Over the weekend, Mr C – real name Richard West – posted something on his Facebook page which we’re honestly not sure how to interpret. One side of the Ears To The House team thinks West made this statement because he seriously believes it. The other just suspects he had one eye on the social media platform’s algorithm.
His full post simply read “Juan Atkins is the originator of techno!”. Quite whether he made the statement because Atkins threatened him with a defamation suit – like he did to us recently – is unknown. But it seems to have brought an awful lot of curmudgeons whose determination to hang onto dying old stories has only strengthened as they got older.
They grew up in the era of the 1990s dance music magazines, and they believed everything printed in them was the gospel. Hence why when they endlessly repeated the story of the Belleville Three during that era – a story first concocted by British music journalist Neil Rushton in 1988 – they thought the story was true. After all, no one questioned it at the time, did they?
Indeed they didn’t – but that’s because even in their heyday, the dance music magazines were too close to the people they reported on. And it’s a disease which has got worse in the digital era. For the dance music press, qualities like integrity and the truth are readily put aside so they can retain the access they desire to the PR firms and DJs who don’t even particularly like them anyway.
The fact the Belleville Three story is being questioned is no surprise – Jesse Saunders often puts up a staunch defence whenever anyone queried his claim that he released the first house record available commercially on vinyl. Doesn’t the fact May, Atkins and Saunderson don’t respond in a similar way tell you something? But when all else fails, it seems you can rely on techno DJ Ben Sims – whose aliases include Ron Bacardi and Crackerjack – to throw a red herring into the debate…
That’s right, you did read that correctly. In a desperate attempt to shore up his crumbling position and to presumably look really woke, Sims claims that anyone challenging the Belleville Three narrative is being racist. Yes, it now appears anyone questioning the record of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May is now showing a hatred of Black people.
This person had a pretty good response to his nonsense…
For the sake of “Grandpa Sims”, let’s help him out and explain why he’s so cataclysmically wrong. For starters, Blake Baxter has been involved with Detroit techno since pretty much the beginning – he describes the mere notion of the Belleville Three as “a fairytale”. In case you haven’t seen a photo of Baxter before, he is clearly a Black man.
Michael James, who has been asking questions about the Detroit trio for far longer than Ears To The House, is also Black. The same is true of several others from Detroit who have known for years that the story was nonsense. And almost everyone asking questions when they started emerging a few years ago was also Black – are we meant to believe they’re somehow committing an act of racism on themselves
Even Juan Atkins revealed in 1994 that he wasn’t responsible for coining the term “techno” first, nor being its originator. Which begs the question – and it’s not just what happened to the humble Juan Atkins of 1994. Why is it these grown men, who can supposedly think for themselves, willingly believe these myths about Detroit techno? And why is their only response to anyone with a different view is personal abuse or red herrings?
A few months ago, Mr C ended up in quite a visceral online spat with DJ Pierre – a dispute we’ve been told only ended once solicitors threatened to get involved. He mentioned at the time that you shouldn’t “disagree with DJ Pierre as he will label you a racist”. Funny how the bullying Mr C won’t give someone a dressing down for using this tactic when it suits his argument…