Sleezy D, Terry Farley and Marshall Jefferson outside Soho Radio, April 2019

Remembering Sleezy D

Pioneer of Acid House

Acid house was - and is - the squelchy house music sub-genre that came out of Chicago in the early 1980s. Fabled to have been invented by its pioneers on their Roland TB-303 synthesizers, acid house’s protagonists developed a whole new sound more by accident than design. The 303 was famously confusing to operate but the electronic musicians using them discovered that they could create these strange psychedelic patterns which gave the movement its name.

Arguments will probably rage until the end of time about which was the first acid house track; either way both were co-produced by house music legend Marshall Jefferson. They are, of course, Phuture’s ‘Acid Tracks’ and the wonderfully warped ‘I’ve Lost Control’ by Sleezy D which contains a manically, haunting scream throughout.

Although not prolific, Sleezy D AKA Derrick Harris, can lay claim to be part of a small bunch of artists who have changed the course of music. A larger-than-life character, he was a key player in the burgeoning days of house music in Chicago. He is said to have invented the dance “jacking” which was later immortalised by Steve “Silk” Hurley in his song ‘Jack Your Body’.

Sadly, he passed away quite suddenly on 13 June. In fact, he had just completed a new album with his great friend and musical partner, Jefferson. Rumour is the album is to be called Let’s Go Underground. Plans for its release are unknown but no doubt there will be renewed interest following Sleezy’s passing.

In honour of this wonderful man, we have put together a Spotify playlist which is inspired by the last ever interview he gave a few weeks ago for Jocks&Nerds magazine.

Acid House Top Five

Sleezy D - I’ve Lost Control (1984)

Arguably the first ever acid house track, using the Roland TB-303 to create a dark, twisted new version of house music. Both euphoric and menacing, a true dance record classic.

Phuture - Acid Tracks (1984)

Alongside, ‘I’ve Lost Control’ a groundbreaking record of the genre and the first to use the word ‘Acid’ in its name. Written by DJ Pierre.

Pierre’s Phantasy Club - Phantasy Girl (Acid Mix) (1987)

If Sleezy D released the first ever acid house track, DJ Pierre is regarded as the true king of the genre. This track is a perfect example of the truly unusual squelchy sound that these musicians were able to get out of the 303.

Mr Lee - Pump Up London (1988)

The B-side to ‘Pump Up Chicago’ this is a true dancefloor stomper which also has a great horn section. It also acknowledges how acid house was embraced outside of Chicago and partcularly in the UK. Even Milton Keynes gets a namecheck on this record.

K-Alexi - Vertigo (1989)

A rare acid house record to come out of Detroit rather than Chicago - although K-Alexi Shelby was a native of Chicago. Released on Derrick May’s Transmat label it has a driving techno baseline under the 303 hook.

The interview between Sleezy D, Marshall Jefferson and Terry Farley will be broadcast soon on Soho Radio 

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