For DJ Clark Kent, DJ Spinbad — who died Tuesday at 46 — was a superman among spinners.
“He was a super student of the craft,” said Kent of the Queens-born spinmaster, who, in addition to his club gigs, was famous for his mixtapes and his radio sets on Z100 and Power 105.1. “He was a technical wizard on the turntables. He really went all the way for it. He practiced all the time. He started new things all the time. He was elite.”
And on top of the skills that made Spinbad a “very important DJ in New York club culture and New York radio culture,” Kent said that “he was loved amongst the DJs.”
Kent’s love for Spinbad — whose real name was Chris Sullivan — goes back to the early ’90s. “I used to train DJs back in the day . . . and then I started training one of my nephews, DJ GIS,” said Kent. “Him and Spinbad used to practice together, and he would come back and tell me about Spinbad. And then ’93 was when I really met him, and he was really good — and he never stopped trying to be better.”
So what made Spinbad so magical on the wheels of steel? “He was thoughtful and very crafty with music,” said Kent, himself a renowned DJ in the New York scene and beyond. “It just wasn’t [playing] records. He wanted it to be on another level than just mixing some songs . . . His mixing and his musical styles were ill. And he wasn’t afraid to use everything. You never knew what you were gonna hear, and he made it seamless.”
Kent last saw Spinbad, whose cause of death was not revealed, a few years ago when they played a party together.
“He was on the road a lot, I was on the road a lot. But it was always cool when I saw him,” he said, noting that they spoke a few times since last spinning together. “He was super humble, always nice. I always thought he was, like, the nicest guy.”
D-Nice — who Kent mixes it up with in the virtual party space of Club Quarantine — was also shaken up by his fellow DJ’s death. “It was definitely heartbreaking,” he said, adding that Spinbad “always greeted me with love.”
Spinbad leaves behind many DJs who were influenced by him, including DJ I Rock Jesus, who posted an Instagram tribute to him. “I heard his mixtapes in the ’90s, and it really inspired me to start doing mixtapes,” said the Hampton, Va.-based DJ, whose real name is Garrick Slade. “Hearing his mixtapes really blew my mind.”
Even after switching to playing Christian music, Spinbad remained a source of inspiration for DJ I Rock Jesus: “He influenced a lot of people. He changed the game in mixtapes and DJing. I wish I had met him personally, but that never happened . . . I truly wish I had a chance to at least talk to him just to say, ‘Brother, you really inspired me to do a lot of what I’m doing now.’ ”