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Theodore Livingston was brought up in a hip hop household: His older brothers were party rockers who rolled with Grandmaster Flash. The tweenage Theodore tagged along, standing on record crates showing off his uncanny ability to needle-drop - his trick of looping a break by returning the stylus seamlessly to the start of the bar.
One day in 1975, whilst having a cheeky mix at home, his Mom interrupts. As the oft-repeated legend goes, and one he’s fond of retelling, young Theo doesn’t want to lose the beat he’s cueing in his cans so holds it rhythmically under his hand - a technique the old schoolers’ called rubbing.
As his Ma bleats on, he’s distracted by the rhythmical back and forth in the headphones. Something clicks, and after he’s appeased his old dear, he goes back to the sound and feverishly experiments with its musical potential.
Other DJs like Flash had heard the ziggy-ziggy before, but the prodigious GrandWizzard Theodore is widely credited with making this scratching sound part of his act. Thanks, Mom!
Hear the story from the horse’s mouth here…