DJ PIERRE BIOGRAPHY
DJ Pierre can be considered one of the “founding fathers” of Acid House for his role in the development of the genre, specifically by being a member of Phuture, who released the 1987 E.P. Acid Trax which is considered by many to be the birth of Acid House.
DJ Pierre’s real name is Nathaniel Pierre Jones and his recording names include DJ Pierre, Phuture, Phuture Phantasy Club, Pierre’s Pfantasy Club, Photon Inc. He was born in the suburbs of Chicago.
Along two other artists (friends) known as Spanky (Earl Smith Jr –founder/technical producer) and Herb J (Herbert R Jackson Jr – keyboards) he formed “Phuture” and together they accidentally discovered/invented the acid house noise referred to as “squelch”.
Whilst trying to find out how to use the Roland TB-303 bass line synthesizer machine they had purchased they came out with the squelch sound that is the essential component for a track to be classed as Acid House.
The three were inspired by the new House Music revolution that had emerged from their home town Chicago’s mid 1980’s scene where the Hot Mix 5 artists (Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Ralphi “The Razz” Rosario, Kenny “Jammin” Jason, Mickey “Mixin” Oliver and Scott “Smokin” Seals) were churning out hit after hit over the airwaves and tape and vinyl. Frankie Knuckles was DJing and the Warehouse club (where House Music is widely acknowledged to derive its name).
Pierre and Spanky had been to the legendary Chicago DJ Ron Hardy’s club called Music Box. The first Acid House track they recorded was ‘Acid Tracks’ (renamed by Ron Hardy from its original title ‘In Your Mind’). A slow burning, bassy, heavy, deep, unrelenting record that plays for eleven minutes and seventeen seconds.
Their first track was put on tape and first played in the Music Box in 1985 or 1986. From the overwhelming enthusiastic response from Ron Hardy (playing it several times on its first night) and (eventually) the crowd, it was rerecorded at Trax Records (produced by Marshall Jefferson) and released in 1986 being the best selling house track up to that time.
From this adulation DJ Pierre went on to record a good percentage of the first Acid House tracks on Trax Records under the names Phuture, Phuture Pfantasy Club, Pierre’s Pfantasy Club (with Felix Da Housecat), Phortune with notable underground hits such as Your Only Friend (Cocaine), The Creator, String Free, Got The Bug, Box Energy, Dream Girl, Mystery Girl, Fantasy Girl, We Are Phuture, Slam and Spank Spank.
So the Acid House style was created by DJ Pierre and co. One of the tracks has a voice proclaiming “We are The Creator of Acid Music and we’re back.” But apparently the term Acid was probably coined by Ron Hardy.
DJ Pierre always maintained that he was anti drugs and the track ‘Your Only Friend’ is most definitely has a very strong anti drugs message. Ron Hardy however was a well known party animal and drug user and perhaps the name acid was used as an LSD reference. Acid House is a very repetitive, hypnotic and trance-like music form which has a decidedly hypnotic, transcendental, psychedelic feel to it (most Acid House tracks would not have conventional lyrics on them but were either purely instrumental or only had samples/spoken rather than sung wording).
Later as Acid House became more and more popular and successful with clubbers and ravers it inevitably became commercial leading to many copycat tracks that jumped on the bandwagon and had Acid House remixes as well as many recordings claiming to be acid house which weren’t. For example D-Mob We Call It Aceiid. This song seemed to kill the credibility of Acid House with one swift blow.
Acid House is the first true discernible offspring genre of House Music. (It even had its own dance called Trance Dance where arms held up in the air and are waved in time to the music either alternatively up and down, side to side like an orchestra conductor or swirling around mid air in front whilst the feet are jerked forward one at a time). It triggered the Rave phenomenon in the UK and the Acid House/Rave/M25 Orbital Parties including the 1989 Second Summer of Love and all its media hysteria in the UK (along with House / Hip House / Garage /Balearic genres that came shortly after it).
Whilst Acid House was initially a relatively short lived House trend (from 1986 in Chicago and 1987 in UK to its demise in 1989/90), it first signified the ability of House to carry on through developing, experimenting, morphing and reacting rather than stagnating. Acid House is what initially kept House as a broad church alive and provided momentum for the House movement. Chicago House was perhaps running out of steam by the late 1980s and so the quick succession from House to Acid House kept it fresh and encouraged new House genres we know to emerge and flourish. This was all created by DJ Pierre’s accidental style of House and Ron Hardy’s brand naming it as Acid. The rest is history. So DJ Pierre’s contribution was to innovate House and protect it by allowing it to change – even if this was an accident.
Due to the notorious unfair contracts and deals given to the innocent DJ Pierre and other Chicago House artists, none of them owned their own copyrights. None of them realised that the music they were producing was been exported and licensed overseas where in gained its first foothold in Manchester, Nottingham and the north of England before spreading at a phenomenal rate south and going pan European and then global. Not realising how the whole Chicago House scene was infecting the world so rapidly, no groundbreaking artists made money from royalties as their whole world at the time was confined the hothouse energy of Chicago itself.
DJ Pierre moved from Chicago where the House Music scene was slowing down and joined (among other labels) Strictly Rhythm records in 1990 where he was also briefly A&R manager. At this time he also went to the UK for his first visit overseas to witness how the house and acid house movement had proliferated and become so popular outside of the USA.
Other hits he released since leaving Chicago include Generate Power by Photon Inc, Follow Me by Aly Us, and The Horn Song Featuring Barbara Tucker.
He is still DJing and producing at time of writing December 2005.
Chicago’s own Trax Records website says that House is “the biggest movement in club music since the dawn of Disco”. But for its overall globalisation (through accompanying advances in technology affordable to youth) and its longevity, House is probably more significant than Disco. Although Disco (along with other music types such as blues, jazz, soul, funk, rap, pop and electronica) is directly part of House’s parentage. Some social observers have commented that the House movement is the biggest cultural phenomenon since Punk. But again Punk was relatively short lived from 1976 to 1980 before it became passé, compared to House that is still going strong since its birth in the mid 1980’s. While punk appealed mainly to white, lower and middle classes, House’s appeal is undeniably more far reaching and Catholic. Twenty years after the start of Punk, the name was already a joke and meant nothing to youth of the 1990s apart from a historical event or a general term of derision – certainly not cool. House decades after its dawn is still going on and being played in clubs, on the radio and used by mainstream pop artists. Only time will tell the verdict. But DJ Pierre by creating Acid House is certainly one of the pivotal individuals responsible for spreading House’s immense scope.