Those of you who have been paying attention will already know that the Belleville Three cover story – peddled without question by the useless dance music press for decades – is largely a myth. Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Derrick May may well have studied at Belleville High School, but this is where the story departs from reality.
The fiction is that these three poor black men came together and changed the world by creating a new genre of music. The less savoury reality is that these three guys, who were all from relatively well off families, created music together on equipment which was mostly paid for out of a credit card scam in the 1980s.
The story appears to have mostly the creation of Neil Rushton, a British man who worked the A&R department at Virgin Records at the time. Since then, the tale has been regularly repeated in the dance music press – and despite the story’s accuracy being questioned more and more online, you won’t find the media covering the latest developments.
Infact, here’s Resident Advisor’s editor-in-chief Whitney Wei parroting the Belleville Three myth in her latest article…
“This genre’s long legacy of innovation can be traced back to the early 20th century, when composers began experimenting with using electricity to create new noises… In the 1960s and 1980s, electronic music began to mutate and splinter into unprecedented sounds, with artists such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder pioneering synth-pop and disco, respectively, and then the Belleville Three contributing to the Afrofuturist canon in the form of Detroit techno.”
Will the press ever acknowledge the real background of Detroit techno? Will a day come when they finally discuss the roles of names such as Thomas Barnett, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes and Rik Davis? And will anyone ever be brave enough to ask the so-called Belleville Three exactly why they’re so keen to keep the glory entirely to themselves?
If it ever does happen, it won’t be Whitney Wei’s Resident Advisor leading the charge…