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A Survey: The First DISCO Song / Record!

The FIRST DISCO SONG...

The term "DISCO" was loved by many in the seventies, it was a reference to a style of music that was played in the Night Clubs. They, in turn became known affectionately as "DISCOS", as in "I'm going to the DISCO" It was there that we heard "DISCO Music". Soon those who didn't know how to dance started an anti-DISCO movement, as in DISCO SUCKS! That is another story all together. The Term "DISCO" is today like a sexually transmitted disease, no-one wants anything to do with it.


But when did DISCO actually start? What was the FIRST DISCO record? Who was the first DISCO GROUP? Well, I hope to shed some light on this. While there have been "DISCOTEHQUES" in Europe since before World War II, in Paris , today's "DISCOS" started being called that in the early seventies. DISCO music was what changed them from Night Clubs . The music itself caused the TERM to be applied to the locations as well. BUT....

Is there ONE song that changed everything? ONE song that started "DISCO"? Probably not just ONE song, but for arguments sake, I tried to find it. The FIRST song that was termed DISCO. Before it, the music played was called SOUL or R&B. After this one song, DISCO MUSIC or DISCO became the term to which the dance music was being referred to. There isn't just ONE song, no. But I asked 1,200 deejays from that DISCO era to give me their earliest recollections, and I took them down, made a list of their responses. Soon I had a list of over one-hundred and sixty-five songs!! The ones that were mentioned most often, credited for the beginning of DISCO, are now listed below.

Some deejays put titles like "Dancin in the streets" by Martha Reeves and The Vandellas from 1964 as the first. WRONG! That was SOUL / R & B / MOTOWN, not DISCO. That wasn't the song that gave us the TERM! Others credited SANTANA and "Black Magic Woman/Evil Ways". WRONG again. That was "Dance-able Rock", it too, didn't start the DISCO movement. A lot of Stevie Wonder's work was mentioned, but alas, that too was MOTOWN, and did not start the DISCO explosion.

It was close, the top three songs listed were all mentioned by over 75 percent of those who responded to my survey. There are some BIG surprises on the list. Even bigger surprises as to who is NOT on the list. No Bee Gees, or DISCO INFERNO. Is this "fool proof", no, but it does give us a very good idea of the music that started the DISCO movement.

Here you have them, the TWENTY-FIVE FIRST SONGS OF DISCO! (In reverse order)

#25- "FRANKENSTEIN" by The EDGAR WINTER GROUP- 25 percent
#24- "Mr. BIG STUFF" by JEAN KNIGHT-27 percent
#23- "LET'S GET IT TOGETHER" by EL COCO-30 percent
#22- "JUNGLE BOOGIE/HOLLYWOOD SWINGIN" by KOOL AND THE GANG-33 percent
#21- "BALL OF CONFUSION" by THE TEMPTATIONS-35 percent
#20- "ROCK THE BOAT" by THE HUES CORPORATION-45 percent
#19- "VENUS" by The SHOCKING BLUE-45 percent
#18- "PILLOW TALK" by SYLVIA-45 percent
#17- "LOOK ME UP" by BLUE MAGIC-45 percent
#16- "LOVE'S THEME" by The LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA-46 percent
#15- "DANCE TO THE MUSIC" by SLY STONE-47 percent
#14- "I'M GONNA LOVE YOU JUST A LITTLE MORE" by BARRY WHITE-48 percent
#13- "THE LOVE I LOST/BAD LUCK" by HAROLD MELVIN and THE BLUE NOTES-50 percent
#12- "KEEP ON TRUCKIN' / BOOGIE DOWN / DATE WITH THE RAIN" by EDDIE KENDRICKS-50 percent
#11- "SPANISH HARLEM" by ARETHA FRANKLIN-52 percent
#10- "ARMED AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS / NEWSY NEIGHBORS" by The FIRST CHOICE-53 percent
#9- "IN THE SUMMERTIME" by MUNGO JERRY-54 percent
#8- "THEME FROM SHAFT" by ISSAC HAYES-59 percent
#7- " LOVE TRAIN" by The O'JAYS-60 percent
#6- " LET'S GET IT ON" by MARVIN GAYE-60 percent
#5- "WANT ADS" by HONEY CONE-60 percent
#4- "JUNGLE FEVER" by The CHAKACHAS-70 percent
#3- "FREDDIE'S DEAD / SUPERFLY" by CURTIS MAYFIELD-75 percent
#2- "CISCO KID / ME AND BABY BROTHER / SPILL THE WINE" by WAR-80 percent
#1- "ZING WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART" by THE TRAMMPS-90 percent

There it is, the best that I could do. Gives us a lot to talk about doesn't it!

By vyniljunkie


 

Your Comments

jeff |

first disco record they actually came out belong to Barry White love unlimited orchestra was loves themes was the first disco record actually drove you to call it disco music because it had all the sounds that built disco music. the song that I actually drove disco music was by a group called brass construction they had a song called Movin' .

lazaro |

iam 58, raised I nyc. started going to clubs in ny, at the age of 17.one of the first song I heard on the clubs and radio.was soul makoosa.that was the first disco song.no more no lessss.......

Dezie |

Great topic! Surprised these weren't mentioned:
Temptations - Law of the Land
Fatback Band - Bus Stop
Crystal Grass - Crystal World

The first two typify the driving beat of Disco and the third is orchestral (Cerrone and I think Costandinos produced)

Big Dave |

Talking with some friends the other night on this subject........and we all came to the conclusion that the first disco tune could have been "Dance Master" by Willie Henderson which predates George McRae by a good 2 years - about 1972.
Some for those tunes listed simply cannot EVER be given the title of "disco music" as good as some of them are.

Big Dave |

I operated a mobile disco between about 1973 and 1978 so feel I am qualified to enter the discussion and stick my opinion up on the board.
To try to quantify which was the FIRST disco record can only ever be a matter of opinion and can never be measured definatively. It depends on where you live, the discos you visited back in the day and your own tastes in dance music.
Many of the tunes mentioned were certainly played alot and got people up on the floor.
However my own view on the subject is this.
Disco started as a specific genre circa 1974. Before this, many dance tunes came and went, but were not made with the sole intention of beong played in a disco.
George McRae with "Rock Your Baby" was, in my humble opinion the tune that started the big ball rolling.
This was THE biggy of the day.
Many other tunes may have supported this tidal wave, but this was the number one in my book.

Rob |

The first disco songs to me were Honeybee (Gloria Gaynor) or Doctor's Orders (Carol Douglas)

anthony james |

The early disco before United States was in Germany and France a group called
Silver Bird who became Silver Convention and they were girls who had cuts on there own like Linda Thompson
and Ramone Wolfe much earlier before penny mclean came along. the first disco song was Soul Makosa
Pillow Talk el bimbo number wonderfull and dancing to your music, and up ina puff of smoke those were the usa beginnings then came Gloria Gaynor Donna Summer Carol Doglas Viki Sue Roberta Kelly Grace Jones
celi Bee and many more TJ, Iwas 18 back then now older I the good old days what fu n it was better than todays music, TJ,

ROBERT S SCHELLY III |

LOVE HANGOVER

me |

What??? War does not belong here. "The Cisco Kid" was not disco, it was funk! There's is a big difference between funk and disco.

Donald Hill |

Hi Disco Fans!
The woman who wanted to now about "Harlem": may mean Harlem River Overdrive on a song called "Need You" in 1975 (Arista Records). I used to go to the 1270, knew Jimmy Stuard when he played there, which was great! Any song I liked I would jump up and down in front of his booth (Such As "Smile" by Simon Said) and would talk about it. I was very sad that he left Boston and to this day I remember his death as it left a big whole in my heart to this day- however I also got to know Danae, Wendy Hunt etc. The first 45 "disco mix" I got was; '"Dream World, by Don Downing. In those days I had to go to "Everett Music", in Everett, Mass to get them. If there was a disco song you liked, chances are they had it! I also saved up money for "Love Unlimited Orchestra" , Love Unlimited, Ecstasy Passion + Pain, and so on. Looking forward to hearing from you people from the "good Ol'disco Days!

discohistorian |

The first song with a true disco beat and tune has to be Na-Na-Na-Na Hey Hey Hey Good-bye that was first released by the group STEAM in 1969 anmd later re-released in 1975 0r 1976. Listen to it and I believe you will agree.

Ron S from NJ |

The song is "Corazon" by the LTD Exchange...
Should definitely make the list!

Jak |

Brings back great memories....I guess it depends on age and orientation. IMO the best dsco music in NY and San Francisco were the gay clubs. If in a club and they were playing Donna Summer,Barry White, Bee Gee's, or Abba, you were in a hetro white club and basically was the start of commercialized disco...the Hustle? HUH? Salsa disco?
Yes, the jackson's "forever came today," remixed by a great DJ was on the tail end of what I know as disco.
Tramps, Detroit Emmeralds, Intruders, O'Jays, Jerry Butler, it was a particular beat that had your blood surging!

Cerrone, Giorgio Moroder, syntho tech, was considered "bath house."
Also known to some as disco.

Carlos |

"The Theme of "Shaft"", "The Love I Lost"

Ron from New Jersey circa Mr. D's |

Looking to identify a Latin Disco song from the early 70's that was played in all
the Clubs... It had the words "Oye Son"... What was the song & artist?

Ron from New Jersey circa "The Joker", Suffern, NY 1973. |

Early disco started as Disco Funk... "Gonna have a funky good time" James Brown.
"I can understand it" Bobby Womack. "Feel the need" Detroit Emeralds. There is
a song that I'm trying to identify... It was latin w/ the words "Oye Son"... What is the name of the song & artist?

Andy725 |

One Night Affair was on Roulette Record label by Jay Black. I got to listen to a DJ on WBLS in NYC on the late 70's and early 80's. The WBLS Saturday Night Dance Party was hosted LIVE by Ted Currier. His talent for playing music was that they were so smooth and fluent!!! Ted kept me listening 'til 2 AM. I wish I still had my cassette tapes of his shows. They are truly worth Gold!!! As for Disco Music's first track, in my opinion, it would have to be Fly, Robin, Fly by the Silver Convention. Jimmy Sabater's To Be With You is second.

Nick Tan |

I remember these songs signaling the start of disco:
El Bimbo/ La Balangga - Bimbo Jet
The Hustle - Van McCoy
Rock The Boat - The Hues Corporation
Let's Do The Latin Hustle - Eddie Drennon & The BBS Unlimited
Overture/ Love Machine -The Miracles
Fly, Robin, Fly - Silver Convention
Brazil/ Dance With Me - Ritchie Family
When Will I See You Again - The Three Degree
Theme From Summer of '42 -Biddu Orchestra
T.S.O.P. - MFSB

Clubpunk |

"ONE NIGHT AFFAIR" by Jerry Butler (1972)

taylor |

If you can't dance to it IT....isn't disco song... ie Frankenstein... give me a break.......no way ball of confusion is a great song... but let me see you dance to it... ya can't...freddies dead I don't think so.. you need to rethink... that list

robertderlemcgee |

Death by disco!!! Trace, reluctantly we have to...

Thanos |

''Girl you need a change of mind '' by Eddie Kendricks from 1972,''Soul Makossa'' by Manu Dibango from 1972 ,''Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes from 1971 and ''Love Epidemic" by Trammps from 1973 have my vote.

david |

Whaaaaat?! No Diana Ross "Surrender"... Detroit Emeralds "Feel The Need"... Dramatics "What You See Is What You Get"... "Ecstasy Passion & Pain "Ask Me"...

Many of the songs listed above are too slow to be Disco, but I love this topic. I guess anything during or before 1973 qualifies if it has the right "vibe"

mixer167 |

what about crown heights affair- dreaming a dream/every beat of my heart. silver convention- fly robin fly, the main ingredient- just around the bend, the fatback band- Spanish hustle.i believe some records around 74 and 75 is where the main stream for disco came out. as far as the first? i would say "Love's theme" to my it was the foundation for euro and all disco music that followed .

Chris |

My Favorite songs also not mentioned are Van McCoy THE HUSTLE.....this song always reminds me of the first disco song!!
And what about my favorite song of all.........EVERYONES A WINNER by Hot Chocolate 1978!!!!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-GkwIRbLw8&feature=related

OldSkoolDj |

Two songs not mentioned on this list:

Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band (1974)
Do It (til You're Satisfied) - BT Express

The entire AWB album by Average White Band is soul and disco flavored. Not bad for a bunch of guys from Scotland!

BT Express is early funk, but it certainly got a lot of club play in 1974 and later. BT Express has a Wikipedia entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.T._Express


Roger |

I still think the first release of HONEYBEE by GLORIA GAYNOR on COLUMBIA RECORDS was the first true DISCO record because it got no if very little radio play but was wildly popular in discos in 1973/4. After seeing the success that a record could have with only club play record producers and executives took notice. Also Gloria's NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE cover was the first single to come SOLEY out of the clubs and onto radio and it did reach #1 in some markets, though #2 in most on pop charts.

DJ Disco Dave |

Wow, nice read... I guess MJ Dancing Machine has a big part in me. I used to Go home for lunch and dancing to this like crazy. There are so many listed above and all the memories thx. Leaving home at 16 and working midnight in 24hr gas bar I used to listen to WBLK Buffalo and Willie Dee. I even called him for requests. My Disco vinyl collection started in 1973 when I was nearly 17. I left the gas bar and got a job as a busboy at the Riverside, Oakville. Upstairs we had the Boathouse with live bands, all types, downstairs was the Disco with the lit up dance floor. I have kept and treasured all my records since. Now, Because of the dual clubs I had to obtain, 50 % 60's for Rock & Roll night, Rock records for I had to play this too and Disco for the Disco. Although the bar bought all the records, I still bought my collections so I had the opportunity to extend the songs. I was also lucky to be able to introduce, with a passion, disco, funk and motown to the rockers in between the bands sets. This chance was one in a life time. To expose our music to the hard core rockers crowd. I stopped buying records around 1986 as I changed careers to manage etc. the biggest clubs in Toronto until 2000 when I left the business. A lot more happened in between too...another story later.

Grant Burnside |

I think a lot of people are confused! People danced to james brown in the sixties, even to Sam Cooke in the late 50's, but these were not 'disco' records! Surely the term 'disco' is defined by records which were aimed directly at the dancefloor, with that 'four-to-the-floor' beat - a sound much hated by soul purists.

The truest disco tunes were churned out a bit later than most on this list. Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Biddu, Cerrone, Alec Costandinos, the Salsoul stuff, the TK stuff . . . . . I know it's hard to admit and a lot of DJ's/people feel a little embarassed by these admissions of guilt, but come on guys, if it weren't for the likes of these artists and producers we would not have rap, hip-hop, techno or however you want to divide it all up today.

Go listen to Donna Summer's 'Wasted' and tell me that ain't pure early D.I.S.C.O.!!!!

Jo Ann |

My first club on Staten Island. I heard the song Where Do We Go From Here by the Traamps. Zing Went the Strings of My Heart was on that album. That was my first disco album. That night I remember dancing to Sideshow by Blue Magic. I only know that when I discovered a club to dance in...I started buying any record I could. There was a small store in the mid 40's near Lexington Avenue in NYC. The owner would get 4 or 5 new 45's each week and I would stop in and buy anything I could. Some records were only played in clubs and never made it to the top 10. One group...ugh can't remember something "Harlem". I bought Lady Bump, Date With the Rain by Eddie Kendricks, can't think of all of them..At 53, my memory is going...but when I hear a song somehow I can sing along and remember the lyrics. I absolutely love this site...Thank you so much

Gilberto Gaia |

There's no way to not agree: Gives us a lot to talk about doesn't it! Consider that I'm talking from Brazil, and, then and now, things take a little or great time to go out from USA and to land here... of course, at net era it happens faster each day.. but, 30 years ago...

Giving this explanation, for me, as a Brazilian guy, the first disco tune was Brazil (I know, will tell me patriotic even in a matter like this), that I knew was recorded by Ritchie Family, but just now at net time I discovered that Salsoul Orchestra plays the theme, as Ritchie girls only sung. At the almost same time, the true Ritchie big hit, and one of the greatest from disco, Best Disco in Town, that remained at the charts here more than an year (Brazil almost reached the same) exactly due for the lyrics and the mixing of great hits at that time, make this great disco tune the first one here. Sound your funky horn could be considered the one, and I agree with this first position, Zing, but the K.C first cut played here, and Zing, which made part of a soap opera soundtrack in 1975, did'n had the same success, so I vote in Ritchie Family referred tunes...

florian |

how about FATBACK BAND - GOIN TO SEE MY BABY ?!? funk-based tune with a straight 4/4 beat it is 100% disco already and it is from 1972, one year before BOHANNON released STOP & GO (the next step in my opinion)

Dwayne Holt |

Eddie Kendricks "Girl you need a change of mind was one of the first records that was mixed like a disco record.

marco from new york |

I GOTTA TELL YA HAROLD MELVIN 'THE LOVE I LOST' & BAD LUCK TAKE THE CAKE...VAN MCCOY 'DO THE HUSTLE WAS A CLASSIC TOO.ALL DISCO WAS GREAT-FOREVER CAME TODAY; A JACKSON SONG MOST PEOPLE DONT REMEMBER WAS A GREAT ONE TOO; VOYAGE; SALSOUL ORCH;BARRY WHITE ;THE TRAMPS; ILL ALWAYS LOVE MY MAMA BY THE INTRUDERS-BEST! THIS IS A NO WIN !!!!!I ENJOYED ALL OF THEM-HUNG AT DECAMERON ;LATIQUE; UNCLE SAMS; ENCHANTED GARDEN[I KNEW STEVE RUBELL B4 HE OPENED 54}IN DOUGLASTON QUEENS;PENRODS; CHANNEL 80;RUMORS; FOCOS; ZACHARYS; ETC MARK DONOHOE PHOENIX AZ

terri |

This is a terrific list and a fascinating subject. I'm no expect on disco music but I wish I was! I was 9 years old in 1974 and I remember a couple more songs that made an impact on me. One is "Dancing Machine" by the Jackson Five. I don't know if it's really disco but I remember it really stood out as a dance tune. Also, "Rock Your Baby", by George McCrae, seems like an early disco song to me. I only wish your list included the years. Thanks!

vyniljunkie |

I really must agree, the longer I look at him (Edgar Winter)on that list, the more I want to do some LSD? I don't do things like that?? Maybe it was the song that was played, I played it, so did Jimmy Burgess, Larry Lavan and probably thousands of others. Remember, we played ANYTHING, and I really mean ANYTHING, that was danceable. But I do get stoned just reading that name on this list!!--- The SALSOUL ORCHESTRA was much later, after DISCO was on a roll. TANGERINE was their first hit, that came out in 74 or 75? AL GREEN, he was considered FUNK/SOUL, but I did play a lot of his great stuff. Herbie Mann? What did give us? He was a great studio musician at the beginning of DISCO, 1972 or so. I can't think of any SINGLE release he had in the early seventies. Refresh my memory, I have been burning out too many brain cells just thinking about EDGAR WINTER!!

steve Compton (the old queen from Detroit) |

What about:
Al Green
Herbie Mann
Salsoul Orchestra

Sorry, I can't accept EDGAR WINTER "FRANKENSTEIN" Too hippy for me.

vyniljunkie |

A lot of deejays considered SOUL MAKOSSA the first song, a lot told me that while they played it, it isn't a DISCO song. That is argumentative, I first believed that SOUL MAKOSSA was before DISCO, I since have changed my mind, it does belong on this list. It, according to the numbers I came up with, would come in the top three!!It gathered a 75 percent share of all responders. That puts it in a tie with Curtis Mayfield. Now RAIN 2000 by TITANIC was also played at that time, but it failed to get enough votes to get included. I feel that it was among the first DISCO songs as well. So, this list, is not perfect, but it gets us talking about it!!

playball54 |

Why is Soul Makossa by Manu Dibango NOT in the list? Many historians consider this the first record

tomllewis |

For me, the top 3 were:

Love Train by The O'Jays, Bad Luck & The Love I Lost by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and Love's Theme by The Unlimited Orchestra. Soul Makoosa was a strong hit as was Rock The Boat also.

vyniljunkie |

Two other songs that didn't make the list could have. SOUL MAKOOSA and RAIN 2000, while pre-disco, should have made this list. It was tough to exclude them, but they were released before the term DISCO came into existence in 1972. Still, I think I should have included them. Sorry!

vyniljunkie |

There are two records on this list that I should talk about. In the early seventies, the ROCK group EDGAR WINTER released FRANKENSTEIN, some may question it being on this list. DAN HARTMAN was a member of that group, his DISCO influence comes shinning through in an obvious fashion. That led this song to be played EXCLUSIVELY in DISCOS, enough so that many remembered and added it when talking about the music they played back then. The other is the SHOCKING BLUE, and VENUS. While not a DISCO group, VENUS was a DISCO song, they just didn't know it would be. It too, was played in heavy-rotation at DISCOS! It could be "Dance-able ROCK", but it was mentioned enough, that I believe it worthy of being included. It was the volume of responses that put it on this list. That hopefully, will answer your questions and sub-due your doubts.

 

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