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Mark Kamins R.I.P. Johnny Dynell & Tom Tom Club Pay Tribute

Johnny Dynell, hanging in New York in 1987 (photo by Wolfgang Wesener)



Legendary alternative New York DJ Johnny Dynell forged his reputation on the same Dionysian 80s club circuit as Mark Kamins, soundtracking the City’s last truly decadent nightlife era before AIDS culled so many creative souls.


Taking time out this week from preparing for Elton John’s Oscar party in Hollywood, he told Skrufff that ‘Mark’s death took everyone by surprise. So tragic. It still hasn’t really hit me’, before writing a poignant tribute piece to the New York disco legend.


“Mark Kamins will truly be missed. He had a joyous love of life and music that was infectious. He was a fearless DJ.


In the early 80s he would effortlessly throw an African beat under a new dance track while simultaneously blending some ethic accapella over it. This would instantly make it his own iconic creation. Of course these breath-taking mash-ups (which were decades before today’s concept of a mash-up) didn’t always gel but the packed crowd never minded. Mark’s energy, creativity and love of the music made them work.


His Saturday night dance floor at Danceteria was legend. His Saturday night DJ booth at Danceteria was even more legendary.


Imagine all the bands on any “Hits Of The 80s” CD compilation crammed like sardines into a hot, tiny, “buzzing” cubbyhole and you have Mark’s world.


New Order, Duran Duran, The Beastie Boys, Culture Club, Arthur Baker, Grace Jones, the Tom Tom Club, Madonna, all talking a mile a minute while Mark graciously held court and mixed at the same time. Record deals were made, careers were made, love affairs started and ended all in one night, all in one DJ booth.


After Danceteria closed, Mark moved on as the world moved on but he never lost his joy of music and DJing. I learned a lot from Mark and will always be grateful to him. Not just for my career but for his generosity.”


Johnny Dynell


Arthur Baker also paid tribute to Mark earlier in the week, (click here to read: ) as did Chris Frantz from Tom Tom Club (and previously Talking Heads).


It’s great what Arthur wrote. I won’t try to top that but I will say that Mark was one of the first champions of Tom Tom Club.


He may have been the first DJ ever to spin “Genius Of Love”. I met him at Danceteria but where I really got to know him was hanging out at the Mudd Club.


At least twice he DJ’d at private parties we held in our loft in Long Island City. One of these parties was on Halloween and everyone from Blondie to the B52s to David Lee Roth was there. I made sure the party never ran out of booze and Mark made sure the musical vibe never ran out of energy. Pure good times!


I last saw him at one of our shows at Brooklyn Bowl a little over a year ago. He was in good form and as crazy about great music as ever. He always had kind words of encouragement for Tina and me. He was a real friend.”


Chris Frantz, Feb.17, 2013

















Johnny Dynell performing Jam Hot @ Danceteria, 1983 (photo by Chris Savas)



Jonty Skrufff (follow me on Twitter)


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