Those of you into DJing have probably heard the term “scratching” used before. It’s defined simply as producing rhythmic sounds by rubbing or scratching the records. This generic scratch technique has evolved so much over the years as huge names such as DJ QBert, DJ Craze, and DJ A-Trak have all put their own creative spin into it. Though a vital part of every turntablist’s arsenal, few know where it originated. Let’s look back 30 or so years to New York City where a man known as Grand Wizard Theodore made the best mistake.

Grand Wizard Theodore (A.K.A Theodore Livingston) grew up in The Bronx, New York in 1963. Having brothers in the hip-hop scene, Theodore quickly picked up music focusing primarily on the turntables. Learning the basics from another early legend Grandmaster Flash, Theodore began practicing and mastering mix techniques. One day as a teenager, Theodore was practicing in his room when he accidentally rubbed the record back and forth. Intrigued with the sound, he began experimenting with it applying it to several Grandmaster Flash mixing tricks.

With-in the next several years, Theodore became one of NYC’s most recognizable DJs. He applied his scratch techniques with-in his sets gaining him instant recognition. He later went on to play in a hip-hop group known as Grand Wizard Theodore and the 5 MCs and became a legend within the hip-hop scene. Today he can still be found DJing as well as teaching others the art of his famous mistake.

Though Grand Wizard Theodore helped begin the art of scratching, so many other turntablists have helped it grow. Have a favorite turntablist?

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