Herbie Hancock ~ Rockit 1983 ElectroFunk Purrfection Version

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Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born April 12, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois to Winnie and Wayman Hancock. From the age of 7, Herbie embarked on a classical music education with a jazz slant on the piano. He was 11 years old when he got his first gig with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto #26 in D Major K. 537 (Coronation).

A self taught musician, he loved The Hi-Lo's, a vocal quartet and appreciated the way they were able to use their voices as instruments. He found a Mentor in jazz pianist Chris Anderson and considered him to be his "harmonic guru" throughout his career.

He worked with Donald Byrd and Coleman Hawkins and found time to take courses at Roosevelt University. He was embraced by other jazz artists and played with Oliver Nelson and Phil Woods. His 1962 debut LP "Takin' Off" for Blue Note Records contained his composition "Watermelon Man" which became a jazz standard with Mongo Santamaria covering the song and getting a #10 Hot100 hit in 1963.

That album brought him to the attention of Miles Davis which led to his being inducted into Davis' Second Great Quintet joining Davis with Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter forming the finest jazz ensemble ever at the time. He continued to record and then composed the score to the 1966 film "Blow Up" and also created jingles for Pillsbury, Standard Oil, Tab and Virginia Slims.

Davis worked Herbie hard, making him learn electric pianos like the Fender Rhodes which he loved. Dismissed from Davis' band for arriving late to a session, he began to explore the electronic side of jazz throughout the 70's and 80's. Applying his sound to the Simple Minds he played the synth solo on "Hunter & The Hunted" LP.

His next project was "Future Shock" and created the first jazz hip hop song that became a worldwide anthem for hip hop breakdancers. The sound of "scratching" the noise the DJ created by manually sliding the vinyl record back and forth marked the first time it had been used on a hit. The innovative gadget video directed by Godley & Creme (formerly of 10cc) brought even more attention and the video won five MTV awards for it. Hancock won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.

"Rockit" began to take shape when Bill Laswell was asked by Hancock's manager to write something for the jazz legend and give him a new sound. Laswell took Herbie to an underground club where DJ Afrika Bambaataa was spinning and the deal was made.

Recording the song took a while as the drum parts were played by the same person who did three different drum tracks that all appeared in the song. The scratching was added and the distinctive guitar stab was sampled from Led Zeppelin. Hancock recorded three different synthesizer tracks which were all mixed in the final single. The finishing touch came from Afrika's Planet Rock with vocoderized lyric " Rock it, don't stop it" being added to the mix and they found the right name for the song.

On their way to the airport to return home Hancock stopped with his band at a music shop and had brought a cassette dub of "Rockit" and played it over the store's loudspeaker system and it attracted the kids from the neighborhood who were amazed about the new sound. That is when Laswell realized that the song was a hit.
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