The living legend Marshall Jefferson takes the time to answer how "House Music National Anthem" (the first house track to feature pianos) came about:
I heard it in my head on my job at the Post Office, but with female vocals, and different words. I got home and did the piano, bass and drums. I thought it was hot as hell, and booked a session at Lito Manlucu's studio. Called up my buddies from the Post Office (Curtis McClain, Rudy Forbes, Thomas Carr) wrote the verse and the backgrounds in the studio. Recording and mixing time was about 3 hours total. They thought it sucked. I thought it was the hottest shit the dancefloor would ever hear, but I have quite the ego.
The night, I took the song 1st to the Sheba Baby club, where Mike Dunn, Tyree Cooper, and Hugo Hutchinson were DJ'ing. This was before they all had records out, and I was known as Virgo. (loved that nickname!) They loved the song and I gave them a cassette copy, but they said it wasn't House music because of the piano. From there i drove to the Music Box to give Ron Hardy a copy. Outside in the car i played it on my car system for some friends (One was K-Alexi) and I don't think they were too impressed. I'd had about 15 unreleased songs playing in the Music Box at that time and they thought some of my other stuff was much hotter. They also said it wasn't House Music because of the piano.
After that, I went into the Music Box and gave DJ Ron Hardy a copy while he was playing. I didn't expect him to play it right away; usually i just gave him a copy and he'd listen to it later and maybe play it the next weekend. This time he put it in the cassette machine right away. I saw his head quickly go into a violent bobbing motion and I knew he liked the song. He immediately put it on and played it 6 times in a row, putting on a sound effects record while he rewound the tape.
From there it got to be the biggest song in the Music Box. Ron told me not to give it to anybody else, and I held off for awhile, but there were other DJ's in the city that wanted it and finally I gave in when Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy's biggest rival got a copy of it. Prior to that,I took it to Trax Records to press it up on my own label. At that time Larry Sherman, the owner, considered himself a House music expert because he'd previously put out Jesse Saunders stuff and also 4 of my records. He hated the song and said it wasn't House music because of the piano. I didn't care and paid him to press the record up.
13 months passed before he finally pressed it up, but there were some things that happened before that......................
After Frankie Knuckles got a copy of it, it seemed the flood gates opened. I had to give Lil Louis and Fast Eddie copies, because Eddie lived 2 doors down from me on my block and Lil Louis lived on the next block. Mike Dunn, Tyree Cooper, and Hugo Hutchinson already had copies. Pretty soon it seemed like every DJ in Chicago had copies................some really bad and some passable, but crowds freaked every time it came on.
International DJ's played it to and this is how I tracked down how they got copies, after talking to the DJ's and members of the press:
1. Frankie Knuckies got his copy from my friend Sleezy D.
2. Frankie Knuckles' best friend was Larry Levan from New York's Paradise Garage. At that time, DJ's from all over the world would fly to New York to hear what Larry played, because whatever was popular there became hits.
3. Somehow DJ Alfredo from Ibiza got a copy of it, and started playing it in Ibiza.
4. English DJ's Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, and Jazzy M got copies. Pete Tong and Paul "Trouble" Anderson got copies too, but I'm not sure if they got it at the same time as the 1st 3 or not.
5. Once the English DJ's started playing, things got weird, because the press got involved. England was quick to jump on a new music trend and got on it right away. "Move Your Body" had the words "Gotta have House music, all night long", and with that "House" music, you can't go wrong!" so naturally, the next task was finding out what house music was and getting the full scoop.
I started hearing English accents asking me for interviews when I answered the phone. I thought it was my friends screwing with me, but damn, those accents sounded authentic. I did a few phone interviews and suddenly, a whole herd of British Press all flew to Chicago to interview any and everyone involved with House music. They sat in on sessions and took loads of pics. Of course, Larry Sherman considered himself the resident expert on House Music and offered to take all the press around to all the House music clubs in the city. At that time I'd tried everything to get Larry to press up Move Your Body, but he hated it and said it wasn't House Music. It was because he said it wasn't House music that I called it "The House Music Anthem".I even paid him with my own money to press it up. and he still hadn't done it.
Well, when Larry took the press around to all the House clubs, Move Your Body was the hottest song playing at every single club-on dirty cassettes. The day after he took the press around to all those clubs, Move Your Body was finally on vinyl.
Change One Thing
2 years ago