When It All Began: The History of Fantasia Brooklyn Mobile DJ’s
This was a story that was way long overdue. It had been sitting on the back burner for a long time. I believe if you don’t tell your story no one else will. I do not know if the other Brooklyn DJ’s kept documentation of their exploits. A lot of the Brooklyn mobile DJ’s have gone unrecognized since that era of the Golden Age of mobile DJ’s. And yes! Things were happening in Brooklyn as well as the South Bronx. Hopefully my story will open up a new dialogue about the African American mobile DJ contribution to the music industry. This story is also dedicated to those great DJ’s of that era who I came to admire, be inspired, and had a chance to play with them during our great tenure as Brooklyn’s powerful mobile DJ’s. Fantasia came, they saw, they conquered, and DAMN! WE HAD FUN!
What started out as way to make some money for our young pockets grew into a much larger quest. Let’s go back to the year 1972. I met my two high school buddies Larry and Laverne aka Killer and Rapp3 in Abraham Lincoln high school. These were the names which they called themselves at the time. Killer had taken his name from the comedian Flip Wilson’s Geraldine character’s boyfriend. Rapp said he could rap three ways. I guess he thought he could rap to a girl three different ways to get to her.
I got the name Chips from the Abraham Lincoln football team’s linebacker Ray Wiggins. Actually, it was Mr. Chips taken from that movie of the time Goodbye Mr. Chips. Ray would always call me Mr. Chips whenever I got the answer right in social studies class, which was most of the time. Soon the rest of the football team that made up the rest of that class started calling me that. I liked the nickname. However, later on I just dropped the Mister part. Occasionally someone on the team would be a wise ass and call me Mr. Tibbs.
It was Ray Wiggins who inspired us to throw our own parties. He gave nice parties on Park Place and Nostrand Ave over in the Crown Height section of Brooklyn. He also played the music too. It was the first time I heard Magic Carpet Ride by SteppenWolf.
This is a precursor to a rather long story. Basically my two high buddies Larry B aka Killer and Laverne aka Rapp 3 started out as the Grandmasters. We wanted to give parties and make some money. I was the DJ, Larry was the MC and Rapp was the Everything Man. We later gave up that name because Flowers started to use it.
Rapp later quit the group. We hooked up with Larry’s cousin Kool Dee from the South Bronx. When I met him it was the first time I actually got to play on a mixer. My sister was dating Lindsay at the time. I told him I had a DJ ensemble. I came up with the name FANTASIA from off a shoe box from the Arrow Smith shoe store. Lindsay said he would give us a shot. We scrambled to get equipment together. My girlfriend at the time, Jeanie, helped buy me Jensen and Pioneer speakers. The Jensen had a 15' woofer, while the Pioneer had an array of 10' speakers. Kool Dee supplied the mixer. Larry had the powerful Fisher receiver. I also supplied the BSR and Garrard turntables.
Needless to say our first outing was almost a disaster. We were on stage with the late great Larry D at JIMMY’S on 52nd St. We were so nervous we forgot to hook up ground wire for the turntables. We kept getting this feedback through the speakers. Somehow we got it together and got the butts bouncing. It would be a while before we were invited to come back and rock Jimmy’s again. Every now and then Larry D would let us jam on his equipment when he was booked at Jimmy’s.
Later on Kool Dee split and went solo. Larry and I were left to get it going. Soon we met Jimmy Green. He had a van. Transportation problem solved. We hit the Chitlin’ Circuit playing at bars, weddings and house parties to raise money to buy better equipment. I used some my college funds to get our first Phase Linear 700B. I loved that amp!
Every now and then Larry D would let us jam on his equipment when he was booked at Jimmy’s. While we began building momentum, we ran into Action Jackson at gig at Manhattan Center. Kool Dee was using Jackson’s latest front loaded Gauss bat wing speakers with two 15’ woofers in each cabinet. The bass was amazing. We asked Jackson to design some folded horn cabinets for us. He agreed.
Meeting Jackson and hooking up with him helped take FANTASIA to another level. I had seen Jackson before with Plummer and Gregg Myers. Jackson saw that we were serious and decided to partner with us.
During that time Jackson took our wooden 6’ midrange array cabinets and put them in Plexiglas enclosures. No other DJs during that time had Plexiglas speakers. We were unique in this regard. We received a lot of “Oohs and Aahs!” when people say them.