Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 9th 2008 3:00PM by David Chiu
But for the DJ, whose real name is Joseph Saddler, those successes were marred by conflict involving money, record company dealings, drugs and family problems. "For a long period of time I was pretty angry," he tells Spinner. "I characterize myself as being torn apart and being in lots of pain."
In his new book 'The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats,' co-written with David Ritz, Flash traces his life from his rough childhood in the Bronx to key aspects of his career: witnessing DJ Kool Herc spinning records in 1974; developing DJ-ing techniques such mixing and cutting; and, with the Furious Five -- Melle Mel, Scorpio, Rahiem, Kid Creole and Cowboy -- playing to 3,000 people at the Audubon Ballroom in 1976.
Despite the group's popularity and hits, Flash spent time battling Sylvia Robinson, the head of Sugar Hill Records, over money he felt was owed to them. Flash's role in the group was challenged after Robinson pushed him to record 'The Message.' As he writes in the book, he and the Furious Five were at first not interested in recording the track because the lyrics were so bleak in describing urban decay. "We as a group were like, 'What is this?'" he recalls.
Originally Flash wanted each of the members of the Furious Five to take a turn to rap on the recording. In the end, however, 'The Message,' which became a hit, only involved Melle Mel, not the entire group. "Sitting at the console and watching the record go down the way that it did," Flash says, "and looking at the faces of my boys, I have to say that was one of the most painful things I can do." Then he adds, "This was the beginning of my group falling apart."
Flash's problems with Sugar Hill coincided with his cocaine habit. The author remembers, in probably the book's scariest moment, being in a dingy drug den, and then later ending up in a two-day coma at a hospital.
"It was a very expensive habit," he recalls, "and it had me walk away from my turntables and just be sort of in limbo. It went from being in the business and losing something you created from scratch ... to finally being alone."
Slowly Flash began his comeback by making mix tapes for people and DJ-ing again in the clubs. During that time of recovery he also reconnected with his family and children. Since then Flash had served as the music director for 'The Chris Rock Show' for five years; now he hosts his own weekly show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
"There came a time when I went through a process of letting go," Flash says. "I had to realize that there's one important thing that I still have, and that is I'm still living. I'm still here. From that particular note I had to come to grips and just realize that the things that happened to me. I have to share this."