Zoë Blade's notebook

Acid house

Acid house is a subgenre of house music that features an acidline as a main hook.

As with house in general, it originated in Chicago, pioneered by Black musicians in the 1980s. Specifically, in 1985 DJ Pierre of Phuture realised the TB-303 sounded really good when he tweaked its knobs live, evolving the sound as it was playing.

Pierre gave his live knob twiddling track to fellow DJ Ron Hardy to play at The Music Box. People started calling it "Ron Hardy's acid track", as they'd dance to it while on LSD. Unaware it was a drug reference, Pierre went along with the title "Acid Tracks" when he gave it to Marshall Jefferson to release. When he found out, he wrote the song "Your Only Friend", which warns of the dangers of cocaine abuse.[1]

The genre quickly spread to Europe, where British ravers in the late 1980s and early 1990s were ironically largely fuelled by ecstasy.


[Pierre] made the mistake of telling all his DJ friends that it was a TB-303 on "Acid Tracks", so next thing I knew, within four months there were about sixty acid records out, and within five more months there were over a thousand — just in Chicago!

— Marshall Jefferson, 1989[2]

I started twisting the knobs, seeing what they do, because that's what I do: twist knobs. So I was doing that, and we fell in love with the sounds it was making. We fell in love with how I was twisting the knobs with the beat. And then I started twisting them a certain way, and putting emotion and feeling behind it, and Spanky was, like, "Yo, Pierre, keep doing that, I like that." I was, like, "Yeah, this is something!" We were, like, "Yo, that's style." We said "Forget trying to make a bassline, let's program it like this and just twist the knobs." And so that's what we did, you know?

— DJ Pierre, Phuture, 2014[1]

Notable examples


  1. "Back to the Phuture: DJ Pierre on Inventing Acid and Why EDM Fans Need to Learn Their History" Ruth Saxelby, The Fader, Aug 2014
  2. "Emotional Foundations" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Mar 1989, pp. 54—57

Genres: Acid house