Tony Humphries

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Tony Humphries


What we now call garage is music which has evolved from the more soulful, more gospel-inspired parts of disco and it owes its emergence to the taste-making of DJ Tony Humphries at his club Zanzibar in Newark, New Jersey.

A Profile

Humphries has entertained dance music fans across the globe with his brand of  uptempo soul music. This Brooklyn, New York native landed his first "professional" DJ gig at Manhattan's posh Club El Morocco in 1975.  From there Tony's trek to Boystown a.k.a. Club Tribeca  NY, NY would prove successful, where he was then recognized as a talented DJ.

In July 1981, producer Shep Pettibone asked Tony for a mastermix show tape to fill in for a no show on his KISS-FM NY radio show.   A vacancy left by Pettibone at the station opened the door for his own permanent mix show. Simultaneously, schooled under the "I'll-leave-you-in-the-booth-and-see-what-happens" antics of resident DJ Larry Patterson of NJ's Club Zanzibar fame, resulted in him gaining "THE" residency in 1982.

Developing his creative experiences behind the recording studio's control board only enhanced his style and magic.  Artists like Mtume (Tonys' first gold record  "Juicy Fruit"), Chaka Khan, Karen White,  Regina Belle, Donna Summer, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and The Cover Girls were all governed by the "Humphries handicraft".

By the mid to late 80's, Tony became the sole helmsman weaving the tunes three nights a week, thus making dance music superstars out of local talent embedded in the heartland of Newark and her surrounding areas. Summoned across the Atlantic by the British in 1987.  The "Jersey Sound" was coined by their press. In addition to traveling, remix projects mounting,  pumping out a weekly radio mix show, and holding down the fort at the club, Tony was in his prime making the world of dance music exciting, hip, and refreshing.

By November 1990, his 8 year tenure ended with a tearful refrain, but this didn't discourage Tony as he became in demand worldwide and relocated to London, England.  In January of 1993, Tony took up the offer to be the resident jock at the Ministry of Sound club. That year was rounded off with a residency at "Echoes" in Rimini, Italy.  This Italian residency continued for 4 years while simultaneously relocating back in NJ to launch his Yellorange Production Co.

It can be said that Tony Humphries has  left an unerasable impression on the global dance music industry.  To date over 300 venues he has gigged worldwide, done over 200 studio remixes, the latest being Jxnet Jackson's hit "Together Again". Throughout tremendous recognition, tons of awards and accolades from his peers, he has remained humble. 


In 1981, Tony Humphries gained radio access on New York's Kiss FM, after Shep Pettibone heard his demo cassette. His break as a live DJ was offered in the same year by Larry Patterson. Previously he had been a mobile jock and worked for the New York Daily newspaper. Patterson gave him his opportunity at the Zanzibar club which became New Jersey's premier nightspot.

Tony Humphries, who'd been on New York's Kiss FM since 1981 and at the Zanzibar in New Jersey since 1982, was to become instrumental in exposing the Jersey sound. Though he was one of more open-minded DJ's In the New York area, his was the style that married real r'n'b based dance to house.

The UK discovers Garage

To most New Yorkers and Jerseyites, garage was what was played at the Paradise Garage, which had closed in 1987. What they were making was club music or dance music, and house was all that track stuff from Chicago. But they were happy that someone somewhere was getting off on their sound. Tony Humphries, who'd been on New York's Kiss FM since 1981 and at the Zanzibar in New Jersey since 1982, was to become instrumental in exposing the Jersey sound. Though he was one of more open-minded DJ's In the New York area, his was the style that married real r'n'b based dance to house.

"I really saw house start with the Virgo 1 record, which had that 'Love Is The Message' skip beat, and I was using that and a lot of other Chicago stuff as filler between the vocals, so if I was to play Jean Carne I would use the Virgo drum track before it. Vocals was always very much my thing, and I would say the people from Chicago we really respected in Jersey were Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles and JM Silk. A lot of it was really Philly elements, it was like Philly living on forever, and that was our flavor. "I became known for breaking new stuff, and to stay ahead of everyone I had to come up with more and more demos. I wanted to help all the people around me in Jersey, so around 88-89 I did a huge showcase with all the acts at Zanzibar first on my birthday and then at the New Music Seminar. Suddenly everyone was talking about the Jersey sound."

Blaze were the forerunners of the new soul vision, followed by their proteges Phase II, who struck big with the optimism anthem 'Reachin', and Hippie Torrales' Turntable Orchestra with 'You're Gonna Miss Me'. Then there were the girls - Vicky Martin with 'Not Gonna Do It' and of course, Adeva, behind whom was the talented Smack Productions team. ' In And Out 0f My Life' had already been released by Easy Street a year before, but when Cooltempo signed the Jersey wailer up on the basis of her cover of Aretha Franklin's 'Respect', mainstream success was more than on the cards - it was a dead cert. 'Respect' entered the Top 40 in January and hung around for two months, by which time Chanelle's 'One Man' and then her own collaboration with Paul Simpson, 'Musical Freedom' had followed the example. It didn't end there. Jomanda, who shared the billing with Tony Humphries at a massive event stage in Brixton's Academy were next with 'Make My Body Rock', and though they were to become successful in the States, their sound never crossed over in the UK. - Phil Cheeseman

Selected Discography

  1. Ma Foom Bay
  2. "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life"
  3. Roundtree - Hit on You (Mix by Tony Humpries 1982 ARIA)

Links New netshows every week of soulful house music. Bio


  • United DJs of America, Vol. 18: DJ Tony Humphries [1CD, Amazon US]
    1. Can't Fake The Feeling - Applefunk feat. Alexis 2. Little Girl - Viola 3. Rescue Me - Sunkids feat. Chance 4. Never Knew - Blvd. East feat. Da Familee 5. Everything - Stephanie Cooke 6. Caves Of Altamira - E Man 7. Rise Up - Sunkids feat. Chance 8. Wonderful People - Dennis Freerer Presents Anthony Flanagan 9. Ain't Nithin' - Who's That? feat. Jackie Kemp 10. Could It Be You - Mazi feat. Donna Blakely 11. All The Things U R - 7th District Inc. feat. Janine Cross 12. Painkiller 2001 - Alliance DC 13. You Will Survive - Bobby & Steve Present Johnnie Fiori
  • Tony Humphries - Choice - A Collection of Club Zanzibar Classics [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    CD 1 01. Mass Production – Welcome To Our World 02. Hamilton Bohannon – Me And The Gang 03. Tongue ‘n’ Cheek – Tomorrow 04. Tyree – Hard Core Hip-House 05. Martha Wash & Todd Terry – Carry On (Tee’s Crazy Mix) 06. The Blackbyrds – City Life 07. Massimo Barsotti – Whole Lotta Love 08. Swing 52 – Color Of My Skin (Swing Remix) 09. Deodato ft. Camille – Are You For Real 10. Peter Godwin – Emotional Disguise 11. Stephanie Mills – You Can Get Over 12. Cher – Take Me Home (12” version) CD 2 01. LY – Back 2 Zanzibar (King Street Mix) 02. Sinnamon – I Need You Now (Tee’s Master Extended Mix) 03. Gypsymen – Hear The Music 04. Pointer Sisters – Happiness 05. Heaven And Earth – I Only Have Eyes For You 06. Happyhead – Digital Love Thing (LP Version) 07. Liquid Liquid – Optimo 08. Jimmy Castor Bunch – It’s Just Begun 09. CJ & Co. – Sure Can’t Go To The Moon 10. Mark IV – It’s A Mean World 11. Psychotropic – Hypnosis 12. Phalon – Dance Floor Of Life 13. Archie Bell And The Drells – Where Will You Go When The Party’s Over

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