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Ron Hardy

Related: DJ - house music - Music Box (nightclub)

Unidentified photograph of Ron Hardy

Biography

Ron Hardy was the DJ of Chicago club the Muzic Box, which opened in 1983. He was instrumental in the development of House music (c. 1984).

Robert Williams owned the club, but the driving force was a DJ, Ron Hardy. Hardy always opened his set with "Welcome to the Pleasure Dome" but the chief characteristics of the club's sound were sheer massive volume and an increased pace to the tunes. The volume is self-explanatory, the pace was apparently the result of Hardy's heroin use. The club also played a wider range of music than just disco. Groups such as Kraftwerk and Blondie were well received, as was a brief flirtation with punk; dances like "Punking-Out" or "Jacking" being very popular. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Hardy [Mar 2004]

Profile

House pioneer Ron Hardy began DJing at the Chicago club Den One in 1974, playing records and splicing reel-to-reel tape together. He and fellow revolutionary Frankie Knuckles later began DJing at the Warehouse, mixing in disco tracks to effect a continuous music mix, later called the birth of house. Just as the movement gained momentum, Hardy moved to Los Angeles, only returning after Knuckles had become the name associated with house. His residency at a new club, Muzic Box, was marred by a drug habit; five years after leaving the club [1986/1987?], Hardy died in 1991. -- John Bush, All-Music Guide

Eyewitness Account

What would you like to know? As far as being intense, that's an understatement...lol. Drugs in the extreme? I remember once standing directly next to him in the booth for about 4 minutes while I thought I was giving him time to do something on the boards. Come to find out, he didn't even know I was standing there. Doing $500+ worth of heroin in one night is more than extreme.

In terms of his playlist, it was very, very broad. Much like the Andre Hatchett of the old days, he played music from all genres. I mean you might hear him play "Walk The Dog" by Laurie Anderson (some real odd isht), Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" and so much JBs & steppin' music that I thought he was folks (a Chicago/Detroit thing). He played more angry new-wave and electronic-oriented cuts like (sp?) Rinder & Lewis' "Anger" and "The Jezebel Spirit" by Brian Eno.

He was also big on playing what was good and new at the time: Sade's "Maureen" and "Never As Good As The First Time", "Saturday Love" by Cherelle & Alex O'Neal, The Temptations' "Take A Stroll Through Your Mind", "Lyte As A Rock" remix (MC Lyte), "Paid In Full" Remix (Eric B & Rakim) and the list goes on and on...

The brotha was very, very eclectic in musical tastes. As a matter of fact, when I was record shopping with Ron, he urged me to buy a LP by John Tropea who at that time I hadn't heard of.

It's funny cuz I remember the first time Ron heard "It's House"...lol. Avery (another Muzik Box employee) and I were hanging decorations on the dancefloor for a marathon we were having and Ron was in the booth checking out some tunes that he just got. He put it on and not 15 seconds later, "It's House" comes flying past our heads! "What the f*ck is that bullshit?", he said while we laughed our asses off. I had already heard it at Chip E's house not too long before and I warned him that it was stupid as hell...lol. Later on, he thought about it some more and next thing I know he reworked the song by playing it backwards, something he is FAMOUS for, truly a Hardy trademark.

It's funny to me when I hear all these cats talk about they're strictly disco and how Ron influenced them and all that BS, but if they really knew Ron's music, they'd know he was very eclectic in taste and did not limit himself in terms of what he played. Those are the same cats that only play isht with a 200-piece orchestra and believe that if it's made in the 70's, it's gotta be a cut. I use to request certain records for Ron to play and sometimes he'd just say, "Yeah, that is a cut, but the kids aren't ready." Now I know what he meant. I know for a fact that if Ron were alive today, he'd be bumpin' a lot of acid jazz and underground hip-hop.

Peace, prosperity & paper,
VERBz

in rotation:

http://profiles.yahoo.com/verbalherbal on http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/discoclassics

Godfather of Chicago House Music

Ron Hardy is the only man who can test Frankie Knuckles' status as the godfather of Chicago house music.Though he never recorded under his own name and left little evidence of his life, Hardy was the major name for Chicago dance music from the late '70s to the mid-'80s. By 1974, he had already effected a continuous music mix with reel-to-reel machines plus a dual-turntable setup at the club Den One. Several years later, Hardy played with Knuckles at a club called the Warehouse and though he spent several years in Los Angeles, he later returned to Chicago to open his own club, the Music Box. While Knuckles was translating disco and the emerging house music to a straight, southside audience at the Power Plant, Hardy's 72-hour mix sessions and flamboyant party lifestyle fit in well with the uptown, mostly gay audience at the Music Box. A roll-call of major Chicago producers including Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard, Adonis, Phuture's DJ Pierre and Chip E all debuted their compositions by pressing up acetates or reel-to-reel copies for Hardy to play during the mid-'80s. Lingering problems with heroin addiction forced him to leave the Music Box around 1986 and though he continued to DJ around the area, Hardy wasn't around when Chicago became house music's mecca later in the decade. He died in 1991.

"The difference between Frankie and Ronnie was that people weren't making records when Frankie was playing, though all the guys who would become the next DJs were there checking him out. It was The Music Box that really inspired people." [...] --Phil Cheeseman

The Music Box [...]

1986: While Frankie Knuckles had laid the groundwork for house at the Warehouse, it was to be another DJ from the gay scene that was really to create the environment for the house explosion - Ron Hardy. Where Knuckles' sound was still very much based in disco, Hardy was the DJ that went for the rawest, wildest rhythm tracks he could find and he made The Music Box the inspirational temple for pretty much every DJ and producer that was to come out of the Chicago scene. He was also the DJ to whom the producers took their very latest tracks so they could test the reaction on the dance floor.

"People would bring their tracks on tape and the DJ would play spin them in. It was part of the ritual, you'd take the tape and see the crowd reaction. I never got the chance to take my own stuff because Robert Owens would always get there first."

"The Music Box was underground " remembers Adonis. "You could go there in the middle of the winter and it'd be as hot as hell, people would be walking around with their shirts off. Ron Hardy had so much power people would be praising his name while he was playing, and I've got the tapes to prove it!

Art

Adonis on Ron Hardy: "When Ron played, he played to take you some place. he didn't play just because he had a record that everybody liked, and he didn't play just to make some money. For him it was a way of life, it was an art form, ..."

  • Phil Cheeseman: "Ron Hardy, who was to become the backbone of the Chicago club scene by consistently breaking the new records, began playing at The Muzic Box around the same time [1983/84] as Frankie Knuckles left The Warehouse, and other DJs like Farley and the Hot Mix 5 who threw down the mix shows on the radio station WBMX were making names for themselves." (Before 1985)

    Le Mirage

  • Ron Hardy also played La Mirage, Farley Keith's club, says DJ Pierre.

    Knuckles and Hardy

    Knuckles moved to another new venture in 1983, The Power Plant, which is situated on the north side of the city, and already a scene was beginning to emerge. Shortly after the opening of The Power Plant, Ron Hardy, who had begun DJing at Den One in 1974 then moved to LA for a spell, took over the decks at The Music Box on the south side. He pioneered a different sound to Knuckles; Hardy's mix of disco, European electronica, industrial and alternative sounds was spiced with tape edits which he would manipulate and pause by hand. The Music Box became known as a rougher, wilder and more hedonistic alternative to Knuckles' sophisticated mixes and it was here that the straight black crowds from the south side caught the bug.

    Hardy is credited by some as the ultimate creative DJ, an innovator in the way he read the dancefloor, made it his own and defined a style of music into the bargain. He was certainly dedicated - a true party animal, he was known to live his life from his DJ booth, sleeping there and spending the days practising his craft.

    As the friendly rivalry between Knuckles and Hardy developed, other DJs began to push the sound, like Wayne Williams, Steve Hurley and Farley Keith Williams. Then there was Jesse Saunders, who spun at Chicago's other major house club, The Playground. Jesse, who had musical training, was constantly searching for gimmicks with which to further his name as a DJ and had taken to creating his own drum machine tracks to play from tape. He went into the studio with the idea of recreating an obscure disco bootleg, the name of which he says escapes him. But which also turned out to be the first House record...[...]

    Phuture "Acid Tracks"

    15) Phuture "Acid Tracks" (Trax 1987)(12")
    When Marshall Jefferson, DJ Pierre and Spanky pissed about with a then defunct, cheap bass synthesiser and came up with this burbling, idiotic, weird sound, they thought it sounded like acid rock. Hence the title of the tape they handed to DJ Ron Hardy at The Music Box in Chicago. Within a couple of weeks they had the hottest record in Chicago. Within a year the sound they had created had become the rallying cry of a brand new youth movement - acid house. - Mixmag

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