How Hip Hop Pioneer Sal Abbatiello Revolutionized the Music Industry

Hey there, it's Daymond John, and I'm thrilled to have you join us for an exciting episode of "That Moment with Daymond!" We've got a fitting guest for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop – the legendary Sal Abbatiello. He's here to share his upbringing, the industry connections he made, and much more!

Who is Sal Abbatiello?

It’s the 50th anniversary of hip hop, so who better to share inside access to than Pioneer of Hip Hop Sal Abbatiello?

Sal was born and raised in the Bronx, and his extensive music career started while he was bartending at his father’s bar. Studio 54 had disco taking NYC by storm, and Sal took the plunge and opened his own club in the Bronx, the Playhouse. He went on to open up Disco Fever with his father, and committed to positioning the new club at the forefront of the newest music craze: hip hop.

Sal recruited Grand Master Flash to play at the club, and it quickly became a hot spot for discovering rising hip hop artists. Just a few years later, in 1982, Sal was convinced by Russell Simmons to launch his own record company. He formed Fever Records, which fell under his Fever Enterprises that went on to raise over $60,000 for the United Negro College Fund. In 1984, Sal and a few sponsors like Coca-Cola filled 6,000 seats at Radio City Music Hall for its first citywide rap show and talent contest. 

Sal continued to grow in the hip hop industry and shifted his focus from nightclubs to records, and he scouted and launched some of the best known artists today, from Wu Tang Clan to Fat Joe to Run DMC and everyone in between. Sal’s story is so deeply rooted in the music industry, and I’m excited for listeners to hear him share his background and experiences in his own words.

Show Notes:

Chances are, you’ve sung or rapped along to one of the artists that guest Sal Abbatiello discovered or launched through one of his nightclubs or his record company. Sal is a legend in the music industry, and I know this episode will have my older listeners reminiscing on the early hip hop days and younger listeners excited to share their new music knowledge with their friends.

Sal reflected on his early days trying to convince the people around him to give hip hop a chance and the incredible story of how he brought hip hop into the Bronx clubs and pushed it into the mainstream. Who would’ve thought that a club night where you only charge $1/person could launch a legendary DJ’s career? (You’ll have to listen to find out who!)

Tune in now to learn all about how:

  • Sal recognized the power of DJs and created a recurring platform for them
  • The community was always the driving force behind Sal’s efforts
  • The people of the Bronx came to see Sal as a mentor - and the generosity that he showed in return
  • The second and third generations of hip hop were discovered
  • Sal pushes himself to go after what he’s most afraid of losing

Listen on Spotify, iHeart or Apple Podcasts

🎧 Catch the full episode on Spotify Podcast

🎧 Catch the full episode on iHeart Podcast

🎧 Catch the full episode on Apple Podcast

Host: Daymond John

Producers: Beau Dozier & Shanelle Collins; Ted Kingsbery, Chauncey Bell, & Taryn Loftus

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