Tommy Onyx migrated to Detroit from Boston
in the late 80s, and has been a proud member of the city's music scene
ever since. He's worked with some of the the area's most talented
and successful music artists, been involved in the production of some
big records and been tossed a couple of kewl awards along the way.
He's also had the chance to tour with several acts, bringing Detroit
music to countries around the world. For more info about the gnarly
gnu program director of thedetroiter.com radio, check out his bio
in the artist section of worldofdeep.com.
Greetings friends, I'm Tommy Onyx, and in the months to come I'll
be your humble music host and program director for thedetroiter.com
When I set out ot gather content for thedetroiter.com radio, I knew
it would be an interesting endeavor... but I must tell you, it has been
fascinating beyond all expectation. The sheer number of mammoth recording
artists to emerge from Detroit over the past 40 years is nothing short
of remarkable, especially when you consider that Detroit has rarely
been considered a "destination city"for aspiring musicians in the
same way that New York, London, Nashville or Los Angeles have. It
really is amazing that a metro area of just 5 million people has produced
such a high volume of musical hyper achievers.
Let me take a moment to explain my method for developing the playlist,
as well as any liberties I may have taken or will take with regards
to the programming.
each station's theme is meant to serve as a flexible guide and not
as a strict constitution. Some of the material appearing on one station
could just as appropriately appear on another. This is, of course,
a testament to the genre melting alchemy that (rock/rap/hiphop/country/?)
Detroit artists like Kid Rock pull off
with such craft and skill.
Second, we define 'Detroit' as being the Detroit metropolitan area,
or essentially Southeastern Michigan. There are certainly instances
on this site and elsewhere where the distinction between Detroit and
the Burbs, 7 mile and 9 mile is relevant - however, I believe that
in the case of thedetroiter.com radio it is not. Popular art and music
are global commodities and issues like East Side, West Side, 810 and
313 mean little to folks outside of Michigan.
If Kid Rock is from Mt. Clemens, to the
kid in Texas he's from Detroit (regardless of how many times Bob shouts
out "Mt. Clemens is pimpin'" on his records).
If George Clinton was born in North Carolina,
that's information that is interesting only to his relatives at this
point. To the rest of the world the Mothership docks in Detroit.
Marvin Gaye may have been born
in Washington DC, but ever since Barry Gordy
made him a prince of Motown I doubt many folks either know that fact.....or
Conversely, Madonna may have moved to
NYC to break her glass, but I've yet to see a biographical expose
on her that didn't include her cheerleading picture from Adams High
School in Rochester. So despite Mrs. Guy Ritchie's best attempts at
adopting an English accent , the press is unanimous in its perception
of her as a Detroit artist.
Most Cities around the world would be honored and fortunate to be
able to lay claim to even a single major musical or cultural movement
or a single legendary artist. Seattle had the Grunge Scene. Manchester
can take credit for Rave Culture. Liverpool gave birth to The Beatles.
San Francisco was the origin of Psychedelic Rock.
But Detroit? It's difficult to know where to begin.
are three major genres that would simply not exist in the musical
nomenclature of our culture were it not for Detroit.
Historically Detroit has also been a major player in the American
Jazz and Be Bop Scene, with landmarks like Baker's
Keyboard Lounge. (America's oldest, hosting jazz legends for
more than 60 years!)
And the definition of 'classic rock' would hardly be complete without
Michigan's Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and
Bob Seger. How many other towns have
the suffix "rock city" added to their names as often as Detroit?
Miami Rock City!
I don't think so.
how about individual icons?
Iggy Pop -
Granddaddy of Punk
The Jackson 5 - Motown Record's quintessential
'boy band' who gave birth to the King of Pop
Eminem - Hip Hop's Elvis
Diana Ross - Diva Defined
- The Queen of Soul
Marvin Gaye - The Prince of Soul
Madonna - 2nd biggest selling female
artist of all time (behind only Streisand)
George Clinton - funk's most defining
Kevin Saunderson, Derrik May and Juan Atkins
- architects of techno music
while each and every Detroit artist to achieve fame and fortune might
not qualify as a legend, the list of classy artists with classic songs
to emerge from this town is seemingly endless.
"What I Like About You" - still one of the most recurrent 80s
songs on classic rock stations everywhere.
- Found fame by simply "Smokin' in the Boys Room"
"Sweet Love" courtesy of her sweet R&B stylings
Grand Funk Railroad "THE American Band"
from Flint, Michigan
Suzi Quatro - "Rock's First Lady" and
the world's original recipe for both "leather clad rock vixen" and
"riotgrrrl"...born in Grosse Pointe, Mi.
The Insane Clown Posse - "America's Most
Hated Band" with some of America's most dedicated fans and self made
platinum multi-bazillionaires to boot. (read
thedetroiter.com's interview with longtime ICP producer Mike E. Clark)
Mitch Ryder -
drove his Detroit Wheels up the top forty charts 5 times
Doug Fieger - (Yes, the younger brother
of wannabe governer, attorney Geoffrey Fieger) - led the Detroit band
Sky, before heading off to LA to start the Knack and record a little
record called "My Sharona."
recently artists like Aaliyah, The New Radicals,
Robert Bradley, Slum Village, Sponge
and Uncle Kracker
have carried the torch and made sure that Detroit continues to get
proper representation on pop, rock and R&B radios around the nation.
And don't think that the Motor City's musical glory days are all behind
us. Bands like "The White Stripes," "Adult,"
Six" and "The Paybacks" are proving
once again that Detroiters are an artistically restless lot and are
most comfortable living dangerously close to the bleeding edge.
So are there things about our beloved Midwest Gotham that suck with
a capital S?
Oh god yes. But friends, let us at least agree....that music is definitely
NOT one of them.
Now some of you may be wondering if our radio is a complete and definitive
accounting of our fair City's musical history.
.....well, ok. It's obviously not.
we do hope that the more than 70 songs included in the debut playlist
is at least a respectable start.
There are presently obvious omissions such as the complete categories
of Jazz and Classical, two genres that have played a vital roll in
the City's history. You can expect to see these categories get some
representation in the next few months. Also, don't forget that thedetroiter.com
IS a website, which is to say that we're most vibrant and compelling
when we're most dynamic and interactive. So don't hesitate to shout
out to us with your comments, criticisms and suggestions. Post them
on the letters
to the editor page or email me directly. email@example.com
you feel as though there's a song or artist that's not getting the
love they deserve on thedetroiter.com radio - tell us. If we've butchered
the spelling of an artist's name, please tell us. If you're a local
singer or band and you're certain that your record would sound absolutely
magnificent sandwiched between Alice Cooper
City, by all means, drop us a line. Conversely, if we have
included a song by your group on one of our stations, and you would
like us to remove it - for whatever reason - please contact us. We
will delete it promptly.
The current stations are as follows:
1) Motown Memories - Everything
from Barry Gordy's Motown Record label, to material from former Motown
artists later in their careers, to other Detroit soul singers of the
2) Hip Pop & Phunk - Rap, R&B,
funk, hip hop and pop all live here, in perfect harmony.
3) D- Rox
- Classic rock, new rock, alt. rock - guitars for the whole
- Techno, House, Electronica, press play and dance
5) Radio Free Detroit - "The everything
bagel" of radio. Radio Free Detroit plays plays music from the playlists
of ALL the other stations. This one takes guts to listen to.
6) Virgin Radio - Richard Branson
eat your heart out. We're talkin' 'bout all Madonna,
all the time.
7) ? - TBA
- room to grow!
an all Madonna station?
You could argue that there are other Detroit legends just as worthy
(or more so) of having their own station.
I suggest that artists like Stevie Wonder,
Diana Ross or Marvin
Gaye could certainly qualify as fair choices.
Then again, why not Kid Rock?
He's an artist with a career spanning more than 10 years and sales
of more than 10 million records.
How about Eminem?; Marshall Mathers is
only the biggest international hip hop star the world has ever seen?
Generation Y's Elvis?
The mojo debate could really go on and on....
But at the end of the day, we selected Madonna
because the truth is, love her or not, she IS the single biggest international
music star to emerge from our corner of the globe to date. Period.
Plus the young people really do seem to dig her.
But, hey, don't take my word for it.
The following was taken from the RIAA
Sales Chart was created on 11/01/2002
Artist Certified Units (in Millions)
1- BEATLES, THE 164.50
2- LED ZEPPELIN 105.00
3- BROOKS, GARTH 105.00
4- PRESLEY, ELVIS 102.00
5 - EAGLES 86.00 (whoo hooo...Glen Fry
is from Royal Oak!)
6 - JOEL, BILLY 77.00
7- PINK FLOYD 73.50
8- STREISAND, BARBRA 68.50
9- JOHN, ELTON 64.50
10- AEROSMITH 63.50
11- AC/DC 63.00
12- ROLLING STONES, THE 62.50
14- SPRINGSTEEN, BRUCE 58.50
15- JACKSON, MICHAEL 58.00
16- CAREY, MARIAH 53.00
17- HOUSTON, WHITNEY 53.00
18- ROGERS, KENNY 50.50
19- STRAIT, GEORGE 50.50
20- VAN HALEN 50.50
Lastly it may be worth noting to those of you just joining us from
the outer planets of the Solar System, some of the ol' rap music is
often "alive" with the four letter words. Know what I'm
sayin' ho? So keep that in mind should you decide to blast the
"Hip Pop and Phunk" station in your office or on the church bus. Iggy
Pop, Kid Rock and the MC5
also appear to enjoy the F word too, so the rock station might not
be most appropriate to bump around the day care center....but then again
my baby girl seems to really like The Stooges
and those "Lust for Life" drums...hey hey, that's
Until next time, keep yourselves hydrated on the Detroit City Water,
(It can't hurt right?) and spread love.
Thanks for reading, AND thanks for listening!
- T. Onyx
all detroit muscians mentioned in Tommy's essay
may be heard on thedetroiter.com radio.