top of page

Late 80’s / Early 1990’s House Music


During this period, America’s House Music DJ’s and producers began to tour overseas.  DJ’s like Frankie Knuckles, Steve “JM Silk” Hurley and New Jersey’s Tony Humphries toured the UK and Europe playing House Music at clubs and fashion shows for famous designers and receiving extended residencies.  Humphries began a residency at London’s recently opened Ministry of Sound and didn’t return to America for several years. 


As the UK and parts of Europe had played a part in creating the sound which influenced the creation of House Music, it was natural for them to embrace this brand of dance music.  Techno born in Detroit began sweeping Germany.  Techno was created by seminal Detroit producers which include Derrick “Mayday” May, Kevin Saunderson and Jaun “Magic Wand” Atkins.  Groups like NYC’s A Guy Called Gerald followed and the Techno sound sold big.  Techno was a more stripped down version of House Music, often with less vocals and a greater emphasis on beat syncopation with multiple layers of rhythms.  Fueled by a drug culture which had been a part of the club scene since the mid 1970’s, psychedelic drugs and early Techno music were in lockstep with each other.  Rave culture in America began on the west coast and huge events were held in secret desert locations until dawn.  Some of the early west coast Techno DJ’s were imported from Chicago. 


The east coast jumped back in the game as if they had never left when Baltimore’s Basement Boys launched the career of Crystal Waters with her smash hit Gypsy Woman and House Music emerged from the underground and regained some of its mainstream appeal.  Two New York City House Music record labels stepped up and took center stage in the early 1990’s.  Strictly Rhythm and Nervous Records launched the careers of Little Louie Vega and several other DJ’s turned producers.  Nervous and Strictly Rhythm produced a steady flow of House Music through the 1990’s and dominated the industry until the mid 2000’s. 


Chicago record labels also contributed to the dance music releases from the period with Large Records, Casual Records, Prescription Records and others.  In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Hip House (a merger of Hip Hop and House, with hip hop rhymes delivered to House Music and/or Freestyle tracks at what would usually be considered a House Music/Freestyle tempo) launched the careers of Fast Eddie, Tyree Cooper and Mr. Lee.  NYC’s Paradise Garage closes in 1987 and Timmy Regisford starts the Shelter in NYC circa 1990.


Links to songs which are examples of music from this period include:


Big Fun – Inner City -

Break for Love – Raze -

That’s The Way Love Is – Ten City -

Everybody Everybody – Black Box -

I’ll Be Your Friend – Robert Owens -

Club Lonely – Lil Louis -

bottom of page