Posted Mar 13 2006
There's so much talent and history in Detroit that too often we take for granted the innovators living among us. Such was the case with Duane "In The Mix" Bradley, one of the town's most influential and innovative turntable spinners. Whether you were doing a hustle at a cabaret, sipping spirits at a happy hour or sweating your hair out to some hip hop, Duane was probably involved in some form another. A longtime DJ and producer, he influenced an entire generation of DJs with his smooth mixes and helped bring house music to the forefront of Detroit popular culture. He was especially known for crossing social barriers and bringing together people of all backgrounds. For nearly 20 years he also held a mix show spot on WJLB, working right up until his passing due to complications from asthma and pneumonia. Duane's body of work as a producer was immense and included contributions to The Best of Personal Record, which featured George Kranz' eternal hit, "Din Daa Daa," as well as projects with Kathy Kosins, Was (Not Was), Midway and the legendary house music group Inner City.
Beyond his love of music, Duane stood out for his commitment to Detroit. Watching many of his contemporaries seek opportunities abroad, he remained in the city to play for his people here- and we're all better for it. It's been said that as long as the memory of a person remains, so does their spirit. As folks reflect on his legacy, it's good know that Duane's influence will be around for a long time.
"Duane was the first cat to introduce Chicago house and Detroit techno to the major radio market here in Detroit. He helped to make Derrick May's "Nude Photo" record a hit by introducing and playing it regularly on his lunch time mix show on WJLB back in the mid-to-late 80's. He was one of my biggest influences in terms of tight flawless mixes, catching and mixing out on the breaks, and creating a vibe with the record selection. One of the best moments in my life as a DJ was when I won the Detroit citywide mix off back in 1988. The judges included Detroit's top elite like Ray Berry, Darryl Shannon, the late great Ken Collier, and Duane Bradley. Both Ken and Duane personally came over to congratulate me on my performance. That meant so much to me because both Ken Collier and Duane "In The Mix" Bradley were giants to me, and yet they made me feel as a welcomed and accepted part of the Detroit DJ community."-Terrence Parker-producer/DJ, founder of Intangible Records
"One reason that Duane is so significant is that unlike many of his peers he stayed based in Detroit throughout his career. Instead of relocating to Europe he chose to build up the scene in Detroit. It's kind of hard to build up a city, when you aren't here! Through his mix show and by staying accessible, who knows how many DJs were influenced by him. He also stood out because he mixed everything-gospel, house, hip hop, whatever. Most DJs just play music but Duane turned people on to music. What people now call deep house, Duane made mainstream. He got underground records played in regular rotation. He had that kind of power."-Cornelius Harris, label manager of Upstart Records and promotional manager for Submerge Distribution
"I met Duane Bradley over twenty years ago at a club called Todd's Nightclub on West Seven Mile. Todd's is no longer but it is a nightclub that many people still speak about because Todd's was a club to vibe. It didn't matter what color you were and your sexual preference was not an issue. It was a club where you went to dance and experience new house music. After Todd's closed, Duane played at clubs like the Warehouse and of course, the mix show on WJLB. Duane will be considered a legend to me because in his days he was a record breaker in the clubs. The last few years of Duane's life he spent playing neighborhood bars because oldies was another format of music he enjoyed. (He) had recently started performing with a group that was all set for performing in clubs and venues. Their group was almost the likes of the Temptations. Duane was supposed to spin a Studio 54 party for me on Sept 20th, but he was unable. I chose Duane for the party because he was our Larry Levan of Detroit in the disco era at Todd's."-Sarena Tyler, world renowned DJ
"Everybody used to talk about how well Duane mixed records, how smooth he was mixing records. But, the majority of (DJs) playing now think he was just on the radio. He was on there longer than anybody but he didn't have no acclaim. He wasn't their number one guy. (Yet) Duane was responsible for the majority of Blacks playing "Big Fun" and "Good Life." When we played those records, we only played the mix that Duane did. Those records that I've told you about are just the one's that crossed (over). He mixed a whole lot of them on the gay scene that would just tear joints up right now. Every time I'd see him, I'd say, "Now why aren't you out in the studio?" To me, that was his thing. He did a mix on Millie Scott's record-the biggest hit she ever had here."-Tyrone "The Godfather" Bradley, DJ mainstay and director of United Dance Music Association Record Pool
"Duane Bradley was one of the first to introduce Chicago's house music to Detroit. He brought me up there when I had Dr. Derelict's "Undercover" out in the spring of 1984. He influenced me to remix the single, and that version went on to be a #1 seller at retail."-Jesse Saunders, Grammy award-winning producer and DJ