Clive Campbell (DJ KOOL HERC)
by Nick Kohlman

Why He's Famous

DJ Kool Herc is famous for being credited with originating hip hop music in the early 1970s in The Bronx, New York City. His playing of hard funk records brought him to being a DJ. This all happened just because of him trying to follow his dreams to become a musician. Clive loved music as a little boy. He would hum, sing, and practice playing instruments all the time. There was this man who would DJ for the best parties on his block so Clive wanted to be like him.

Picture Book

Clive Campbell was born April 16, 1955. He loves music. He lived in Kingston, Jamaica when he was a kid. Clive had an inspiration DJ who would throw the best parties on Somerset Lane. The DJ was known as KING GEORGE. Clive loved to imagine himself as a DJ with people dancing to his beats. When Clive was 13, he moved to the Bronx, New York to live with his mom. The street that he lived on was brutal. It was cold, there were gun shots, kidnappers, and people made fun of little Clive. Clive soon discovered that there was one thing that he loved other than music; and that thing was basketball. Clive was so tall and so strong that he was the best basketball player in his neighborhood. He was so good that people called him Hercules because of his height and strength. One day, his father bought a monster sound system with giant six foot speakers. Clive soon fell in love with DJing.

His sister’s birthday was coming up so he decided to throw a party for her. That was when he became DJ KOOL HERC. Clive threw party after party and he had breakdancers. He noticed the people that liked to dance along to his music, so he would give shoutouts to his favorite fans. A few years later, Clive grabbed a few of his friends who loved to DJ and created a band. They called themselves the Herculoids. Herculoids and DJ would have the biggest and baddest parties on the block. That’s when DJ Kool Herc started making albums and in a few months, he was FAMOUS. Clive didn't just rock the block. He put the HIP HIP HOP, HIPPITY HOP into the world’s heartbeat.

This is a photo of Kool Herc (Dark shirt) Djing with his monster sound system.

Clive's Childhood

Clive Campbell was the first of six children born to Keith and Nettie Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica. Clive loved music. While growing up, he saw and heard the sound of neighborhood parties, and the accompanying speech of their DJs. He moved with his family at the age of 12 to the Bronx, New York in November 1967, where they lived at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Sedgwick Avenue wasn’t very safe. The street that he lived on was brutal. It was cold, there were gun shots, gangs, and people made fun of little Clive. But he soon found a way to take his mind off of that, and that was basketball. Clive would play basketball against other kids in his neighborhood. He was so tall and so strong that he was the best basketball player in his neighborhood. So then, people made a nickname for him. That nickname was “Hercules”. They called him that because of how tall and strong he was. A few weeks later, Clives dad bought him a Monster Sound System and Clive fell in love with DJing.

Where He Lived


DJ Kool Herc was born in Kingston, Jamaica but him and his family moved to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx, New York but when he was 13.

Primary Source

This source is a photo of Clives invite to a back to school jam party. This primary source is important because he would DJ at parties. Many people would come an have a fantastic time. He would have b-boys and b-girls during the party. They would breakdance when there were break times and people would surround the b-boys and b-girls to watch them dance.

Careers and Successes

Beginning his DJing career in the early '70s at a time when disco was king, Herc immediately distinguished himself by spinning late-'60s funk records of James Brown and Mandrill and isolating their breaks. Among other things, he was notorious for throwing all-night parties. Kool Hercs during mid-'70's were usually young dancers (called b-boys and b-girls) who were of the break dancers of the '80's. Another Kool Herc attraction was his mammoth sound system which was capable of overtaking a party-goer's body, making them literally feel the music. Hercs career was sidelined when he was stabbed at one of his parties, causing the DJ to curb his activities for several years. Though he was occasionally acknowledged during the '90's -- appearing at the Source Awards to talk about hip-hop's early days as well as on the 1994 release Super Bad by Public Enemy, DJ Terminator X, Herc drifted away from the hip-hop community and ceased to be a key player in the same way he was in the early to mid-'70's.


  • His first deejay gig was as his sister's birthday party. It was the start of an industry
  • He would dig in crates and look everywhere to find the perfect break beat for his parties. He didn't care what type of music, because he only needed a small section of a song for his purposes.
  • His fame grew. In addition to his breakbeats, Herc also became known as the man with the loudest system around. When he decided to hold a party in one of the parks, it was a crazy event. And a loud one. At this time Afrika Bambaataa and other competing DJ's began trying to take Herc's crown. Jazzy Jay of the Zulu Nation recalls one momentous meeting between Herc and Bam.


“I had love for Breakout; I had love for Bambaataa. I had love for Kool Herc.”-Grandmaster Flash

“I am one of the founders of Hip-Hop along with my brothers Kool DJ Herc and Grandmaster Flash.”-Afrika Bambaataa

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