Sunday, 24 November 2013

Lil' Louis - Video Clash

Lil Louis is the stage name used by Chicago-born house-music producer and DJ Louis Sims. He scored a number of hits on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the 1980s and 1990s, three of which hit #1.

One of the most popular Chicago house producers during the late '80s thanks to his massive club hit "French Kiss," Lil' Louis was also the only Chicago producer to successfully deal with the major labels; he released two albums for Epic, and only left the label at his own instigation. Born in Chicago, Louis was the son of guitarist Bobby Sims, who recorded for Chess and appeared with the psychedelic-soul unit Rotary Connection. He grew up with nine siblings and played both drums and bass as a child, then began DJing in the mid-'70s (he earned his nickname after appearances at the club River's Edge while still in middle school). By the end of the decade he had his own club, the Future, where he began working on his editing techniques, thanks to a cassette deck and later a reel-to-reel recorder.
John Bush

Rees Urban: Not a lot of people are familiar with the controversy of "Video Clash" that was released by Lil' Louis as well as the same formula follow-ups like Tyree's "Acid Crash" and Mike Dunn's "Magic Feet". Could you give us the story from your point of view?

Marshall Jefferson: Tyree and Mike Dunn were and still are good friends. I was in my living room with some friends and I did "Video Clash" right there in front of them. Lil' Louis was one of them. I did a lot of songs then that were played in the clubs and never came out. At that time I was giving all my rough demos to Ron Hardy and since he was there, Lil' Louis called dibs on the new hot tune. He also told me not to give it to Ron Hardy. I had a lot of other songs playing in the clubs and I started concentrating more on my major label groups like Ten City, CeCe Rogers and Kym Mazelle and kind of left all my instrumental tracks behind. A lot of them are still being played. Anyway, Mike and Tyree, knowing this, put out their versions. Lil' Louis came to me infuriated. He said the original version should come out, but I didn't want people to think I copied off Tyree and Mike. He asked if he could put it out on his label for me and I said yes. The only problem was that when the record came out, it didn't have my name anywhere on it. That was Lil' Louis' first record.

RU: Will the "real deal" ever see the light of day?

MJ: Nope, I lost the tape. I could remake it. I still remember the keyboards I used, but I don't know if I can duplicate that raw sound because it was done in my living room on cheap equipment.

Every treasure hides its own secrets. Sometimes, these secrets may be astonishing as the treasure itself. Reputed among the most amazing tunes released by Lil' Louis ever, "Video Clash" has quite a story - and few, very few know its true extension.

The first time I heard about "Video Clash" story was on an interview I made with Tyree where he said that he did his "Video Crash" classic because he had heard that Lil' Louis released the original version of "Video Clash" which was produced by Marshall Jefferson, so he, Tyree Cooper, wanted to do one that was better than Lil'Louis one, so he did "Video Crash". Mike Dunn did something similar based on the same concept of "Video Clash" and made "Magic Feet".

The natural reaction was hearing Marshall Jefferson's statement about the original of "Video Clash" in order to elucidate the matter. "Video clash I did in my living room while Lil' Louis was there. Kym Mazelle, Sterling Void, and four others were there. Kym Mazelle started singing "Fuck it, I don't even wanna sing!" over the track, and we were basically just having a jam session. Lil Louis lived really close to me; Fast Eddie was my next door neighbour - and he always complained that Ron Hardy got all my tracks first."

Marshall continued: "Well, he (Lil' Louis) was right there when I recorded "Video Clash" and he insisted that I give him a copy. At that time Lil Louis had the biggest parties in Chicago, where more than five thousand kids would regularly show up, so I gave him a copy to play. He took it home, took off Kym's vocals and edited it. Somehow, that piece of shit became his biggest record."

The other music that spread from "Video Clash" concept was explained by Marshall Jefferson as well: "Soon after, Mike Dunn did a ripoff of it called "Magic Feet", and Tyree Cooper did another ripoff ("Video Crash", and Tyree's testimonial about its history was almost the same of Marshall's), and at least five other ripoffs were circulating and I (Marshall) didn't want to put my version out because I didn't want people to think I ripped off somebody else, so I was ready to push it to the side and forget it."

What made him change his mind is his explanation about Lil Louis' arguments: "He (Lil' Louis) seemed extremely upset that the other versions came out, and asked me to put out the "original version" because he said people needed to hear it. I said no at first, then he said he would put it out for me and after lots of urging I just said - "Go ahead".

The producer of "Video Clash", Marshall Jefferson - the same man behind several other quintessential House tunes, reasoned about when the "Video Clash" was released: "When the record finally came out, my name was nowhere on it. Never received any money for it either. Recently, I asked for the rights to the song back and Lil' Louis gave me back the rights without a fight, so that was cool. There's very little money if any for it now, but at least I have the rights for justice's sake" - said the one who claims to be "Video Clash"'s true creator.  

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