Grand Wizard Theodore (born March 5, 1963) is an American hip hop DJ. He is widely credited as the inventor of the scratching technique.
Born Theodore Livingston in Bronx, New York, Theodore’s brother, Mean Gene, was his mentor, and began to teach him the technique of DJing during his childhood years. In addition to scratching, he achieved renown for his mastery of needle drops and other techniques which he invented or perfected. Theodore also apprenticed under Grandmaster Flash.
Though variants of the story exist, it is generally accepted that Grand Wizard Theodore was playing records at a high volume in his bedroom. Fed up with the noise his mother entered and ordered him to turn the music down. At this point he looked away from the turntable to face her. While his mother lectured him he continued slowly moving the record back and forth, which produced a sound all its own. When she left the room he was intrigued by the sound the vinyl made when manipulated in this fashion. After months of experimentation he introduced this technique at a party and thus scratching was born. Many forms of popular music have since used the technique.
In the early 1980s, Theodore was a part of the group Grandwizard Theodore & the Fantastic Five. They released “Can I Get a Soul Clap” in 1982. He was also featured in the 1983 film Wild Style, as well as contributing to the film’s soundtrack. He explains the origin of the scratch in the documentary, Scratch.
Grandwizard Theodore at BelTek Festival in Belmont, Maine, 2009
Theodore’s phrase “Say turn it up” from his track “Fantastic Freaks at the Dixie” was sampled by hip hop and rap acts such as Public Enemy (on the track “Bring the Noise”), Bomb the Bass (on the track “Megablast”) and many others.