Grand Wizzard Theodore
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Grand Wizzard Theodore

Hip-Hop Pioneer

Grand Wizzard Theodore, ‘The creator of the scratch’, is best known for inventing two of the most innovative techniques in Djing, scratching and the needle drop. Theodore started in the game with the motivation of his two brothers, Mean Gene and Cordeo who formed one of the original crews called The Livingstone Brothers and the Fantastic Five.

Still known as little Teddy, in 1975 at only 13 years old, Theodore would practice incessantly after school in his room. One day his mother came home while he had the music up so loud when she yelled at him to turn it down, but so into the beat of the song ‘Bongo Rock’(A sample DJ Kool Herc would use by Apache) he could not hear her, he laid his finger on the record to hold the beat position, he could hear the music going back and forth in his earphones creating a scratch. He knew he had a new instrumental weapon. He developed on this with various other records and tried to make it audible for parties. He practiced this technique over and over perfecting it before he unveiled it at his first house party in Sparkle on 174th and Jerome Avenue, The Bronx that same year. It blew people’s minds. People were coming up to the decks to see what was going on. Grand Wizzard Theodore was off the page with this new honed skill.

Off the cult classic movie, Wildstyle, Theodore teamed with the L Brothers and the Fantastic Five went up against DJ Charlie Chase and the Cold Crush Brothers in a basketball street match at the same time overshadowing their ball skills with a freestyle battle. Theo also involved himself in making the soundtrack. Theodore and Flash were immensely proficient DJs that others had to team up to battle either of them solo (including Jazzy Jay and Afrika Islam). Theodore was also an aspiring b-boy at the time, like so many others becoming dexterous at all four elements of hip-hop.

To find the specific break beat on the vinyl a DJ would need to listen into the headset to find the point for the needle to hit, then cut over from one record to the next with timing being of the utmost essence. This is not an easy skill to conquer. Theodore was such a master of the grooves in the vinyl, he had the skills to literally drop the needle flawlessly by hand and sight on the break beat with impeccable timing while the record was still spinning. Theodore was so incredible on the tables that he became forever known as Grand Wizzard Theodore.

The Grand Wizzard continues to rock parties internationally and teaches DJ master classes. He was inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame in 1998. Theodore has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the International Turntablists Federation and “Back to Mecca”. Grand Wizzard served as an esteemed panelist at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Hip Hop Conference in 1999 and when the exhibit traveled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in 2000, he taught a phenomenal DJ Master Class, with up and coming DJ Perseus. Grand Wizzard Theodore is also featured in the DJ documentary “Scratch” which recently premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

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