Francis Grasso
Francis Grasso) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 disc jockey
Disc jockey
A disc jockey, also known as DJ, is a person who selects and plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, "disc" referred to phonograph records, not the later Compact Discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium.There are several types of disc jockeys...

 from New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, best known for inventing the technique of slip-cueing
Slip-cueing is a turntable-based DJ technique that consists of holding a record still while the platter rotates underneath the slipmat and releasing it at the right moment. This way the record accelerates to the right speed almost immediately, without waiting for the heavy platter to start up...

 and later beatmatching
Beatmatching is a disc jockey technique of pitch shifting or timestretching a track to match its tempo to that of the currently playing track e.g. the kicks and snares in two house records hit at the same time when both records are played simultaneously...

 (sometimes referred to as mixing or blending) which is the foundation of the modern club DJ's technique.

Grasso started his DJ career in 1967 at a New York nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

 called Salvation II. When the primary DJ Terry Noel failed to show up on time one night, the owners offered Grasso a chance at the job. The crowd responded almost immediately and soon he had his first regular gig. It was there and at subsequent New York clubs such as Tarots and his most famous nightclub, Sanctuary — a former German Baptist church at 43rd Street & 9th Avenue (featured in the movie Klute
Klute is a 1971 film which tells the story of a prostitute who assists a detective in solving a missing persons case. It stars Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi and Roy Scheider. The movie was written by Andy Lewis and Dave Lewis and directed by Alan J. Pakula.Klute was the first...

) — where Grasso perfected his craft.

Grasso was the first DJ to require headphones
Headphones are a pair of small loudspeakers, or less commonly a single speaker, held close to a user's ears and connected to a signal source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD player or portable Media Player. They are also known as stereophones, headsets or, colloquially, cans. The in-ear...

 as part of his setup. This allowed him to preview a record on one turntable while another played on the second turntable. By using headphones in combination with slip-cueing, he changed the art of DJing. The records that Grasso was mixing used live drummers and not beat machines. It took skill and a good ear to mix these records for more than a few seconds which Grasso perfected to longer and longer sequences.

The most impressive addition Grasso brought to DJ culture was music programming; the art of picking up on the energy of the crowd and sending that energy right back to them through the next track. Early on, Grasso used Thorens
Thorens is a Swiss manufacturer of high-end audio equipment. They are historically renowned for the range of phonographs they produce...

 turntables although they were a far cry from the Technics turntables
Technics SL-1200
The Technics SL-1200 MK2 MK3 MK4 MK5 MK5G M5G MK6 LTD & GLD are a series of turntables manufactured since October 1972 by Matsushita under the brand name of Technics. S means "Stereo", L means "Player". Originally released as a high fidelity consumer record player, it quickly became adopted among...

most DJs use in clubs today. Soon he taught others and Grasso spread the art of mixing by maintaining a constant beat and working the crowd with the music throughout New York.

Though he died in March 2001, the skills and techniques he pioneered remain the foundation of what is heard in a modern nightclub. Francis was interviewed in Josell Ramos' 2003 feature-length documentary Maestro.

External links

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