One of the dance figures whose influence and exposure far exceeds his actual name recognition, Walter Gibbons pioneered the concept of the remix and 12" single in America. Influenced by Jamaican dub producers, Gibbons began altering tracks for his DJ sets in the early '70s, then took his innovations to the studio and recorded the first commercially available remix singles. He started his career as a DJ, and became one of the most popular mixers in New York by the early '70s. Gibbons began working for Salsoul Records in 1976, and recorded his first remix singles that year, Double Exposure's "Ten Percent" and the Salsoul Orchestra's "Nice 'n' Nasty." Utterly transformed with the addition of echo/reverb effects borrowed from dub and drum breaks, the singles influenced dozens of producers (and DJs).
As well, the tracks' influence hardly ended away from the dancefloor. Released on the 12" vinyl format at a cheap price, they became incredibly popular and soon spurred other labels (including the majors) to begin releasing their own 12" remix singles as well. Gibbons also worked on tracks for West End and Gold Mind during the late '70s, but was inactive for several years. He returned in 1984 with his most seminal record yet, a classic on New York's growing garage scene known as "Set It Off." Gibbons' original soon became the "Roxanne, Roxanne" of the garage community, swamped by dozens of remakes and answer tracks, including versions by C. Sharp, Masquerade, Number 1, and Strafe (the latter is undoubtedly the most heard and definitive). He also remixed a 1986 Arthur Russell single for Sleeping Bag, Indian Ocean's "School Bell/Tree House," but later left the recording industry altogether. He passed away in 1994, a victim of AIDS-related symptoms. Years later, he had his remixes compiled on the three-disc Mixed with Love (2004), which focused on his work for Salsoul, and the wider-scoped two-disc Jungle Music (2010). ~ John Bush, Rovi