In 1935, American commentator Walter Winchell coined the term "disc jockey" (the combination of "disc", referring to the disc records, and "jockey", which is an operator of a machine) as a description of radio announcer Martin Block, the first announcer to become a star. While his audience was awaiting developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping, Block played records and created the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom, with the nation's top dance bands performing live. The show, which he called Make Believe Ballroom, was an instant hit. The term "disc jockey" appeared in print in Variety in 1941.
In 1943, Jimmy Savile launched the world's first DJ dance party by playing jazz records in the upstairs function room of the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherd's in Otley, England. In 1947, he became the first DJ to use twin turntables for continuous play. In 1947, the Whiskey à Go-Go nightclub opened in Paris, France, considered to be the world's first discothèque, or disco (deriving its name from the French word, meaning a nightclub where the featured entertainment is recorded music rather than an on-stage band). Discos began appearing across Europe and the United States. From the late 1940s to early 1950s, the introduction of television eroded the popularity of radio's early format, causing it to take on the general form it has today, with a strong focus on music, news and sports.
In the 1950s, American radio DJs would appear live at "sock hops" and "platter parties" and assume the role of a human jukebox. They would usually play 45-rpm records featuring hit singles on one turntable, while talking between songs. In some cases, a live drummer was hired to play beats between songs to maintain the dance floor. In 1955 Bob Casey, a well-known "sock hop" DJ, introduced the first two-turntable system for alternating back and forth between records, creating a continuous playback of music. Throughout the 1950s, payola payments by record companies to DJs in return for airplay was an ongoing problem. Part of the fallout from the payola scandal was tighter control of the music by station management. The Top 40 format emerged, where popular songs are played repeatedly.
In the late 1950s, sound systems, a new form of public entertainment, are developed in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. Promoters, who called themselves DJs, would throw large parties in the streets that centered on the disc jockey, called the "selector," who played dance music from large, loud PA systems and bantered over the music with a boastful, rhythmic chanting style called "toasting." These parties quickly became profitable for the promoters, who would sell admission, food and alcohol, leading to fierce competition between DJs for the biggest sound systems and newest records.
In the mid-1960s, nightclubs and discotheques continued to grow in Europe and the United States. Specialized DJ equipment such as Rudy Bozak's classic CMA-10-2DL mixer began to appear on the market. In 1969, American club DJ Francis Grasso popularized beatmatching at New York's Sanctuary nightclub. Beatmatching is the technique of creating seamless transitions between back-to-back records with matching beats, or tempos. Grasso also developed slip-cueing, the technique of holding a record still while the turntable is revolving underneath, releasing it at the desired moment to create a sudden transition from the previous record.
By 1968, the number of dance clubs started to decline; most American clubs either closed or were transformed into clubs featuring live bands. Neighborhood block parties that were modeled after Jamaican sound systems gained popularity in Europe and in the boroughs of New York City.
During the early 1970s, the economic downturn led most of the dance clubs to become underground gay discos. In 1973, Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, widely regarded as the "godfather of hip hop culture", performed at block parties in his Bronx neighborhood and developed a...
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