The Electrifying Mojo
There's a whole host of web sites out there where you can read about Mojo, but basically he was a very creative, maverick, trend-setting DJ and radio personality who was very popular in the Detroit, southeast Michigan, and Canada area from 1977 through the mid-1980s. He was very special and many copied him. He introduced me to funk and artist battles. And by funk, I mean the early hiphop funk - Whodini, Afrika Bambaataa, Twilight 22, Soul Sonic Force’s "Planet Rock", etc. If you want to read a more complete description of The Electrifying Mojo, I've written more about him, his show and influence on Detroit and music here.
Very often his show would start at 10:00 PM with sound effects and him describing the "Landing of the Mothership" followed by dialogue and music. After this, he might play a variety of music. He was well-known for playing both black and traditionally white music on a largely African American radio station channel. Ready for the World (Oh Sheila and Digital Display), Thomas Dolby (Get Out of my Mix - Dolby's Cube), Yes, disco games like I'm Ready by Kano, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, The Gap Band, The Time, Zapp, Abacab by Phil Collins, the Situation by Yazoo, All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, Promises Promises by Naked Eyes, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He was thanked in the studio on the air by the J. Geils Band for playing Frame Thrower (and awesome song) while everyone else in the country was playing "Centerfold" and "Freeze Frame". He knew hit songs before they were hits.
Throughout his career, Mojo refused to adhere to radio station formats. He played a blend of the best in soul, funk, new wave, pop, rock, disco, rap, hiphop, rap, and rock. He played largely unyet discovered artists who would later become famous. He introduced, or "broke" many artists into the Detroit market: Prince, the B-52, and Kraftwerk. He was a hard-core Prince fan and would often play him for hours, both entire albums and B sides. He also gave extended airtime to the new local sounds in Detroit. He loved the B-52 "Mesopotamia" so one time Mojo had the B-52’s on the air for an interview and they did an impromptu, off-tempo rendition of "Mesopotamia."
Detroit is said to the the birthplace of techno and Mojo is cited by many of the founders of techno and an influence in their music. The trio of artists widely cited as the founders of Detroit Techno, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May have all made mention of Mojo's influence on their musical development, as have second generation Techno artists like Richie Hawtin (Plastikman), Jeff Mills (The fm98 Wizard) and Carl Craig. Mojo was an early supporter of the Detroit Techno sound, playing tracks like Cybotron's (Juan Atkins) "Cosmic Cars," Derrick May's "Strings of Life" and "Good Life" by Kevin Saunderson's Inner City.
A typical night with Mojo might look like this:
10:00pm – The Landing of the Mothership. This was the intro to each show with spaceship sound effects and related dialog. Sometimes the music heard during the first hour was indicative of what you'd hear that night; sometimes it would be completely random.
11:00pm – Awesome '84, '85. In the mid eighties, Mojo played an hour of brand new music (hence the year in the title) and a lot of new songs were introduced.
11:30pm – Lover's Lane. A half an hour of "slow jams" for lovers.
12:00am – The Midnight Funk Association. Consisted regularly of Parliament-Funkadelic, The Gap Band, Whodini, Afrika Bambaataa, Soul Sonic Force’s "Planet Rock", Zapp and other funk bands of the era.
1:00am to 3:00am (2:00 am on Saturday nights), Mojo's show was different every night. Sometimes, the MFA would stretch well beyond 1:00am, other times Mojo would introduce segments such as:
Star Wars – A classic "artist vs. artist" set, where Mojo would alternate selections from two different groups or artists, and the listeners would call in to vote for their favorite.
Journey – Sometimes a multi-night segment, where Mojo played songs by a single artist or group, spanning their entire career. This usually included a mix of hits and obscure songs by that artist.
Shout-out – Everyone that called into the station during his show was the recipient of a "shout-out". He would go on for as long as it took rattling off the first names of every single person who had called in to the show.
35-35-35 – Mojo would take suggestions from listeners about their favorite artists and bands. He then would choose the three most popular groups that night and play thirty-five minutes, commercial-free, of each group. This segment often gave airtime to groups that no other radio station in Detroit played.
Common intro: "Will the members of the Midnight Funk Association please rise. Please go to your porch light and turn it on for the next hour to show us your solidarity. If you're in your car please honk your horn and flash your lights, wherever you are. If you're in bed, get ready to dance on your back, in Technicolor. And get ready for the MFA. The word is... Hold on tight, don't let go. Whenever you feel like you're nearing the end of your rope, don't slide off. Tie a knot. Keep hanging, keep remembering, that it ain't nobody bad like you. This session of the International Midnight Funk Association is being called to order. Electrifying Mojo presiding. May the Funk be with you. Always..."