Legendary HIP HOP DJ Mr. Magic, born John Rivas, died today of a heart attack.
In the wake of this news, Dan Charnas of InteractiveOne has provided an excerpt of his forthcoming book, “The Big Payback: The History of The Business of Hip-Hop”, which contains one of the final interviews with the pioneer. From The Urban Daily
“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.
So Magic passed his opportunity to the guys in his crew, Jalil and Ecstasy. The record executive, Barry Weiss, instead found himself recording a tribute to Mr. Magic called “Magic’s Wand,” conjured by the duo who now called themselves Whodini, the first rap artists released by Weiss’ label, Jive Records.
Rest in peace, Magic.