There are a handful of men who have the title of “Godfather” of House. While many have legitimate claims to the title because of seniority and being there at the beginning, one stands out from the crowd as being the one that defined House music, and indeed dance music as we know it today. His name is Marshall Jefferson. In 1986 he played piano on a House record for the first time ever. The idea was so innovative that record companies told him that it wasn’t even house music. That record was the platinum “House Music Anthem”, and today you rarely hear a house record without piano.
Since then, Marshall’s list of accomplishments in House music read like no one else. In 1987 he produced the first ever “Acid House” record “Acid Tracks” using the TB 303, and simultaneously launching the successful career of DJ Pierre. Also, he produced the first House record incorporating old tome soulful spiritual vocals, launching the successful careers of Ten City, Kim Mazelle and Ce Ce Rogers. All those early songs are blueprints for what we recognize today as Deep House, Garage and Techno music. The TB 303 is now the most sought after instrument for Techno artists and producers today.
It seems like almost every song Marshall produced turned into another form of music, which Marshall regrets, as he just wanted his songs to sound different from each other. Marshall was also the headline act in the first House music tour of Europe in 1987, and House music has remained since. The list of careers that Marshall has helped or launched reads like a who’s who of dance music; Roy Davis Jr, Felix Da Housecat, Lil Louis, Frankie Knuckles, Steve “Silk” Hurley, and many others, not including thousands of producers/DJs that have been influenced by him.
The most impressive thing about Marshall, however is what separates him from all the others, his ability to consistently write the classic song. He is far and away the most covered songwriter in dance music today, with his back catalogue containing more than one hundred covers and sample licenses. This is because Marshall’s forte has always been essentially groove-oriented.
In early spring of 1994 Marshall Jefferson came back from a four year sabbatical, returning to the UK he was surprised to see the lack of change in the dance music scene. He returned back to his first love, DJing. Six years on, he is one of the biggest DJs to come out of Chicago having played at every major club/event across Europe and playing resident to Europe’s biggest dance festival Tribal Gathering/Big Love. Finally when we look at the House music spectrum in all its mutated forms from Deep House, Garage, Techno and Acid through the years, you can be sure he has contributed or influenced all of them!