Masters of MIDI: Herbie Hancock

Each day this week, to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of the first synthesizer to feature MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) capability—the Prophet 600 by Sequential Circuits—TWTR will focus on an electronic music pioneer and one of their performances during the early days of MIDI in the 1980s. This is the fourth installment of a five-part series.

Herbie Hancock – “Rockit” (Live, 1984)

Believe it or not, I still come across people who think Herbie Hancock was a one-hit wonder from the 1980s. It doesn’t happen often, but when I do, it’s really difficult not to do a “facepalm” right in front of the person. The man is a legend and a genius. He was already a pioneer in both “post-bop” jazz and electronic music when his Future Shock album featuring “Rockit” was released in 1983. When “Rockit” became a mainstream hit single, it also gave Hancock the distinction of being a pioneer in the hip-hop genre, as it became the first mainstream hit to feature the art of “scratching”—a staple of early hip-hop music—while becoming a favorite of breakdancers everywhere.

The live performance of “Rockit” from 1984 featured above has everything but the kitchen sink in it…and there might be one of those in there, too. All I know is that I envy everyone who was in that crowd.

And, for those of you who still think Herbie Hancock was a one-hit wonder from the 1980s, do yourself a favor and start at his Wikipedia entry to find out more about him.