The Chicago native and one of the genre’s godfathers shares an hour of deep and grooving house – both new and old – and pays tribute to his late friend and fellow pioneer, Sleezy D.
Marshall Jefferson is a towering figure in house music – an artist whose influence sunk deep into club culture both sides of the Atlantic and hasn't wavered nearly three decades later. Born in Chicago, and a regular at its famed clubs like Music Box, Marshall created some of the genre's defining records – from his seminal 1986 break-out Move Your Body (which laid the sound's foundations through his use of keys and a loop structure) to producing and mixing the first acid house track, Phuture's Acid Tracks, in 1987. He later worked with artists like Ten City and CeCe Rogers, and it’s fair to say that house music owes a lot to this true trailblazer.
Nowadays, you’ll find him flying between clubs and festivals in Europe and the US, keeping dancefloors grooving decades after he first began. On November 22, he’s playing a rather special gig at Manchester’s Gorilla in memory of the late Sleezy D, his close friend and the man behind one of acid’s most raw and raucous earliest tracks, I’ve Lost Control, which Marshall co-produced under his Virgo alias. Joined by a cast of house's finest like Danny Rampling, Haçienda resident Jon Dasilva and Steve Mac, the event will raise money for Sleezy's family while bringing the party just like he used to.
To get you warmed up for the Manchester night, Marshall's shared a jacking, soulful Choice Mix – the ideal soundtrack to bodies packed in on an early morning dancefloor. Listen in the player below, then read on for why he'll be pulling out all the stops for Sleezy this month.
You live, or at least have lived, in Manchester. What draws you to the city and makes it feel like home, both musically and personally?
Manchester has a very rich musical history and I’ve always had a good relationship with the people there. They’re very warm and friendly.
You’ve had a pretty busy year, playing all around Europe and the US and also releasing your autobiography, The Diary of a DJ. What have been some of the highlights?
The highlight, of course, is just getting the book out! I’d like to point out a particular gig, but I’ve been playing solidly for the last 25 years and they’re all still great!
You’ve shared with us a Choice Mix. Where was it recorded, and what were some of the ideas you had that shaped it?
Well, this mix was recorded in New Jersey with family climbing all over me and jamming to it. I just wanted to show the kids an alternative to some of the crap, er, *music* that they’re listening to.
Crucially, the night at Gorilla is in tribute to, and a fundraiser for, the late Sleezy D and his family. Can you talk a bit about your relationship/friendship with Sleezy and the legacy of this pioneering artist?
Sleezy was a 40-plus year friend. He had an extremely big personality and when he showed up you knew it was a party! His legacy will always be I’ve Lost Control – which some say is the first acid house song – which I did with him. All I know is that when we did it, there was absolutely nothing out ever before that sounded even remotely like it. But when Ron Hardy played it at the Music Box, it was a stampede to the dance floor.
What are you looking to bring to your set? And are there any tracks in your record box that you're looking forward to playing for Sleezy?
I’m looking forward to playing all of Sleezy’s unreleased music from the album we recorded. People WILL dance!
Marshall Jefferson plays Manchester's Gorilla on Friday November 22, to raise money in memory of Sleezy D. For tickets, click here.
© Jos Kottmann