The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. A Chance For Peace. Soul And Soledad. The Universal Truth. Today marks the historic return of one of our all-time favorite independent […]
Selling Rap History: DJ Kool Herc’s gear and memorabilia up for auction on Christie’s
- Hip Hop /
- News /
- Vintage Gear
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.
“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.”
“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.)”
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).”
“A 12-inch disco ball from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.”
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.”
“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.)”
“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.”
“A boom-box belt buckle owned and worn by DJ Kool Herc.”
“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.”
“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).”
Got some spare change hanging around? You can view the whole auction at Christie’s website.
The massive set features new music by Nick Cave, Blake Mills, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Seu Jorge, Sam Gendel, Sam Wilkes and dozens more Listen to the birds. That’s […]
Ecoustics’ Eric Pye shares his experience with a stunning direct drive turntable. Back in 2021, I wrote about what attracts me to Vintage Audio. I discussed several factors, like style, […]
The definitive documentary of one of our favorite singer-songwriters is streaming until March 1st. Don’t miss! It’s hard to pin down where to start with an artist that […]
Join us for the Moonface Experience on March 11th at XTR Studios, with music and sound curated by In Sheep’s Clothing. If you visited the In Sheep’s Clothing […]
From the 1950s through the 1980s, the home audio explosion was documented in real time. Online archives have digitized the bounty. It’s true. Those wanting to better understand […]