Junk Yard Band

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Junk Yard Band
Origin Washington, D.C., USA
Genres Go-go
Years active 1980–present
Members Buggs, Gene Pratt, KC, Mo Shorter, Wink-O, Daniel Baker, Demi-Doc, T-Bob, Dre Dog, Bruce Bailey, Dave Ellis aka 32, Plucky, Mike Strong, Blue Eye Darryl, Peetey, Black Pooh, Jason Lane
Past members Heavy One, Shorty Pop, Lil Derrick

The Junk Yard Band is a Washington, D.C based go-go band, founded in the early 1980s by children playing on improvised instruments.[1] They are best known for their songs- "Sardines" and "The Word"


The band was formed in 1980 by children, ranging in age from 8 to 13, living in the Barry Farm government housing project in Washington, D.C..[1] They were inspired to play after witnessing the performances of local go-go bands in their neighborhood. Not having resources to purchase traditional instruments, the children instead scoured their neighborhood in search of objects that could emulate the sound of real instruments: hubcaps, plastic buckets, crates, cans, and discarded pots and pans-these type of GoGo bands were called "Bucket Bands".[1] After a few informal performances in Barry Farm, the group was dubbed the "Junk Yard Band" by locals. This is perhaps a reference to the animated television program, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, whose band "The Junk Yard Gang" also performed on improvised instruments.

With go-go music gaining in popularity, and the band gaining local notoriety, the band began booking performances at schools, recreation centers, fundraisers, and government agencies. The band was often seen performing for tourists on the streets of Washington, D.C. This popularity led to appearances in a 1984 Cavalier Men's Store television advertisement, the 1983 film D.C. Cab and the 1988 film Tougher Than Leather with Run-D.M.C. It was this interaction with Run-D.M.C.'s DJ Run that led to an eventual recording contract with older brother Russell Simmons' Def Jam Recordings.

Far from being a novelty act Junkyard can be thought of as the creators of the new school in terms of their contribution to the world of Go Go. Before them every Go Go band of any significance had a horn section, bass guitar player and most likely a lead guitar player also. Early Junkyard had none of these but instead developed a characteristic layered percussion sound based on improvised instruments.

However, by 1986 the only contributing improvised instruments were plaster buckets and other things in replication of the standard Go Go three roto-tom two timbales configuration.

In 1992 tragedy struck the band when original member and drummer "Heavy One" was gunned down in the same Barry Farms projects where the band perfected their bucket band style.[2]

As the 90's progressed the two Go Go bands most responsible for creating new young fans were the Northeast Groovers and the Backyard Band. These two groups overtly during live performances proclaimed Junkyard as their inspiration and still mentor of some sort. One significant trend that Junkyard formalized is the one, two and three mics of the Go Go world.

A one mic is the band leader or in Go Go parlance , the "Talker". The two mic initially was the hype backup to the one mic but eventually became the rapper as well. The three mic is the designated or best singer in the group. All of these duties had been taken on in other bands by bass and lead guitar players, horn players and only rarely by vocal only members. By 1988 Junkyard 's front line of Buggs as 1 mic, Bruce Bailey as 2 mic and Gene Pratt as three standardized the form that all subsequent young bands would follow.

A telling influence of the Junkyard Band on younger subsequent bands is in their naming tendencies. Beginning with the Backyard Band around 91-92, the advent of what could be called the three letter B's began forming.

First of all the Junk Yard Band is popularly known as JYB. Then the equally popular Back Yard Band became known as BYB. As the 2000's progressed most of the young bands responsible for creating yet another generation of Go Go fans draw their naming tendencies, ei.TCB, TOB, CCB and UCB, and band format from the Junkyard Band.

Recording career[edit]

DefJam released the band's song "Sardines" as a single in 1986. The song received considerable airplay, and the band embarked on a tour of the United States as an opening act for acts such as Guy, Salt-n-Pepa, Tupac Shakur, The Roots, and labelmates Beastie Boys and Slayer. No longer viewed simply as a novelty act, the group performed at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center and the Apollo Theater.

The group signed with Street Records, a Motown Records subsidiary, in 1992.



Title Format Label Year
The Word / Sardines LP Def Jam 1986
Live at Safari Club LP Street Records 1989
Don't Sleep on Us LP Street Records 1991
Creepin' Thru Da Hoodz LP Street Records 1994
Reunion 95 LP Street Records 1996
Go Hard LP Street Records 1996
The Beginning/The End LP Liaison 1999

Singles and EPs[edit]

Title Format Label Year
Jigglin' Baby 12" EP Street Records
The Word/Sardines 12" EP Def Jam 1986
The Word/Sardines 7" single Def Jam 1986
Ruff It Off 12" EP Street Records 1992
Loose Booty/Let It Ride (Socket Beat) 12" EP Street Records 1994
The Rippa Medley/Ha Ha, Yuck Yuck Yuck Yah 12" EP Street Records 1995
Here Come The Freaks/Uh Oh 12" EP Street Records 1996
JY On The Rise (Wink & Dog)/Redrum 12" EP Street Records 1996
Tiddy Balls 12" EP Street Records 1996

Many bootleg tapes and cds of the band's live shows are in circulation. Although recordings exist from throughout the band's existence, recordings from the band's prime era (1987–1997) are the most sought-after.


  1. ^ a b c Lornell, Kip; Stephenson, Jr., Charles C. (2001). The Beat: Go-Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip-Hop. Billboard Books. pp. 262, 279. ISBN 0-8230-7727-6. 
  2. ^ Thomas-Lester, Avis (October 7, 1992). "Slain Go-Go Drummer Eulogized". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]