Saddler's family migrated to the United States, and he grew up in the Bronx. He became involved in the earliest New York DJ scene, attending parties set up by early luminaries. Learning from Pete Jones and Kool Herc, he used duplicate copies of a single record and two turntables (for cutting) but added a dexterous manual edit with a mixer to promote the break (the ordinary playing of the record would be interrupted to overlay the break, the break could be repeated by using the mixer to switch channels while the second record was spun back). Flash got his nickname in school due to the fact that he hung around with another guy named Gordon (from Flash Gordon). He also invented the technique initially called cutting, which was developed by Grand Wizard Theodore into scratching (AMG).
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
Flash played illegal parties and worked with MCs such as Kurtis Blow. He formed his own group in the late 1970s, after promptings from Ray Chandler. The initial members were Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover) and Kid(d) Creole (Nathaniel Glover) making Grandmaster Flash & the 3 MCs. Two other rappers briefly joined, but they were replaced more permanently by Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams, previously in the Funky Four) and Scorpio (Eddie Morris, also used the name Mr. Ness) to create Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Soon gaining recognition for their skillful raps, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five pioneered MCing, freestyle battles, and invented some of the staple phrases in MCing. They performed at Disco Fever in the Bronx beginning in 1978.
Finally signed to Sugar Hill Records in 1980 by Joe Robinson, they released numerous singles, gaining a gold album for "Freedom," and also went on tour. The classic "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," released in 1981 was the best display of their skills (combing elements of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", CHIC's "Good Times" and samples from Blondie's Rapture), but it was their least successful single at the time. The group's most significant hit was "The Message" (1982), which was produced by in-house Sugar Hill producer Clifton "Jiggs" Chase and went platinum in less than a month. In 1983, Flash and Mel released a 12" single, "White Lines," which went on to become one of their signature songs. Although credited on the records, Flash doesn't actually appear on "The Message", "White Lines", or many of the other Furious Five songs (if you don't hear scratching on a track, then Flash isn't on it). In 1983, Flash sued Sugar Hill in over the non-payment of royalties, and in 1984 the group split between Flash and Mel before disintegrating entirely. Flash, Kid Creole and Rahiem signed to Elektra Records while the others continued as "Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five." (Mel notably appeared on Chaka Khan's I Feel for You). They reformed in 1987 for a charity concert, to release one album and then disbanded again. There was another reunion, of a kind, in 1994, although Cowboy died in 1989 from a drug overdose due to the effects of his crack cocaine addiction.
He has a line of clothing line "G.Phyre", and he has signed a deal with Doubleday to publish his memoirs. In 2007, Flash and the Furious Five were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
- The Message (1982)
- They Said It Couldn't Be Done (1985)
- The Source (1986)
- Ba-Dop-Boom-Bang (1987)
- On The Strength (1988)
- Salsoul Jam 2000 (1997)
- The Official Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash (2002)
- Essential Mix: Classic Edition (2002)
- Mixing Bullets and Firing Joints (2005)
- Grandmaster Flash Official Page
- Grandmaster Cuts Faster, a PDF article about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, originally published in Goldmine magazine, written by columnist Chuck Miller [10 page PDF]
- Grandmaster Flash Lyrics
- Grandmaster Flash interview from Chaos Control Digizine
- Davey D of Hard Knock Radio Interviews Grandmaster Flash
- The Career Cookbook Profile of Rahiem