EDC Shines a Spotlight on the Pioneers of Electronic Dance Music

The Electric Daisy Carnival is having its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, EDC Las Vegas is bringing out some of the most influential names in all of electronic dance music history: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Frankie Bones.

Juan Atkins
Juan Atkins
Derrick May
Derrick May






Aside from the disco synths of Giorgio Moroder and the early electronica of Kraftwerk, no one has had the level of influence on the development of EDM that Juan Atkins has had. Atkins built the platform from which dance music would grow, effectively distinguishing the electronic music of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra from electronic dance music with the creation of its first great genre: Techno.

Atkins would teach Derrick May how to mix and the two of them, along Kevin Saunderson, would become known as The Belleville Three. Taking a note from Afrika Bambaataa’s legendary hip hop track “Planet Rock,” their tracks in the early 80’s would then become the platform on which Frankie Knuckles, a radio DJ in Chicago, would layer drum machine rhythms over the top of, leading to the creation of House music.

Techno and House are the two pillars on which all of electronic dance music stand, and Juan Atkins and Derrick May are two of the legends who started it all 36 years ago. Still drawing crowds, they are among the acts playing at EDC Las Vegas.

Frankie Bones
Frankie Bones courtesy of Johnny Edge Photography

So American-created EDM travelled to Europe as an infant, growing up there and splitting into many more genres, especially through the late 80’s and early 90’s. While America was having a love affair with grunge, Europe became completely immersed in EDM, so it is no surprise that the massive underground dance parties known as “raves” would start there. The Electric Daisy Carnival itself exists because of this rave culture, and more specifically the man who brought that culture to the United States, Frankie Bones.

Frankie was a techno and house DJ and producer, and in the late 80’s he flew to overseas to play the English rave Energy. On August 26, 1989, Frankie Bones was scheduled to play in front of an audience of about 5,000 people. Instead he ended up playing to a massive crowd of 25,000 fans and he fell in love with the rave scene.

On returning home to New York, he decided the U.S. needed raves too. Along the way he not only brought raves to the America, but he actually helped reinvent rave culture, including coining the term PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect), which defines the atmosphere at these parties to this day. And the rest, as they say, is history.

EDC Las Vegas runs from June 18 to June 20 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with attendance being typically above 130,000 people per day. While general admission tickets are sold out, there are still VIP packages available for those who want to experience the thrill of seeing these legendary DJs in person.


MrDread Is a writer, editor and photographer of the DreadMusicReview. He is an adventurer who travels as much as humanly possible, and has been to every state except Delaware.

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