Wednesday, July 23, 2014

About The Electrifying Mojo and The MFA

Posted by Harold Mansfield On November - 23 - 2008

The Electrifying Mojo ( Charles Johnson from Little Rock, Arkansas) was a Detroit disc jockey (1977-mid 90′s) who shaped the social development of a generation of music-lovers in Detroit and throughout southeastern Michigan, N. Ohio, and Canada, and was of importance to the development of Detroit Techno .

He is recognized for having introduced or “broken” many artists into the Detroit radio market, including Prince, The B-52′s, and Kraftwerk , and was occasionally thanked on-air by the artists for his support of their work.

At 12 Midnight, the mother ship would land and Mojo would call to order The Midnight Funk Association, a 1 hour segment featuring funk artist of the day including Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Zapp, Gap Band, Rick James, The Time, classic rock artists like Pink Floyd, and Peter Frampton. or alternative artists like Talking Heads.

The show was different every night. Sometimes, the MFA would stretch well beyond 1:00am and Mojo would introduce other segments or spend the last 2 hours of his show showcasing live mixes on two turntables, by bringing in local DJs to do the same.  Jeff Mills, began his career with Mojo as “The Wizard.” Mojo also would air music by local groups at this time, including Detroit House and Techno Godfathers Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Juan Atkins.

At the top of the show, Mojo opened membership to the MFA, and members new and old were asked to stand up to show solidarity.

* If you were driving you were to flash your headlights.
* If you were at home, you turned on your porch light.
* If you were in bed listening to the show, you were required to dance on your back.

And every night for years, people did it !

To become a card carrying member of the MFA, listeners wrote in the radio station and would receive their official MFA I.D. card.

Electrifying Mojo, and the Midnight Funk Association was one of the last great radio music shows of our time.  Many fans of the radio show credit Mojo for being fans of music that they would have otherwise never heard of.  He was a huge influence in turning millions of listeners into Prince fans, and many say was responsible for a six show sell out at Cobo Hall in Detroit in the late 80′s.

It is common to speak to fans of the show that will credit him for turning them on to Peter Frampton, The B-52′s, Pink Floyd, and many other artists that were never heard on Detroit’s “R and B” stations, yet he also supported emerging rap artists like Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, Whoodini, L.L. Cool J, and the many styles of music heard of the show fit together seamlessly as if they were mean to be enjoyed together.

The Godfathers and Originators of Detroit House and Techno Music, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, now known and respected around the world as groundbreaking, credit Mojo and the Midnight Funk Association as an early influence in their musical development and he frequently supported and played their early and history making tracks that launched Detroit techno to the entire world including Inner City’s “Good Life”, Derrick May’s “Strings of Life”, Cybotron‘s “Cosmic Cars”, Model 500 “No UFO’s”, “Technicolor”, “R9″ and so many others.

Mojo was known to support and embrace electronic music in it’s early stages and frequently played artists like Africa Bambaataa, Kraftwerk, and New Order as part of his nightly radio show.

In the Metro Detroit Area, The Midnight Funk Association was more than a nightly radio show, it was an event that listeners looked forward to every night for years.
It was common to see cars flashing thier lights at midnight and horns honking on the streets all over town at Midnight.

Mojo crossed color lines and did not adhere to a play list like today’s prepackaged radio stations and while broadcast on stations marketed toward the African-American market, his programming was an inspired blend of the best soul, funk, New Wave, and rock that defied standard radio industry formats and genres.

He believed that good music had no color, and should not be packaged into “Black” stations, and “White” stations, a concept still lost on today’s radio station owners, and program managers.

Electrifying Mojo and his Midnight Funk Association was the last of the great radio shows, and the last show that had any originality, and independent thought outside of a prestructured play list or carefully crafted demographic studies.

By following his love of music and adhering to a standard of just playing what was good,  Mojo accomplished something that radio has been unable to do since.  Capture a cross section of music lovers that encompassed every age, race, and finacial demographic, and create listeners andloyal fans that tuned in simply because they loved the DJ and the music.

Most recently, Mojo is serving as Program Director for a handful of Detroit radio stations – he does not publicize which ones – and he was in negotiations to bring his show to XM satellite radio in 2006, but so far nothing has been heard about it.

Fans from all over still speak of the legendary radio show, as well as, others who have heard about it and what it meant to so many, for so long.

For those of us that were there, The Midnight Funk Association will live in our hearts forever, and we will always be card carrying members.

It was truly one of the last great radio shows of our time.

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8 Responses

  1. Ms. Hill Said,

    Hey, I’m a teacher in Pittsburgh, PA. My students are reading poetry written by Electrifying Mojo. Do you know how to contact him? Please advise. I once had this information, but over the years it has been put in a ‘safe’ place. Thanks,

    Posted on March 12th, 2009 at 9:13 am

  2. Mark Vance Said,

    Wow!
    In 1979 I was a 16 year old white kid from London, Ontario Canada that new what music I liked but sure as hell didn’t hear much of ‘it’ in Canada. I worked weekends for a year at a local hospital and saved enough (at $5/hour) to purchase my first stereo receiver for the astronomical price of $245!!

    I had to take one speaker from the family room ‘stereo’ and wire it to my brand new Pioneer
    SX-580 with a whopping 20 watts of power! I had to thumb tack my aerial antenna wire to the bedroom ceiling (while rotating my outstretched arms like a slowly spinning crucifix to find the best reception, then stick the ends in) then at midnight while ‘spinning the dial’…. I found HIM! and the Midnight Funk Association; launching the mother-ship on the airwaves.

    And thus began my Mentor-ship with P-Funk and the wondrous and Electrifying MOJO!!!
    It was truly magical those many, many nights being swept away in a plethora of funkiness as I was introduced to so many great jams and phenomenal artists. I would even keep and pencil and paper bedside to write down the names of songs and artists the grooved me. I still have ALL the 45′s and 12″ singles and albums I bought simply by hearing them though the funktified ‘myst’ of MOJO…

    AND now I find this site!!!! Truly awesome and so glad to see there were so many others caught up in the magnificent show and great music that oozed from the ‘mutha’-ship!

    I’m smiling ear to ear and even teary eyed with the meaningful nostalgic memories the sound bites give me.

    long live the funk; thank YOU ‘MOJO’ !!
    *Mark ‘kid cannuck’ Vance*

    Posted on October 25th, 2009 at 10:25 am

  3. Donald Cooper Said,

    While listenenig to Looking for the Perfect Beat I recalled my membership to the Midnight Funk Association, I still have my card.

    I listened from the summer 1982 on WJLB while trying to find the songs I was dance rollerskating to. (120BPM).

    I remember drinking Jim Beam and listening to the
    Mothership land, then the extended mixes of Looking for the Perfect Beat, Blinded Me with Science, You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Atomic Dog, and Flashlight. I’d tape these and get my local rink to play them. (Dearborn Rollerdrome, which has since burnt to the ground and been replaced with Town-houses).

    Acquiesced the prerequisites of the Midnight Funk Association and am standing up and showing my solidarity, with my porch light on.

    I typed in Google, Midnight Funk Association and can’t believe the site is here. I left Michigan in ’84 and only had a few recordings. Can’t even find one of the landing, but still have a couple of the call to order’s (from 25 years ago on cassettes).

    So I subscribed by e-mail to the newsletter and hope to get access to copies of performances from the era I listened because the people I explain it to just don’t get it unless the lived near Detroit.

    It’s interesting to read Mojo went on to techno, because of the lack of disco music. I have a D.R.E.A.D. card too, which was a pathway to welcome funk over disco, rap too. I remember the battle to play Rapper’s Delight at the rink because it was so long. The DJ would always chop it part way through.

    Tie your knot and don’t let go, just hold on tight and say, “Whoa Wammy Whoa”.

    Posted on December 21st, 2009 at 1:45 am

  4. Jay Fresh Said,

    I lived in Detroit and Toledo and not only did hip hop music changed my life, so did the midnight funk association, Grandmaster Flash introduced the art of DJing and hip hop to me and the Electrifying Mojo introduced me to new wave, rock and listening to radio in a different way, i would not only turn the dial but if i had to use the bathroom i didnt move fearing i miss a good song and my guts would be hurting bad, but it was worth it Mojo changed alot of lives and made alot of future DJ’s, i even did his mothership landing on my college show when i was in broadcasting school, i always wanted to meet him in person and tell him thank you for changing my life, i already thanked Grandmaster Flash so my life cant be complete until i thank him, maybe one day i will meet the man who changed detroit and kept the funk alive for all theses years….we still remember and we will never forget.

    DJ JAY FRESH

    Posted on June 9th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

  5. Harold Mansfield Said,

    Jay,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I do apologize to everyone, I haven’t been back to keep the site up as much as I should, but I wouldn’t want this domain to fall into the wrong hands so I will keep it.
    I’m hoping that one day Mojo will call and ask for it, to start something new up.

    Posted on June 9th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

  6. Jay Fresh Said,

    Hey Harold,

    I want to thank you for this site and bringing back good memories

    Posted on June 15th, 2010 at 1:30 am

  7. Scott Brown Said,

    Nice little write up. Absolutely,Mojo opened the musical ears of the entire Detroit metro area. Just about every night of the summer of 1979 especially the weekends, I can recall being in the car with a bunch of friends just waiting for the Mothership to come get us so we could “acquiesce to the prerequisites of the Midnight Funk Association”…12:00 am would hit and BOOM!!… Mojo would kick out something like Knee Deep…then after the cut was over go into some more P-funk, or Prince or sumpin else funky as hell. “Don’t say damn, just say Whoa” naw “Whammy whoa”…”Double whammy whoa”……I remember going down to WGPR and getting my Midnight Funk Association card just so i could say I was a member lol, Ah, some good memories.Thank you Electrifying Mojo wherever you are.

    .

    Posted on September 20th, 2010 at 4:18 am

  8. Angel Said,

    Absolutely LOVED MoJo and the Midnight funk Association…Used to love listening to Prince and Teena Marie jams (constantly on his show..Not to mention he introduced me to rock music!!! I think Mojo was the original apology line too(????). I so miss The Electrifying MOJO and this era. I hope he is doing WELL. He sure is missed!!

    Posted on January 7th, 2011 at 4:03 am

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