Best known for his “four-on-the-floor” tempo that’s pervaded the dance music genre since the 1970s, the dance music community lost a pioneering musician this past week with the passing of Hamilton Bohannon. Picking up drum sticks at a young age, he became the percussionist for many a live Motown show, backing superstars like Diana Ross, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, among others. Hamilton was 78 year old.
The Georgia Native’s biggest dance floor singles featured heavily accented bass drums on every beat – the precursor of the pounding Disco pulse that was meant to keep people moving on the dance floor. As the creator explained, the bass drum, is the median: “It keeps the rhythm section, the right lane, from running into the melody in the the left lane. It’s happy music. When you’re dancing, you’re happy. When you’re putting your feet down, you’re happy.”
Bohannon’s dance floor style was further accentuated in tracks played by Frankie Knuckles and other Disco and House club deejay staples who contributed, greatly, to early the dance floor music movement. And the legend’s music enjoyed a rebirth when musicians including Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake sampled his most popular work – like “Foot Stompin Music” and “Let’s Start The Dance” as their own Hip-Hop and Pop recordings.