From time to time, someone comes along onto this site who just doesn’t get it. They read what Ears To The House publishes about the origins of Detroit techno and are just left wondering what we’re up to. Quite simply, we have no agenda here other than finding out the truth – and asking questions when things don’t stack up.
Let’s give one or two examples here. When Juan Atkins claims to be the originator of techno, we don’t simply believe we should accept him at his word. We believe this claim should be tested against the evidence available – and when new evidence emerges, it should be measured against this accordingly. This is how historians operate, and have done for thousands of years.
This site has previously questioned the claim by Chicago producer Jesse Saunders that 1984 release “On And On” was the first house track. The man himself has posted this on social media many times and proudly defended his own record when faced with questions. This is a lesson which Juan Atkins – instead of throwing about fatuous legal threats – should learn.
Another example is how we have demonstrated on this site that Derrick May cannot play on the piano. We did this by looking through the evidence. May himself could have easily disproved us by sending us footage which clearly showed him playing chords with his own hands – had he done so, we would have published it and happily apologised for suggesting otherwise.
On the wider question of Detroit techno’s history, we say it’s time for the full truth to be heard. For instance, all three men of the so-called Belleville Three – Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May – have repeatedly spoken about how black musicians have repeatedly been sidelined or played down in favour of white ones. They are, of course, undoubtedly correct.
Yet the Belleville Three concept in the first place comes from a British music journalist in the 1980s. In other words, if it wasn’t for a white British man, they might not be anywhere near as well known as they are today. Another chasm in the story is how they obtained all this expensive equipment for making music in the first place.
The truth, of course, is that the money was raised from a credit card scam. We know this for a fact because Michael James – a one-time friend of Derrick May who first brought news of the multiple allegations of sexual abuse against him to the world – was there when May was first arrested by police in relation to it.
Ears To The House has no vendetta against anyone. We simply believe that the full, totally unvarnished story of Detroit techno’s roots should be spread far and wide. Not least because the true story is much, much more interesting than the heavily sanitised version which has been allowed to spread for over three decades.
The places of the so-called Belleville Three are now safe in the history of dance music, for better or worse. What do they have to fear – or even lose – from the full story being made public now?