Larry ‘Mr. Fingers’ Heard
came to prominence in the early days of Chicago House for his work in his with Robert Owens and Ron Wilson as Fingers Inc. The music they produced helped define the genre and the era – many of the original tracks can be still be heard in DJ sets across the world and continue to influence house producers today. He mixed the warm euphoria of disco with the visionary, technologically inspired structures of early techno to create some of the most influential house music ever made.
His long career has continued almost uninterrupted, peaking again recently with the new wave of deep house. His warm acid productions that emphasize instrumentation rather than percussion exemplify the new sub-genre and have garnered him a new generation of listeners.
Heard was born in 1960, and grew up on the south side of Chicago immersed in the gospel and jazz his parents listened to. He started collecting records early, saving his lunch money to buy Sly & The Family Stone 45s. As a teenager he absorbed the influence of The Mama's & The Papa's, Jose Feliciano, Marvin Gaye, The Impressions, The Temptations and Dionne Warwick & The Fifth Dimension.
At seventeen, Heard took up drums and played in bands Infinity (a Jazz-fusion cover group that included future house icon Adonis on bass) and Manhattan Transfer until the early 80s, but found band set-ups too restrictive. However, playing with local bands had given Heard exposure to the electronic instruments that were beginning to gain popularity, and after finally buying a synthesizer and drum machine in 1984, he quickly produced fully formed tracks including Mystery of Love, Washing Machine
and Can You Feel It
, all later recognized as house classics.
Fingers Inc. was formed in 1985 by Heard with gospel vocalist Robert Owens and Ron Wilson. Between 1986 and 1987, Heard released nearly a dozen singles for Trax Records and DJ International. Fingers Inc. contributed Chicago classics like Mystery of Love, You're Mine, Distant Planet and Bring Down the Walls
while Mr. Fingers (Heard solo) released the definitive Chicago House anthem, Can You Feel It
. In 1988, Fingers Inc created the first house LP, Another Side
, for Jack Trax Records, The album spelt the end for the group however, and they split at the end of the year.
Heard continued his solo work under the Mr. Fingers moniker. In 1989, Jack Trax released Heard's original 1984 instrumental demos as the Mr. Fingers album Amnesia
By the beginning of the 90s, Heard was being courted by several labels, and
after working on production with Kym Mazelle, Lil Louis and Ricky Dillard among others, he signed to MCA and debuted with 1991's Introduction
. He released one more album as Mr. Fingers, Back to Love
, in 1994, which appeared on Black Market Records after a spat with MCA, and has since recorded under his real name.
He released several dance, R&B and ambient albums in the 90s and then relocated to Memphis at the end of the decade. In 2001, he signed to Track Mode for the release of Love's Arrival
, and its follow-up, 2003's Where Life Begins
. Heard continued to release consistently over the years, and made big waves again in 2006 with the single The Sun Can't Compare
(Alleviated Records), a collaboration with Memphis-based singer Chad White. His sweet and soulful vocals were laid over classic, subtle, acid house from Heard in what quickly became a deep house anthem.
Heard has also been known by the aliases Disco-D, Gherkin Jerks, Housefactors, The, Loosefingers, Trio Zero, and has been in groups Blakk Society, The It, and The Ram Project.
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