He was an important part of the early 1970s New York disco underground scene, influencing garage and House music DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan. He also laid the foundations for early 1980s experimental Chicago house music. One of the early pioneers of beat-mixing, and known for considerably more skillful mixing than many better known dj’s at the time, he is cited by many early pioneers of the house-music scene as an influence. His “Disco Blend” remix of Double Exposure’s “Ten Percent” was once described by UK DJ Ashley Beedle as providing a “blueprint for house music”.
Gibbons was known as “the DJ’s DJ” because his peers would go out of their way to go hear him play. Kool DJ Herc brought Dub to the New York City music scene, where Gibbons and other remixers played it and applied dub techniques to dance music. He played disco songs, focusing more on the percussion than the melody, and “stretched out the grooves so much that they teetered on the edge of motionlessness. “Like Arthur Russell, who recorded with him, Gibbons “used dub as a dislocating device, preventing disco’s simple groove from developing under the dancers’ feet.”
He enjoyed a long association with Salsoul Records at the end of the 1970s. His DJ skills, punctuality and seriousness convinced Salsoul to assign him the remix of “Ten Percent”, by Double Exposure), even though he had never produced. It was the first commercially available 12-inch single in the world. This was his best known remix.
His remix of “Hit and Run” by Loleatta Holloway was a surprise hit (he had considerably lengthened the recording and even removed Holloway’s first two verses of vocals).
In 2004, Salsoul / Sussd’ Records released a triple cd compilation with Walter’s remixes for the label.
It is called “Mixed with Love (Walter Gibbons Salsoul Anthology)”. It is composed of three discs, being #1 The Madness Begins…, #2 The Madness Continues… and #3 Total Insanity. These feature Gibbons’ mixes of tracks by the likes of Loleatta Holloway, The Salsoul Orchestra, Double Exposure, First Choice, Love Committee and Anthony White among others. The tracks feature the 12 mix and the Disco Madness mix of some of the tracks like Loleatta Holoway’s “Catch Me on the Rebound” - a different version is found on each of the three cds.
The Anthology also includes a 40 page booklet with an essay, on Walter Gibbons work, by Tim Lawrence, author of “Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970-79”.
The 1996 album “Walter’s Room” was Black Science Orchestra’s homage to Gibbons, released in London on Junior Boy’s Own Records.
Gibbons became a reborn Christian in the 1980s, but still managed to turn out cutting edge mixes during this period (he simply focused on songs and lyrics that did not offend his beliefs). He died of AIDS related symptoms in 1994.
Edited by Giba-G on 4 Nov 2011, 23:29
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