Believe it or not, but there was a time when Detroit based DJ and producer Derrick May was a truly unstoppable force of nature. His diary was filled with hundreds of gigs every single year, his fee was comfortably in large five-figure territory and his place in dance music history was assured due to songs like “Nude Photo” and “Strings Of Life”.
A mythical status surrounded the man himself, something which he actively played up to in interviews with the media over the years. He stopped releasing music altogether in 1992, for reasons which were never satisfactorily explained. Yet his support for others in techno saw him effectively become a kind of father figure for newcomers in the scene.
For a while, it seemed May’s place in dance music history was pretty much guaranteed. But over the past few years, things started to unravel. Voices from the past whom May wronged in various ways discovered that they could now get their versions of events out into the public domain – no longer were they dependent on gatekeeper journalists who chose what they did and didn’t report.
Hence we found out that “Nude Photo” was actually produced by Thomas Barnett before he met Derrick May. Barnett told Ears To The House that “[May] did do the actual engineering and mix” and he also provided some of the drum patterns used. And the piano central to “Strings Of Life” was not a May creation – it was sampled from an eight minute composition called “Lightning Strikes Twice” by Michael James.
But worse was to come. In 2019, a number of women contacted the aforementioned Michael James to tell stories of their mistreatment at the hands of Derrick May. He started publishing their accounts early in 2020 – and in September of that year, the mainstream dance music press started running details of equally harrowing and distressing allegations ranging from sexual assault to rape. May denies the allegations, of course.
Since the allegations have emerged, the reaction of the dance music world has been a curious one. Disappointingly, there has been little condemnation of the man himself – but May’s diary is now a lot less full than it was. But how much less is in it now?
Well, Ears To The House understands he has a total of three gigs in the diary for 2022. The first took place recently at Sound nightclub. He’s also due to appear at the Pitchfork sponsored Tribeca Festival in June – a third gig has been confirmed for later in the year by ETTH sources, but details are currently scant.
As we revealed last year, May has now resorted to a policy of deliberately concealing his appearance until as close to the date as possible. And the fact he has virtually no gigs occasionally arises on his social media pages – usually to lame excuses such as this…
May doesn’t want his own fans to know just how much he’s fallen…