What Is the First House Music Song Ever?

DJ needle on a vinyl record

Every electronic dance music (EDM) genre started once with the first song (track) in that genre, including the house genre. We can learn more about the house genre by knowing more about this genre’s first song.

We can see “On and On” by Jesse Saunders as the first house record ever and the record’s “On and On” song as the first house song ever. It is debatable if the A-side of the record is house music, but its B-side is house music.

This post explains why we can consider Jesse Saunders “On and On” as the first House record ever and then gives some information about the record itself. This post also gives a story behind the record and has some songs relevant to this post for listening.

Why “On and On” Can Be the First House Record Ever

The Wikipedia page “House music” explains that some people have cited “On and On” by Jesse Saunders as the first house record ever, but that there are also other tracks that people have cited as the first house track ever, such as “Music is the Key” by J.M. Silk, from 1985. On the Wikipedia page “Jesse Saunders,” we can see that “On and On” (on that page written as “On & On”) was the first pressed record sold to the public, by which the artist is a house DJ.

Discogs can show us that the record “On and On” is from 1984. Some people placed comments on some “Jesse Saunders ‎– On And On” Discogs pages mentioning that they believe that “On and On” is the first house record ever (source: Jesse Saunders – On And On (release), Jesse Saunders ‎– On And On (master)).

On the “Chicago house” Wikipedia page, I could not find a precise mention that “On and On” is the first house record. However, the page explains that people generally use the Chicago house term to relate to the first house music productions and that Farley “Jackmaster” Funk says that “Jesse Saunders was first. On that page, the earliest release by Jesse Saunders’s label is the song “On and On” on a 12-inch single.

The YouTube video “Story of the first house record ever made” explains that “On and On” is the first house record ever.

The Resident Advisor page “Rewind: Jesse Saunders – On And On” mentions that it is debatable that the A-side of the “On and On” record is house music, but its B-side is house music, making “On and On” the first house record.

In the track “The Real Story of ON & ON – Jesse Saunders,” which we can find on Jesse Saunders SoundCloud profile, Jesse Saunders explains that he made the first Chicago house record “On and On” and that Vince Lawrence helped him with pressing the records.

The First House Record Ever: “On and On” by Jesse Saunders

Jes Say Records released Jesse Saunders – On And On in January 1984 in the US. This release is a 12-inch 33 1/3 RPM vinyl. The music style of this release is house.

The “On and On” record’s track on the A-side is “On And On,” which is 7:57 minutes long. On the record’s B-side, the tracks are “119 (1984)”, “5A”, “1A”, “4A & B”, and “Im The D.J.,” which are all 3:00 minutes long (source: Jesse Saunders – On And On).

Below in this post, you can listen to both sides of the record Jesse Saunders – On And On.

The Discogs page “Jesse Saunders – On And On” has a note that explains that the first 500 pressed copies of the “On And On” record had a black label with white text and that the presses after that had a white label with black text. That note also explains that “On And On” is based on Mach – On and On. According to the same note, Mach – On and On has a bassline from Player/Playback – Space Invaders.

The mention of “Mach – On and On” in the note is a link. This link leads to the Discogs page “MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On.”

The record “MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On” is in the style of disco and funk. Remix Records (4) released the record in 1980 in the US (source: MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On). The A-side of the record is the Funky Mix, and the B-side of the record is On And On.

I think that the “(4)” part of the record label name should not be part of the label name, but I don’t know that for sure.

You can listen to the record “MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On” below in this post.

The Story Behind the Record “On and On” by Jesse Saunders

In 1983 Jesse Saunders started producing his music and was a Chicago DJ at the Playground club. There were only a few copies of Mach’s bootleg disco record “On and On.” That record is a megamix of the current hits of back then, a pastiche of loops from multiple electronic disco records.

Jesse Saunders played the B-side of that record, and the other DJs in the city played the A-side of it. Jesse played that record every time as the first record in his DJ mix set, and it became his “theme song.” Jesse Saunders’s “signature” tunes as a DJ part of the megamix were Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” (1980), and the bassline from the disco record “Space Invaders” by Player One (1979).

That record could make a serious frenzy on the dance floor when he played it.

There were requests for the record at record stores. However, these stores did not know that these requests were about the “On and On” bootleg record. Someone from a record store told Jesse that he is playing something in the club that people are requesting but don’t know what it is.

Jesse Saunders recorded what he was playing in a club to a tape and then played what he recorded at the store. The people told Jesse that they were looking for that, which was the “On and On” bootleg record.

The bootleg record did get stolen from Jesse Saunders, and the people of a record store said that they could sell 500 copies of that record if they had it in stock.

Jesse Saunders decided to make his own “On and On” version of the record with Vince Lawrence. To this version, they added typical early house sounding elements, such as hypnotic lyrics/minimal vocals and electronic instruments including the Roland TR-808 drum machine as electronic percussion, the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, Korg Poly-61 synthesizer, and the bassline from the disco record “Space Invaders” by Player One.

The song “On and On” became a hypnotic electronic dance song.

After recording the record tracks, Lawrence helped Saunders to press the records. In early 1984 Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawrence officially released the first house music record “On & On” on Jes Say Records, the label they made together.

They sold 500 pressed records, which sold out in three days. More stores requested copies of the record.

The record was promoted in the same way as a party, with flyers and posters. Also, Jesse Saunders and others played the record. Stores sold thousands of these records.

People from Detroit, New York, and England requested copies of this record. Even on 7 August 2014, there were still requests for this first Chicago house record.

In a 2010 interview, Jesse Saunders claimed that the song “On and On” aimed to capture the other local DJs’ disco style. According to him, that style was known locally as “house.”

Jesse Saunders is a house music pioneer. Some critics and historians cited him as “the originator of house music.” (source: The Real Story of ON & ON – Jesse Saunders, House music, Chicago house, Jesse Saunders, Jesse Saunders Documentary).

Some Songs To Listen To

The song “On And On” from the record “Jesse Saunders – On And On.”

The five songs of the B-side of the record “Jesse Saunders – On And On.” As already mentioned, each of these songs should be 3 minutes long, which is not the case in this video.

The record’s “MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On” full A-side (Funky Mix), at least as far as I know.

The record’s “MACH (2) – Funky Mix / On And On” full B-side (On And On), at least as far as I know.

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something about the first house song ever.

If you like this post, look at some other posts on this website since you might also like them.

You can share this post when you know someone who likes to learn more about the first house song ever.

By Markus Kreukniet

Markus Kreukniet is an electronic dance music (EDM) producer and founder of Passion for EDM. He wants to share his EDM knowledge with the rest of the world. Read more about Markus Kreukniet.

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