As hip-hop mourns the loss of DJ Mr. Magic, TheUrbanDaily.com presents an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming book by Dan Charnas, “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop,” coming out on New American Library/Penguin in 2010.
Charnas interviewed Magic in October of 2007 and in these following clips he tells the story of how “Lucky the Magician” became Mr. Magic and helped give birth to the group Whodini.
“Disco Showcase” was the brainchild of John Rivas, a DJ from Brooklyn who performed as “Lucky The Magician.” Lucky, too, dreamed of being Frankie Crocker, while he built custom speakers at S&H, an electronics shop in downtown Manhattan. He enrolled himself in a radio course at the New York School of Announcing and Speech, where fellow students told Lucky about a small FM station on the Upper West Side called WHBI that sold airtime for $75 an hour. If he could get S&H to give him $150 for four commercials, he’d be in business. With the fish shop across the street kicking in for a few more spots, he’d be making money. In the spring of 1979, Lucky the Magician shortened his handle to “Mr. Magic,” and launched his “Disco Showcase,” from 2 to 4 a.m. every Sunday morning. Even before the first rap record had been released, Magic brought breakbeats to the airwaves and rappers in to the studio for live routines. Soon, Sal Abatiello signed the Disco Fever on as a regular sponsor. With the release of “Rappers Delight,” “Mr. Magic’s Disco Showcase” became the world’s first rap radio show.