Ken Collier belongs on the same mantel that holds Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles, David Mancuso, Grooverider, and Kool Herc esteemed as the true fathers of modern electronic dance music. In the late '70s, Collier was the DJ that inspired Detroit youngsters -- and soon-to-be techno innovators -- such as Eddie Fowlkes, Derrick May, and Mike Grant, to begin spinning records. After he formed True Disco Productions in 1977, Detroit saw its first serious dance club, Chessmate, where Collier was before becoming the resident at the Motor City's famed Studio 54 Detroit in 1979. By the mid-'80s, Collier still reigned as the city's most-recognized DJ with his appearances at the legendary Heaven club, until eventually being eclipsed by his followers, ambitious young DJs such as Jeff Mills and Derrick May. Though he was eventually forgotten in the myths of Detroit -- often replaced by the equally influential Electrifying Mojo -- he continued spinning in the mid-'90s until he passed away.
by Jason Birchmeier