by BJW Nashe

Some of us take our music very seriously. A recent story about a DJ murder in Berlin by a disgruntled “vinyl purist,” followed by an attempted murder in Philadelphia by a truly disillusioned fan, demonstrate that playing the wrong music is no trifling matter. In fact, it might cost you your life.

When Morrissey and The Smiths released their 1986 single, “Panic (Hang the DJ),” many of us had to laugh. The tune was a suitable expression of disgust for lame DJs on the radio and in clubs. However, it’s one thing to croon about killing the despised DJ, and quite another to literally go on a rampage.

trakYet this is what just happened in Berlin, according to a May 22, 2013 story on the satirical Equalizer web site. Apparently, a vinyl enthusiast became so enraged by another DJ’s techno set at a nightclub that he simply decided to stalk the man down and murder him. The killer, identified as 36 year-old Johannes Van der Burgh, apparently did not appreciate the fact that Polish DJ Mark Borowski had used a popular software program called Traktor to play his music. Traktor is often derided as a DJ’s shortcut — a form of cheating – -compared to the traditional method of spinning records and using a mixer to blend tracks together.

Van der Burgh was not the only one disappointed in Borowski’s Traktor set. Another unhappy clubber is quoted as saying:

“[Borowski’s] simplistic dynamics and preset loops would drag for 16, 32, or even 64 bars at a time. It doesn’t really surprise me that he was murdered.”

Indeed. If you go more than 12 bars or so without any complex dynamics, in Berlin you’re asking for serious trouble. No pre-programmed loops, danke schon. Somebody better tell Justin Bieber to cancel any future dates in Germany.

Van der Burgh has confessed to following Borowski home after the gig, and then slaughtering him. Van der Burgh told authorities he was just doing what any vinyl purist would have done. Police, who were summoned to the scene after neighbors reported hearing a disturbance, found Borowski lying dead beside a blood-spattered turntable. Adding a strange twist to the crime scene, Kraftwerk’s “Man Machine” record was playing on the stereo.

vinylNow we have the satire in Berlin nearly turn into American reality in Philadelphia. According to a May 23 report at The Raw Story, 21 year-old Henry Pettigrew became belligerent when the DJ at a strip joint called the Purple Orchid refused to play his request. When bouncers tried to remove the intoxicated Pettigrew from the “gentleman’s club,” events took an ugly turn. According to The Raw Story:

“Pettigrew and an accomplice then assaulted a customer, who they mistook for one of the bouncers. When the customer ran to the parking lot and tried to flee in his SUV, Pettigrew grabbed an AK-47 and began firing at the vehicle. The customer was hit above his right hip and is expected to recover.”

It is unclear which particular song the drunken Pettigrew wanted the DJ to play. It is also unclear whether the DJ was using the Traktor software or repetitive loops to provide musical accompaniment to the onstage gyrations. The Philadelphia Police Department spokesman, who is ironically named Johnny Walker, is not supplying those salient details. We do know that police are still searching for Henry Pettigrew, who fled the scene of the shooting and remains at large — still, no doubt in search of a suitable soundtrack for his exploits.

DJs in Philly better get their act together. And they should probably steer clear of Berlin. Club goers should also beware: DJs may be prone to counterattack. Richie Hawtin, for instance, strikes me as a fairly dangerous guy, and he’s pure hell on Traktor.



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