Rewind to 1977: Frankie Knuckles has just opened The Warehouse in Chicago’s Southside and he’s playing an original blend of disco, funk, soul, R&B and electro records. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city Ron Hardy was spinning a mix of similar tunes at Den One and, later, Muzic Box. House music, Chicago’s greatest musical export, had just been born.
To pay homage to this moment in music history, publishers Almighty & Insane Books have released a compilation of flyers and house-related ephemera from the years 1983–1989. Titled Beyond Heaven (2018), the collection visually documents some of the key players as well as lesser-known DJs in the emerging house scene.
House was very much a youth movement. This poster documents when Steve ‘J.M. Silk’ Hurley performed at the De La Salle High School gymnasium in the Bronzeville neighbourhood of Chicago.
‘Kings of House’ Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy are celebrated in this poster from 1986. These two pioneers of the genre developed and popularized the sound of house music in their respective clubs The Warehouse and The Muzic Box.
This document is a new arrivals list for Importes Etc., the first record store to designate a section for house music. This list made it easy for customers to find records and tapes that were played at The Warehouse.
This poster advertises a night featuring house music originals Pharris Thomas, Lil Louis and Andre Hatchett. Hatchett was a member of the Chosen Few, a group of DJs including his Tony Hatchett, Alan King, Wayne Williams, and Jesse Saunders. Saunder’s song On and On (1984) is widely considered the first house music release on vinyl.
UPC, or ‘Ultimate Party Crew’, was one of many groups that helped to organize and promote house music events in the Lower West Side of Chicago. Mario ‘Liv It Up Luna’, whose collection the flyers in Beyond Heaven are pulled from, was a member, and often a DJ, at these parties.
The Hot Mix 5 were largely responsible for popularizing house music across Chicago. Their live mixes on local radio station WBMX reached one million listeners a week.
This poster from 1987 advertises an awards ceremony for some of the biggest names in house music to receive their accolades.
Ron Hardy was a key influence on the origins of house music. The DJ began his career in the mid 1970’s DJing at Chicago gay club Den One. After a stint in Los Angeles, he returned to Chicago to become resident at a new incarnation of The Warehouse named The Muzic Box. Hardy’s style was more experimental than Frankie Knuckles’. He played tracks backwards, pitched up, multiple times, and very loud. Hardy debuted many original house songs in his sets, provided by artists on acetates and tapes.