*Interview originally conducted in 2014
It’s almost a given that when people hear the name Danny Dan The Beatman they instantly say “Oh yeah Dusty Fingers” and recognize that he has deep crates, but who doesn’t already know that? When it comes to “diggin” we have a slightly different philosophy at Nostalgia King, “digging doesn’t stop with records” which is why there are those DJ’s out there who have collections that span far beyond just records. To quote our man Biz Markie “What Else You Got?”, and that’s exactly what we’re here to find out in this interview with Danny because our connection runs deeper than just records. We both share the common love of not only classic television shows and made for TV movies that have been collected over the last 30 years and putting together an incredible collection of these shows personally recorded to VHS from analog TV stations way before most people had a VCR let alone Cable or Satellite TV in their homes. Tapes that are deeper than most “diggers” crates is what we’re going to unearth and that passion of collecting in general which runs deep within circles of DJ’s and collectors including Paul Nice, Marsellus Wallace, J-Zone and Biz Markie to name a few.
Skeme: Let start back to the early years of TV Shows when there was quality programming on 7 days a week, what were some of your favorites as a kid
Dan: Back in the late 60’s early 70’s it was shows like I Dream of Jeannie, McCloud, Baretta, Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Emergency, Iron Side, All In The Family and stuff like that. Even the show Dark Shadows which was like a soap opera that my mom made me watch but I was also heavy into and wanted to watch my cartoons, stuff like Gigantor, 8th Man, Mighty Heroes, Herculoids and all those kinds of shows. My mom is European and was heavy into movies so in the 70s she would take me downtown to the theaters to watch all these great films, mostly foreign films like Italian and French with subtitles. Mostly cop flicks but also a lot of Action and Thriller films plus some Horror but real gritty films that American filmmakers weren’t
making. And even though they were subtitled it kept my attention with the action, 70’s cinema was crazy bro.
Skeme: Was there a specific genre that you were heavy into like cop shows like Hawaii 5-0 and S.W.A.T or was it British TV heavy with shows like The Avengers, The Saint and others and what was it about them?
Dan: I was into it all but I really loved the cop shows like SWAT, Kojak, Barney Miller, Streets of San Francisco and shows like that, but like I said I was into everything. There was just so much to choose from at that time when TV was good and also educational, not like today where everything is supposed to be reality TV but I don’t see the reality in any of it.
Skeme: Just like with records I’m sure you were early in the game with recording and collecting these shows on VHS, when would you say was the year that you started being conscience of knowing you were building a collection?
Dan: I started collecting flicks in the 80’s, my mother bought a BETAMAX so I would get all the movies on that and then it was the BETAMAX vs VHS wars which ended the BETAMAX so we got a VCR and then I started recording all of the TV shows. We even had the CED laserdisc player which I have a crazy stash of movies on CED in storage along with all my VHS stuff. I know your deep into collecting toys which I would collect a few that I really dig like Star Wars toys etc but I was heavy into baseball cards especially, Rock’em Sock’em Robots and stuff like that.
*Betamax was developed by Sony in 1975 a year before the ultimately popular VHS was invented as a response to Sony’s attempt to control the format
of the Industry.
Skeme: I actually didn’t know you were heavy in the tape game until reading your interview in Big Daddy Magazine back in 2002 but should’ve known especially
since your Dusty Fingers LP’s have library soundtrack selections on them found in many of the TV Shows from the 60’s and 70’s. Did these shows play any part of you having a connection with the music that you eventually put out on these comps?
Dan: Yes because I would watch these shows and be like oh that music is crazy, who played that so I needed to know that information and have those records. But also my mother was really into music and had records so from 1973 – 1975 I started collecting 45’s real heavy, then in ’75 I started buying LPs and was unearthing a lot of stuff that people weren’t up on. By 1976 I had 6 crates plus all my 45’s, I went o.d. on just buying records, I would go to my friends houses just to see if their parents had records, I lost a lot of girlfriends because of records that I borrowed and never bought back. Their parents would ask for them and I’d be like “oh there safe, it’s in my crates” but I would never return them, so many ex girlfriends were mad at me.
I also had a partner named Leon who I used to practice with at his house in 1979, by this time I had 15 crates with heat plus all of my 45’s. I had all of my equipment at his house because my mom liked a quiet home so I couldn’t really play the music loud like I wanted to but then when 1980 rolled around I started jumping on other peoples jams and getting excepted because I was playing stuff that nobody knew or heard before. Shortly after that I saved up some money and bought speakers so I was able to do my own thing and throw my own jams. Plus I was really heavy into graffiti, going out late nights and bombing trains with dudes who was much better than me but I would go and be a lookout for the cops so I was really into a lot of different things growing up.
*Bonus Question: So how did the Dusty Fingers series come about?
Dan: At the time I was making beats from a lot of the stuff that wound up on the Dusty Fingers albums but nobody wanted my beats because they were like this is some other shit and they didn’t understand it. So I said I know what I’m going to do, I’m going to press these songs up and put them out and watch every body start sampling from them and that’s exactly what happened. There isn’t a producer that doesn’t own a Dusty Fingers LP in their crates so I guess everything worked out in the long run, the music I wanted to introduce in my beats still got heard.
Skeme: We recently did an interview with Miss Shingaling who also has an amazing record collecting and is very fond of those 60’s and 70’s shows especially The Avengers. What do you think it is about those shows that unintentionally connect with DJ’s like ourselves, Miss Shingaling and even those in the Northern Soul scene?
Dan: It was the time period that captured our imagination and our attention, shows of today can’t do that and neither can movies. My mom took me to see The Taking of Pelham 123 and I bugged out, and even though the remake had ok acting and was an ok film it doesn’t stand anywhere near the original. So it’s just that time period where we all come from why we have that connection and full appreciation for it between us. Shingaling actually came over to my house before I put my VHS in storage and made copies of a lot of my TV shows.
Skeme: Although I’m younger than you I’m sure your first exposure to Library music like mine came through TV Shows and movies first, when it comes TV shows which ones had the best scores or soundtracks that went along with them?
Dan: A lot of them pulled from Library records like McCloud, Kojak etc but there was also great music on Sanford and Son and Good Times. I don’t know who the composers were on those but I’m still on the hunt to find out who played some of that music.
Skeme: Just like with digging for records there are companies that have re-released a lot of these shows to DVD as a collector did you feel and kind of way about that or were you happy to get cleaner copies of some of your favorite shows?
Dan: No because I’m all about quality, I started collecting CD’s of all the records with breaks back in the 90’s because I wanted that crystal clear sound quality and started ripping and selling off my high dollar records. Records that I knew I wouldn’t use anymore or I already put them out on the Dusty Fingers LPs so I would sell to like the Japanese guys and they would come over and buy a lot of the stuff. I enjoyed the record so now I can pass it on to someone else who will hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. But I still have all of my VHS in storage, I just like to see the clarity of a DVD where I can
see what’s happening down the block versus me looking at a grainy VHS and never saw that before. I still love the nostalgia of my VHS collection though and would never part with it.
Even when I record the Dusty Fingers LPs they are high quality, I know sound and fidelity so everything is done right so that it has that warmth of vinyl but also has that punch to it, I keep everything on my drives in AIFF and WAV files. When I spin in clubs they have to turn my sound down because it’s they way it should sound versus the way other people stuff sounds, they play MP3’s which in my opinion is for kids with iPods.
Skeme: As a collector your always on the hunt for things that you haven’t seen in years or haven’t been released to DVD, what if any show’s are you still on the hunt for?
Dan: I pretty much have everything that I want but I would like DVD copies because a lot of what I have I recorded myself or bought bootlegs of them but one show I’m looking for is Six Million Dollar Man which Time Life put out a couple years back but the set was $240 and I just don’t have the money to flip for that series so I’ll just keep watching my bootleg on DVD. I’ve got everything from A to Z, Wizards, Fritz The Cat, Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Beatles Cartoon, Petticoat Junction, Bob Newhart was hilarious too. I still want to find clear complete copies of Soul Train, I know they put them out on DVD but I want the complete run uncut.
*Bonus Question: Are you like me and come home from a hard days work and instead of flipping channels you instantly go to your collection and watch
Dan: Oh yeah definitely! I have all my shows on DVD and on my hard drives so I’ll turn on whatever I’m in the mood for but I always get people asking me “what the hell are you watching” cause they don’t really get it like we do. TV is so non existent right now and nothing good is on so I watch shows from
when it was quality TV.
Skeme: What are your Top 5 favorite soundtracks?
Dan: There are so many great soundtracks but a few off of the top of my head are
a. The soundtrack to Bullitt with Steve McQueen
b. The Taking of Pelham 123
c. Violence OST
d. Willie Dynamite
e. Black Caesar
Skeme: Is there anything on the horizon coming up new from the Dusty Fingers series that we should be on the lookout for?
Dan: Yeah I just released Dusty Fingers vol. 18 which has 24 tracks and also School Yard Breaks with 23 track and there available at Juno.com. I release everything digitally now because I lost my pressing plant and LPs are just so expensive to press up now. I can press 1000 and I’ll sell 500 instantly to cover my costs but them I’m sitting on 500 that’ll move slow but I can’t be sitting on inventory like that. But there’s a bunch of stuff on my new releases that no ones ever heard or they never knew where it came from.
Skeme: So there you have it folks, it was great to catch up the Beatman to discuss digging in the tapes and all of the rare things it can hold. Just like with records
being early in the tape came you’ll find so many things that have never been re-released or reissued to DVD so the only way to find these lost gems is to have recorded them yourself or find other collectors who can put you up on these jewels.