Frankie Bones, thugs & harmony. The Ravest American Hero. A DJ who has the total exclusive eyewitness report on DJ culture and how it began in Europe and then the United States. Long before Das Googlemaschine brought the world into our bedrooms, Frankie Bones set out to harness the international power of electronic music. He used guerilla street tactics, not blogs and email blasts, to do so. Things were very different back then. With so many DJ’s blogging away on the internet, it becomes real easy to lose track of the history. Yet before DJ culture went global, it has a deep rooted history to New York City. Electronic Music became popular through the early Hip Hop scene as far back as 1982. The year the Roland 808 drum machine was released Arthur Baker & John Robie created “Planet Rock” which gave Kraftwerk street sensibility. Hip Hop. Hip being in the know. What was happening in the streets and hop. Hop being the movement, DJ’s, MC’s, break dancers & graffiti . The subculture of Hip Hop took the street element right below the surface. To define “Underground” in its true context, Frankie was spending many nights exploring subway tunnels and writing “Bones” on every train in the system.
In true warrior fashion, like the plot of the movie, Bones would explore every part of New York City. In the 80’s, the buzz was created through a network of record stores which sold vinyl. On any given Saturday, Bones would just go digging for beats. In 1984 Bones met Omar Santana & Carlos Berrios who were getting popular from doing edits on Reel-to-reel tape. Omar was getting lots of work from record labels and it took on a life of its own, steady work was pouring in. At 18 years old, Bones started a resident slot as a DJ in a Long Island club, and on December 1, 1984, NY state raised the drinking age to 21. This forced Bones into writing and producing. Omar, Carlos & Bones meeting was a blessing. Still teenagers, hungry & determined, names on records gave them street credit.
Aldo Marin from Cutting Records signed Sa-Fire & Corina which both were certified radio hits in NYC and Miami. Bones was ghost-writing lyrics for Omar & Carlos and once the first tracks were released, there was no looking back. L’mour & La’mour East were Brooklyn & Queens biggest venues, Carlos began playing in Queens and Bones got the Brooklyn residency in early 1987. Omar introduced Bones to Tommy Musto & Lenny Dee and this was right when Fourth Floor/Nugroove records were moving into new offices in Manhattan. Within the first two years, Bones had produced dozens of underground tracks, selling 227,000 units in New York City.
This is where the real story begins. Bones daily routine was not one of paying dues, it was more like playing a part. Apexton Records was a record pressing plant in Queens. Bones began working there as the guy who shrink-wrapped the records. Within two weeks Bones had an office after hearing a Todd Terry demo and wandering into a closed door meeting asking “What is that?” It was the first Masters At Work demo. They were about to pass on it when Bones curiosity suddenly sparked interest. 10,000 copies later, Bones would oversee the projects, sign demo’s, box records, sell records. Bones
was in the abyss. 21 years old and not a moment wasted.
When 1988 rolled in, Bones and Lenny Dee were spinning in Long Island, Staten Island & The Jersey Shore every weekend on both Friday & Saturday nights. New records were released every week and suddenly everything is being licensed to U.K. labels. The Rave Scene in London had become the next big thing. Bones knew his music was becoming more popular in London then in New York. So a tour was planned, headlining a 5000 person event called “Energy” on August 26, 1989. But as Bones walked into his future that morning 25,000 people in unison were about to witness the strength of street knowledge.
The promoter Tin Tin Chambers wrote: "When Frankie saw it, it totally took his head off. He played the morning set til the sun came up, so he played the dawn, basically. For him to witness the impact of the people, who would chant & sing to the music he made and played, it really blew him away. Of course he would bring that back to America, but up to that point, there never was a scene in America. He went back and wrote “Energy Dawn” for XL and that turned into quite the classic".
Bones met Paul Oakenfold & Carl Cox that night. They all made history @ Energy. Bones now thrust right into the minds of the U.K. youth. The rest of Europe paying close attention and Bones playing the first events in France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Holland. The history left in the names of the 1990 & 1991 Love Parade’s in Germany. “My House Is Your House” & “The Future Is Ours”. Tracks produced by Bones making him an early rising star in Germany.
Bones never really wanted to rise to fame and fortune in Europe. In fact he was quite content with his former New York City status and many times homesick after living on and off in London. It was a hectic schedule which included many countries and lots of travel. It wasn’t a problem for the first year, but when Bones realized the potential in America after being booked as London’s most recognized rave DJ for a party in Los Angeles, the countdown had begun. June 1, 1990. The promoters were expecting a Brit and were virtually upset when they heard a New York accent. They had no idea. Now Bones realized the West Coast scene was also about to explode, he went back to Brooklyn and started throwing STORMrave.
Bones became popular on both coasts simultaneously. From 1990 on. It spread quickly towards the center and by 1993 you pretty much had a scene in every state in the nation. Frankie Bones is the only DJ able to be part of all three original scenes and the impact of his own history has him living in California these days. He claims his love for the music and scene always rotates around the early days of California. Whereas he couldn’t wait to get out of London, he never wanted to leave Los Angeles.
There is so so so much more to this story, for now the basis for the next 20 years remained the same. To play great music for the people wherever the scene took him. Frankie still spins every weekend and always stays current to the trends and styles which make up DJ culture.