The Best Books For DJs

February 13, 2021
Written by
Buster Bennett
The Best Books For DJs

Find the best books for DJs!

Apart from books about DJ skills and learning how to DJ there is a wealth of books about DJ culture, history and DJs themselves. This list makes essential reading for any of the students on our DJ course and we recommend that all DJs get their hands on some of these amazing books for DJs.

The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club by Peter Hook

This is a book for all DJs interested in rave and the history of clubbing! It contains some hilarious anecdotes and will help you learn from their mistakes! Well, if you consider running one of the most famous clubs in history a mistake!

Peter Hook, as co-founder of Joy Division and New Order, has been shaping the course of popular music for thirty years. He provided the propulsive bass guitar melodies of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and the bestselling 12-inch single ever, 'Blue Monday' among many other songs. As co-owner of Manchester's Hacienda club, Hook propelled the rise of acid house in the late 1980s, then suffered through its violent fall in the 1990s as gangs, drugs, greed and a hostile police force destroyed everything he and his friends had created. This is his memory of that era and 'it's far sadder, funnier, scarier and stranger' than anyone has imagined.

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (updated): The History of the Disc Jockey by Bill Brewster

If you're looking for a complete history, from the first record ever played to the modern day DJ industry this is the book for you. This book will give new DJs a firm knowledge of the history of DJing from an unbiased perspective.

The DJ was born on Christmas Eve, 1906 when Reginald Fessenden became the first person to play a record over the radio. A century later and the DJ is the central figure in popular music. From these humble 'talking jukebox' origins to today's DJ superstars earning rock star salaries with a fanbase to match, the history of the DJ is fascinating and unpredictable. The story of these unlikely cultural icons takes the reader through the swinging sixties, through the sequinned revolution that was disco, via hip hop and house to mass-market global domination.

The Second Summer of Love: How Dance Music Took Over the World by Alon Shulman

'Brilliantly woven collection of aural histories ... a damn fine read' - DJ MAG

This is another UK-centric view of the history of DJing and rave culture. It tells the story of the second summer of love and the birth of rave culture. A must read for any DJ in the UK if not the world.

In 1987, four friends from London, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker, took a week-long holiday to Ibiza. What they saw there, and brought back home, would give rise to a new global music and counterculture movement.As the eighties drew to their close, with Thatcherism holding the nation tight in its grip, something funny was happening right across the jungle of Britain's nightlife scene. People were dressing down, not up, to go to clubs. And they were dancing right through the night armed seemingly with only bottles of water. Ecstasy and acid house music had arrived on British shores, and a tribal battle between for the moral future of the nation, between the youth and the establishment, had begun.

Adventures In Wonderland: Acid house, rave and the UK club explosion by Sheryl Garratt

"The book about rave culture that you can't afford not to read." - The Face

If you loved The Second Summer Of Love you will also love this history of the Acid House movement. Again, it's a very UK-centric view of DJ culture so for a bigger world view you will need to read other books and dig deeper into the roots of music.

Former editor of The Face and one of the few journalists writing about clubs in any detail in the 1980s, Sheryl Garratt weaves her own experiences in with hundreds of exclusive interviews with everyone involved. She talks about Ibizan clubs and the Wigan Casino, the key role of reggae and soul sound systems, and the one-nighters and illegal warehouse parties of 1980s clubland. Tracing the music back to its roots in New York, Chicago and Detroit, she reports from the underground clubs in those cities and offers in-depth interviews with its originators, from Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson and Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk to Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins.

Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music by Matthew Collin

Now you know a lot about the birth of rave culture in the UK you can spread your wings and look at the bigger picture of how the ripples of rave are now flowing through mainstream global culture. This book will help you put EDM into per

Electronic dance music was once the utopian frontier of pop culture. But three decades after the acid house 'summer of love', it has gone from subculture to the global mainstream. Does it still have the same power to inspire? From the pleasure palaces of Ibiza and Las Vegas to 'new frontiers' like Shanghai and Dubai, raving is now a multi-million-dollar business. But there are still hardcore believers upholding its DIY ethos - the techno idealists of Berlin and Detroit and the queer-subcults of New York, the post-apartheid party people of South Africa and the outlaw techno travellers of France.

The Secret DJ & The Secret DJ 2

Want to know more about the DJ lifestyle itself? This revealing book will give you an insight into the lives of DJs and behind the curtains of the clubbing and music industry. Get VIP access to this book, The Secret DJ.

The glamour, the parties, the excess, the highs and, of course, the lows. In The Secret DJ, a globally renowned DJ takes us on a breakneck journey, plunging us into a life lived in the hedonistic fast lane of club culture over the last thirty years, from the dawn of acid house to the dusk of EDM. Whether playing to ten thousand fans in Ibiza's superclubs or in a local pub function room, this DJ's experiences are a cautionary tale - an addictive and shockingly honest account of the hidden world behind the DJ booth.

The Secret DJ returns with the follow-up to their acclaimed debut book. Less a sequel and more a panoramic wide-angle painting of the biggest youth movement in human history, The Secret DJ: Book Two charts the rise of dance music over the last 30 years and its connection to western capitalism and culture. While never claiming to be instrumental, The Secret DJ was around for every stage of the journey and is a continually wry observer of this unstoppable growth. The Secret DJ's signature humour and wit is ever-present in this ascent, charting personal ups and downs as well as the buying and selling of the acid house revolution. Covering topics as wide as drugs, music production, anthropology, the gentrification of the scene, technology, travel, fame, devaluation, inflation, relationships, technique, festivals, rejection, social media, situationism and hypernormalisation; almost no aspect of the last four decades go unmentioned in terms of what we know today as Electronic Dance Music.

Der Klang der Familie: Berlin, Techno and the Fall of the Wall by Felix Denk & Sven Von Thulen

Berlin is often seen as the European home of Techno music and the beat runs deep in the German capitals counter-culture. This book gives real insight into how the music genre has shaped and interacted with the cities fabric. Essential reading for anyone interested in European politics and the fall of the wall.

Piecing together interviews with a wide range of party promoters, DJs, musicians, and scenesters, Denk and von Thülen—editors at Zitty and De:Bug, respectively—recount the story of Berlin techno from the 1980s through the late 1990s: Ufo, E-Werk, Tresor, the Berlin-Detroit connection, Loveparade, and more.

Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco by Peter Shapiro

It's essential for all you rave fans to realise that EDM fundamentally came from Disco. Find out how Disco influenced the world of music and how the beat goes on!

Disco emerged from the fall-out of the Black Power Movement and an almost exclusively gay scene in a blaze of poppers, strobe lights, tight trousers, hysterical diva vocals and synthesized beats in the late sixties. As a genre, disco radically re-defined the sensibility of the seventies to the extent where reactionary rockers felt the need to launch a paranoid 'Disco Sucks' campaign at the end of the decade. Featuring artists such as Chic, Sylvester, Donna Summer and Frank Grasso, Turn the Beat Around illustrates why and how disco changed the face of popular culture forever.

Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980 -1983 by Tim Lawrence

Dive deeper into the disco-era with this epic read on the New York dance floors!

As the 1970s gave way to the 80s, New York's party scene entered a ferociously inventive period characterized by its creativity, intensity, and hybridity. Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor chronicles this tumultuous time, charting the sonic and social eruptions that took place in the city's subterranean party venues as well as the way they cultivated breakthrough movements in art, performance, video, and film. Interviewing DJs, party hosts, producers, musicians, artists, and dancers, Tim Lawrence illustrates how the relatively discreet post-disco, post-punk, and hip hop scenes became marked by their level of plurality, interaction, and convergence. He also explains how the shifting urban landscape of New York supported the cultural renaissance before gentrification, Reaganomics, corporate intrusion, and the spread of AIDS brought this gritty and protean time and place in American culture to a troubled denouement.

Pump up the Volume: A History of House Music by Sean Bidder

Now you understand Disco it's time to learn about House! Complete the journey with the best literary guide for house music fans.

House Generation tells the story of the social and cultural explosion that was House. From its roots in Chicago, where it grew out of the ashes of Disco. House music has risen to become the soundtrack to every fashion show, after-show party, premiere and club opening around the world. Today, House is used by many of the leading mainstream music stars - Madonna, Kylie Minogue, U2, Boy George - to break new markets and update their sound, and has influenced more people than any style since rock 'n' roll. The series will take the story from Chicago and New York via Ibiza to Britain, interviewing key players on both sides of the Atlantic including Alfredo. Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and the people behind the superclubs like Ministry of Sound and Cream. It will also consider the social effect of House - a sound that has transcended all class, race and cultural boundaries, to become the soundtrack of modern popular culture.

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers by Juby Jean-Yves Leloup, Gemma Curtin & Maria McLintock

Book From The Exhibition

This book accompanies the Design Museums recent exhibition entitles 'Electronic.' It documents and contextualises the rise of electronic music and delves deep into the history of dance music.

At more than 120 bpm, electronic music sets the tempo on dancefloors around the globe. Accompanying the exhibition Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers, this book offers an insight into the visual culture of electronic music, and how technology, design, art and fashion have contributed to its power. With its roots in Detroit and Chicago in the early 1980s, electronic dance music was popularised across Europe through underground rave parties. Its impact on contemporary culture is still unfolding today. Containing interviews with early pioneers such as techno legend Jeff Mills, The Designers Republic’s Ian Anderson, and those pushing the political dimension of electronic music, such as ballroom dancer and DJ Kiddy Smile, Electronic bears witness to the shifting nature of the genre.

Join the Future: Bleep Techno and the Birth of British Bass Music by Matt Anniss

A lot has happened in dance music since the birth of rave. This book delves into the branches that grew from the tree along the way. This is an excellent book for all fans of UK dance music.

Since the dawn of the 1990s, British dance music has been in thrall to the seductive power of weighty sub-bass. It is a key ingredient in a string of British-pioneered genres, including hardcore, jungle, drum & bass, dubstep, UK garage and grime. In Join The Future, dance music journalist Matt Anniss traces the roots, origins, development and legacy of the sound that started it all: the first distinctively British form of electronic dance music, bleep techno. A mixture of social, cultural, musical and oral history, Join The Future reveals the untold stories of bleep's Yorkshire pioneers and those that came in their wake, moving from electro all-dayers and dub soundsystem clashes of the mid-1980s to the birth of hardcore and jungle in London and the South East. Along the way, you'll find first-hand accounts of key clubs and raves, biographies of forgotten and overlooked production pioneers, stories of bleep outposts in Canada and the United States, and the inside story of the early years of one of electronic musics most iconic labels, Warp Records.

Bass, Mids, Tops: An Oral History of Sound System Culture by Joe Muggs

This is another fascinating insight into the world of sound-system culture in the UK music scene. It's an eye-opening oral history and an enlightening read!

An oral history of the UK's soundsystem culture, featuring interviews with Dubmaster Dennis Bovell, Skream, Youth, Norman Jay MBE, Adrian Sherwood, Mala, and others. In the years following the arrival of the Windrush generation, the UK's soundsystem culture would become the most important influence on contemporary pop music since rock and roll. Pumped through towering, home-built speakers, often directly onto the thronged streets of events like the Notting Hill Carnival, the pulsating bass lines of reggae, dub, rave, jungle, trip hop, dubstep, and grime have shaped the worlds of several generations of British youth culture but have often been overlooked by historians obsessed with swinging London, punk, and Britpop. This oral history, consisting of new interviews conducted by respected dance music writer Joe Muggs, and accompanied by dramatic portraits by Brian David Stevens, presents the story of the bassline of Britain, in the words of those who lived and shaped it. Features interviews with Dubmaster Dennis Bovell, Norman Jay MPE, Youth, Adrian Sherwood, Skream, Rinse FM's Sarah Lockhart and many others.

It's a London thing: How rare groove, acid house and jungle remapped the city by Caspar Melville

This book is rare and special. It combines loving appreciation of Londons overlooked black music scenes with a richly detailed social history of their place in the evolving life of our city.

Caspar Melville knows because he was there. Paul Gilroy is a recovering vinyl junkie who teaches at UCL I've waited decades for a book like this to be written. Turning each page is like digging through the crates. Important connections, intersections and black sonic samples are weaved throughout the text like a seamless mix. Black British music deserves this kind of attention. It's an important piece of the puzzle of DJ and Club culture that has yet to be assembled in its entirety. Lynnée Denise is a renowned DJ and lecturer in African American studies at UCLA Caspar goes in deep! I am so proud to be part of the London clubland story he tells. Gilles Peterson is a club and BBC radio DJ and founder of Brownswood Recordings and Worldwide FM Its a London thing tells the story of the black music culture that emerged in post-colonial London at the end of the twentieth century; the people who made it, the racial and spatial politics of its development and change and the part it played in founding Londons precious, embattled multiculture. Melville explores the dance cultures of soul and reggae in the 1970s, rare groove and acid house in the 1980s and jungle and its off-shoots in the 1990s. The book argues that these demonstrate enough commonality to be seen as one musical continuum, and that the political and social importance of this form of popular art puts London firmly on the map as a global centre of this Afro-diasporic culture.

Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk by Dan Sicko

This is an updated, expanded history of techno music with special attention to its roots in Detroit. When it was originally published in 1999, ""Techno Rebels"" became the definitive text on a hard-to-define but vital genre of music. Author Dan Sicko demystified techno's characteristics, influences, and origins and argued that although techno enjoyed its most widespread popularity in Europe, its birthplace and most important incubator was Detroit. In this revised and updated edition, Sicko expands on Detroit's role in the birth of techno and takes readers on an insider's tour of techno's past, present, and future in an enjoyable account filled with firsthand anecdotes, interviews, and artist profiles.

State of Bass by Martin James

Jungle and Drum & Bass was like nothing else the world had experienced before - simultaneously black and white, urban and suburban, old skool attitude and new school innovation. A socio-cultural melting pot of early 90s broken Britain seizing the wheel and taking control of the machine.

Originally published in 1997, State of Bass explores the scene's roots through its social, cultural and musical antecedents and on to its emergence via the debate that surrounded the apparent split between jungle and drum & bass. Drawing on interviews with some of the key figures in the early years, State of Bass explores the sonic shifts and splinters of new variants, styles and subgenres as it charts the journey from the early days to its position as a global phenomenon.

We hope you enjoyed our reading list!

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