For his skill re-working riffs from classic guitar records, he was ranked No. 10 on Spin's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. On October 30, 2002, while recording new music at his studio in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Mizell was shot and murdered by an unknown assailant. He was 37 years old.
Mizell was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 3 years he started playing trumpet and played bass, guitar, and drums in various bands prior to discovering turntables. He moved to Hollis, Queens in 1975 with his family where he soon discovered the turntables and started DJing at the age of 13. He caught on quickly because of his musical experience and after a year of DJing he felt that he was good enough to play in front of people.
He first started playing at parks and later played at bars. He also began throwing small parties around the area.Once he got a pair of Technics 1200s he improved rapidly since he was able to practice at night with headphones on when he was supposed to be sleeping.
Mizell became a DJ because he "just wanted to be a part of the band". Prior to joining Run-D.M.C. he played bass and drums in several garage bands. In 1982 he hooked up with Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels just after they graduated from high school and agreed to DJ for them because he wanted to be part of the band. On Run-D.M.C's album Raising Hell, Mizell played keyboards, bass, and live drums in addition to his turntable work. Mizell remained in his childhood neighborhood in Hollis, Queens his entire life.
In 1989, Mizell established the label Jam Master Jay Records, which scored a success in 1993 with the band Onyx. He also connected Chuck D with Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin. After achieving relative prominence, Mizell was known to use the alias Jay Gambulos so as to avoid unwanted public attention. He is also related to the Mizell Brothers, a popular production team for Gary Bartz, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, and others.
In 2002, Mizell founded the Scratch DJ Academy in Manhattan to "provide unparalleled education and access to the art form of the DJ and producer." - read full article/references via wikipedia
WATCH JAM MASTER JAY & RUN-D.M.C. perform LIVE at the CAPITOL THEATRE (1984) // PRESS*PLAY>>