There’s already loads of info on Man Parrish on the net – he’s always been very forthcoming – so this entry is just to encourage you to check out his less famous music, if you haven’t already.
He’s most famous for ‘Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)’ and ‘Boogie Down (Bronx)’, but one of my favourite tracks of his is ‘Heatstroke’. With a vocoder bought from ELO, ‘Heatstroke’ is a great one to get lost to in a club and, with its street clap intro, is as driving as electro disco can get. He originally wrote it for the soundtrack to a porn movie just to make a bit of money. The story goes that he went to a club one night and heard the DJ playing it; he asked how the DJ had got hold of the track and was told that he’d recorded it from the video and made an acetate from it.
Like ‘Hip Hop Be Bop’, ‘Heatstroke’ ended up being released on a number of different labels (sometimes titled ‘Heartstroke’, probably by mistake but perhaps in an attempt to disguise an unapproved pressing). Despite being hugely influential, Parrish never made any money from his own tracks during electro’s heyday. When Ed DMX of Breakin’ Records released some remixes of ‘Hip Hop Be Bop’ in 2002 and sent him a royalty cheque, Parrish told him that that was the first time that any label had ever given him any royalties. His 1982 album sold over two million copies.
Despite being much in demand during the 80s – for a time he was the headline DJ at Studio 54 and was part of Andy Warhol’s crew – Parrish ended up being a male stripper and prostitute in order to make ends meet, although this at least provided material for his Man 2 Man hit, ‘Male Stripper’.
Interestingly, Parrish didn’t really think of his music as floorfiller material – it was intended more as experimental art. Other tracks from 1982 worth checking are; ‘Techno Trax’ (I’ve never heard anyone claim that Man Parrish wrote the first techno track… is that because he was white and from New York?); ‘Six Simple Synthesizers’ (which sounds like an artier Kraftwerk); and ‘Man Made’ (which has echoes of Transvolta’s ‘You’re Disco’).
Anyway, this wasn’t intended as a sob story. He may not have been paid in dollars, but the amount of respect he’s been paid hopefully goes some way. Besides, he was one of the first people in New York to buy the expensive E-mu Emulator sampler… he must have been a pretty good stripper.
Posted by Manny Z