David Corio

Grandmaster Flash

The Venue, London, UK
(May 12, 1982)

This was the first hip hop show to come to British shores and the sold out crowd didn’t really know what to expect. On the stage there were no instruments just microphones for the Furious Five MC’s, and a raised stage with two decks where Grandmaster Flash performed his turntable wizardry. All of them were wearing matching red and black leather outfits and the Furious Five performed perfectly choreographed dance moves. Having grown up with punk and new wave music this was a radical departure. ‘The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash & The Wheels Of Steel’ had got exposure on a few pirate radio stations and was just beginning to hit the mainstream but it still seemed like a revolutionary new sound compared to New Romantic music which was on the wane. Hearing familiar sound clips used as break beats, scratched and sampled into other rhythms was completely different. Few people had ever heard anyone rap before unless they were familiar with the Last Poets or Gil Scott Heron who had been early influences on the hip hop scene.

The line-up of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five broke up after disagreements over royalties with their label Sugar Hill Records. ‘The Message’ came out around the time of this show and was to become a platinum hit but Melle Mel was the only band member to perform on the recording of the single. Grandmaster Flash has gone on to produce his own clothing line ‘G.Phyre’, write a memoir ‘The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life My Beats’ and continues to dj in clubs and on a weekly radio show. Although not the earliest turntablist his influence is still felt to this day.

Grandmaster Flash