Hip Hop Wiki
Grandmaster Flash
Grandmaster Flash.jpg

Birth name

Joseph Saddler


January 1, 1958 (1958-01-01) (age 64)
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies


The Bronx, New York, U.S.


Hip hop, old school hip hop

Years active



Sugar Hill, Enjoy, Elektra

Associated acts

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Sugarhill Gang

Joseph Saddler (born January 1, 1958), better known by his stage name Grandmaster Flash, is an American DJ and record producer. He is considered as one of the pioneers of hip hop DJing, cutting, and mixing. Flash created the Quick Mix Theory (which allowed him to seamlessly loop any part of a song using two copies of the same record, a technique that is now known as Beat-Juggling) and punch phrasing, in addition to establishing new scratching techniques. His group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2007, becoming the first hip hop artists to be so honored. 

Flash was born in Barbados before his family migrated to the Bronx, New York. He attended Samuel Gompers High School, where he learned how to repair electronic equipment. Flash's early interest in DJing came from a fascination with his father's record collection, as well as his mother's desire for him to educate himself in electronics. After high school, he became involved in the earliest New York DJ scene. Flash played parties and collaborated with rappers such as Kurtis Blow and Lovebug Starski, and eventually forming his own group, The Furious Five, in the late 1970s. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five issued their first record, “Superrappin’,” on the Enjoy label in 1979. They then signed to Sylvia Robinson’s New Jersey-based Sugarhill label, where they made the R&B charts with a 12-inch single called “Freedom,” which ran for more than eight minutes. They were signed to Sugar Hill Records in 1980. Flash's seminal "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel", released in 1981, is a 7-minute solo showcase of his turntable skills and is the first documented appearance of record scratching on a song. The group's most significant hit was "The Message", although Melle Mel was the only member of the group to perform on it. Although frequently credited on the record, Flash does not appear on any songs by the group as there was little room for his turntablism skills, although he provided the central element of the group's sound when performing live. The Furious Five split in 1982 after financial problems arose between Flash and Melle Mel. Grandmaster Flash released a number of albums in the 1980s before the Furious Five temporarily reconciled for the 1988 album On the Strength.

Today, Flash owns his own clothing line, G. Phyre. In 2008, he released a memoir, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats. Flash appears as a playable character in the video game DJ Hero. He continues to tour and regularly performs DJ sets.


See also: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five discography