Top 50k on The DJ List

Keith Johnson

United States



DJ Keith Johnson is originally from Trenton, New Jersey. He started collecting music at the age of 12. He grew up mostly listening to AM radio, but later was introduced to FM radio and WBLS radio personality Larry Levan. Keith became an arduous follower of the late Mr. Levan and started sneaking into NY and the nightclub Paradise Garage. Along the way, he frequented Club Zanzibar and enjoyed the talents of Tony Humphries. (Keith is featured as a guest DJ on the website.) These two DJ’s and Philadelphia DJ David Todd of Catacombs have molded the style that is DJ Keith. Keith is the owner of the ‘flava’ tape production company qmp / dp mixes by Keith Johnson.

In the late seventies, Keith started getting into dance music. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, he had previously been exposed to the American and British rock genres through his friends. AM radio exposed him to the Easy Listening, Jazz and Soul genres. These genres were kept thriving within Keith’s collection through his discovery of FM radio. He constantly listened to the radio when he ran across the FM waves from Philly and NY. Out of these influences came the making of a DJ. Keith went to the clubs that had the best DJ’s of that era. He liked a lot of the guys who were playing music then. He got something different from all of them. Keith used to go to a club called Odyssey in Asbury Park, NJ to hear a guy named Joe Thompson and got to meet DJ/Producer Shep Pettibone one evening. He was about 17 or 18 at the time and says that he felt ‘much honored to say the least. I think this meeting, more than any other, caused me to concentrate on playing and collecting music.’ Another event that honed Keith’s skills was the advent meeting of his long time friend David Williams. David gave him his first opportunity to learn how to mix.

During this period, Keith was going to Club Zanzibar on ‘off nights’ and he was exposed to DJ Tee Scott’s talents. He remembers, ‘This guy really had a funky type groove going on. I liked that in a club. On one night you could be exposed to many different genres that made people dance.’ Later in the early eighties, Keith switched over to Saturdays and DJ Tony Humphries who was then hurting the airwaves on WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM. ‘This man was awesome as a mixer to me,’ Keith says. ‘His energy was incredible and unequalled.’ Keith would leave Zanzibar and hop a train to the Garage to get a taste of Larry almost every weekend during those years. If he was not in Newark or NY, he was in Philly chilling with the smooth and soulful NY sounds of David Todd or the dance groove sets of the late DJ Donald Stone at the Catacombs.

Pulling from all of these influences, it’s no wonder Keith is called the ‘Classic’ DJ in his hometown. But don’t let that fool you. He can slam house and club with the best of them. ‘But the classics are truly my heart,’ he confesses. ‘Nowadays these kids don’t really know so I have to give them what they do know and teach them what I have learned. After all, that is what all of these guys have done for me and all of these guys have done it well by me. Much love and thanks to all of them.’

Keith has ‘plenty of guys that float around with me when I go out to play. I bring them along to make the nights more interesting.’ Lately, Keith has found a few guys that he says make the DJ experience worthwhile for him. They are DJ Ahmed Davis, DJ Chris ‘Conrad’ Deskiewicz, DJ Chris Johann, DJ Chris Purtell and the DJ Mike ‘Moovs’ Montgomery. ‘Thanks to all of these guys for being who they are. I also need to mention my track master classic Jazz man, Jose Bruno.’ He’s an up-and-coming DJ. Keith says to watch out for this one because ‘he’s learning fast and has a truly distinctive style.’

All of Keith’s latest mixes are mixed, mastered, and engineered at Fatal Sounds Studios in Trenton NJ. The studio is owned and operated by his best friend and Cousin DJ Michael Ganie.