Gifts
Gilberto Gil
Gogo
Gospel
Grado
Graphic Novel
Grateful Dead
Group Sounds
Guide
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Harp
Harry Nilsson
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
Henry Lewy
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Hidden Gem
Highlife
Hip Hop
Hiroshi Yoshimura
history
Holger Czukay
Holiday
Hollywood
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
Iasos
Ibiza
IDM
Illustration
Improvisation
Impulse!
In Conversation
India
Indian
Indian Classical
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
Ingmar Bergman
Installation
Instrumental
International
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Island Records
Isolation
Italo Disco
Italy
Jackie McLean
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japananese
Japanese
Jazz
jazz kissa
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Fahey
John Martyn
Jon Hassell
Joni Mitchell
Judee Sill
Jungle
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keith Haring
Keith Jarrett
Kid-Friendly
Kitty Records
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kompakt
Kosmiche
Kosmische
KPM
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Lafawndah
Lagniappe Sessions
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Laurie Spiegel
Leaving Records
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Library Music
Liquid Liquid
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovefingers
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Luaka Bop
Mad Professor
Marantz
Marcel Duchamp
Marcos Valle
mbaqanga
McIntosh
Meditation
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Melody As Truth
Meredith Monk
Metal
Michael Franks
Mid-Century
Miles Davis
Milford Graves
Mills College
Minako Yoshida
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mixtape
Mizell Brothers
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs
Modal
Modern Classical
Modular Synthesis
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
MTV
Munich
Music Blog
Music from Memory
Music Interior
Music Therapy
Music Video
Mwandishi
Narrative
Neptunes
New Age
New Music
New Wave
New York
News
Nico
Nina Simone
No Wave
Noise
Non-Profit
Northern Soul
Now Sound
NTS
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
Numero Group
NYC
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
On Screen
On-U Sound
online radio
Opera
Organic
Organic Music
Ornette Coleman
Ortofon
Oswalds Mill Audio
Outsider Pop
Overtone Singing
Painting
Painting with John
Pandit Pran Nath
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
Paul Horn
Paul McCartney
Pauline Oliveros
PBS
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Pensive
Percussion
Pharoah Sanders
Phillip Glass
Piano
Pioneer
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Plinth
Podcast
Political
Pop
Pop not Slop
Pop Rock
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Post-Rock
Power Pop
Premiere
Prince
Private Press
Producer
Productions
Professor Longhair
Prog Rock
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Psychedelic
Psychedelic Rock
Psyhedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
Quiet Storm
R&B
Radio
Raga
Rare Groove
rca victor
Receivers
Record Fair
Record Label
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reggaeton
Reissue
Reissues
Releases
Religious
Remix
Retrospective
Rock
Rocksteady
Roland
Roland Kirk
Roller Skate
Room Recordings
Room Treatment
Roots Reggae
Rotary Mixers
Rough Trade
Rudy Van Gelder
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakmoto
Sacred
Sade
Sam Gendel
Samba
Samples
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Seefeel
Sensual
Shamisen
share
Shibuya-kei
Shoegaze
Singer-Songwriter
Sisters with Transistors
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Solid State
Songwriting
Sonny Sharrock
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Sound Installation
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South Africa
South African
South America
Space Rock
Speaker
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Steely Dan
Stereolab
Stereophile
Steven Halpern
Stevie Wonder
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Stories
Streaming
Street Soul
Studio One
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Susumu Yokota
Suzanne Cianni
Suzanne Kraft
Swamp Rock
SYNG
Synth
Synth Pop
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tape
Tapes
TD-160
Techno
Techno Pop
Television
Terry Callier
Terry Riley
The Beatles
The Broad
The Loft
The Meters
The Mizell Brothers
The Music Center
The World Stage
Theater
Thelonious Monk
Third Side Music
Third Stream
This Mortal Coil
Thorens
Tim Sweeney
Too Pure Records
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Tribal
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Tuareg
Tube
Turntable
TV
UK
Underrated
Val Wilmer
Vandersteen
Vanity Fair
Velvet Underground
Vice
Video
Vince Guaraldi
Vintage
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Virginia Astley
Visible Cloaks
Visual Art
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Wally Badarou
Water
Website
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
World
Wrecking Crew
Yacht Rock
Yamaha
Yasuaki Shimizu
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
Zither
ISCHiFi ((ROOM RECORDING))
0:00 / 0:00
0:00
0:00