Who is Grand Wizard Theodore?

The hip-hop DJ widely credited as the inventor of scratching

Grand-Wizard-Theodore.jpg
Jemal Countess/WireImage

Name: Theodore Livingston

Born: March 5, 1963

Hometown: Bronx, New York

Known For: Inventing the scratching technique

Who is Grand Wizard Theodore?

Theodore Livingston (aka Grand Wizard Theodore) was born and bred in Bronx, New York. He learned how to DJ from his brother. Through years of practice, Theodore would eventually master the art of DJing and even innovate his own style.

The three most important names in the history of deejaying are Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore.

Herc is known for discovering the breaks. Flash perfected Herc's breaks. Theodore is widely acknowledged as the inventor of scratching -- a technique where the DJ pushes a record back and forth to produce a scratching noise, hence the name.

How Grand Wizard Theodore Invented Scratching

There are many variations of the story, but the most famous one goes that Theodore was deejaying in his room when his mother asked him to turn down the volume of his record. He kept spinning. When Theodore's mom stormed into the room, he immediately tried to stop the record by putting pressure on it with his hand. This produced a scratching sound. When she left, he continued to experiment with this technique, fascinated by the sound produced when he slowly moved the vinyl back and forth. The art of scratching is born.

After months of practicing, Theodore debuted the technique on Augus 18, 1977, when he scratched for the first time at the Sparkle Club.

The Needle Drop

But Theodore wasn't a one-trick pony. In addition to being an originator, Theodore also earned a reputation for his needle drop technique.

The Fantastic Freaks

Grand Wizard Theodore released music in the 1980s as part of the group Grandwizard Theodore & The Fantastic Five.

The group comprised of:

  • Grand Wizard Theodore
  • Waterbed Kev
  • Master Rob
  • Prince Whipper Whip
  • Ruby Dee
  • Dot-A-Rock

 

One notable record you should visit immediately is "Can I Get a Soul Clap." The group also went by the Fantastic Freaks or Fantastic Five. Back then, everything was Fantastic.

Theodore's Influence on Deejaying
Today, many turntablists use scratching and needle drops as a device to thrill the crowd. Thanks to pioneering sound architects like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore, the DJ remains a driving force in hip-hop today.