When people think of DJs, it is usually the variety that plays music and provides entertainment at parties that springs to mind. The second type of DJ people think of is the ones who play music on the radio. However, there are some DJs who take their profession a step further and become international celebrities for their skills. The term DJ is an acronym for a disc jockey and this is a profession that involves playing music that has already been recorded. Some DJs reach a level where they are well-known on the club scene for their skills at remixing music and creating tracks that sound completely different when combined with other music or it is adapted using technology in such a way that it becomes a completely different song. When a DJ reaches this level in their career, it is not unusual for them to achieve further success by releasing albums of their work and performing across the globe to fans of all nationalities. Here are 20 of the top DJs of all-time.
20. Carl Craig
Carl Craig is widely considered one of the most influential people from the second generation of techno music in Detroit. This electronic music producer was born in Detroit, Michigan, on May 22, 1969. He showed musical talent from a young age as he could play the guitar. His interest in club music began because his cousin was working at parties in the Detroit area. He experimented with recording using a dual-deck cassette player and his parents then bought him a synthesizer and a sequencer. Craig enjoyed Derrick May’s radio show and a mutual friend passed on one of Craig’s tapes to May. This led to Carl Craig producing his first professional recording titled ‘Neurotic Behavior’ in 1989. This led to him performing as a DJ at festivals across the world and many more recordings followed.
Deadmau5 is the stage name of Joel Thomas Zimmerman who was born in Ontario, Canada, on January 5, 1981. Not only is he a DJ, he is also a record producer, a musician, and a composer. The majority of his music falls within the electronic music and progressive house genres. He began his professional career in the music industry in 1998, although he had shown promise as a musician from childhood. He chose his unusual stage name after finding a dead mouse under his computer. Deadmau5’s debut studio album ‘Get Scraped’ was released in 2005. He went on to produce many more albums and these often had unusual titles. For example ‘For Lack of a Better Name’, ‘Random Album Title’, ‘>album title goes here
18. Todd Terje
Todd Terje is one of the most successful Norwegian DJs of all-time. He was born as Terje Olsen in1981 in Norway but uses the stage name Todd Terje as this combines his own name with honoring house music producer Todd Terry. His older brother is Olaf Olsen and he plays the drums for Todd Terje when he is performing live. Terje began his career as a DJ in 1999. He soon became a big name on the music scene and has headlined at huge international festivals, such as the Sonar Festival in Barcelona. In terms of him releasing recorded music, his best-known track is ‘Inspector Norse’. This house track was released in 2012 and was created to show Terje’s love of dancing.
17. Loco Dice
Yassine Ben Achour was born in Tunis, Tunisia, on August 10, 1974. He is better known by his stage name Loco Dice and is now based in Dusseldorf, Germany. At the beginning of his career as a DJ, he supported many major acts. These included Jamiroquai, R. Kelly, Usher, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. During his career, he has released three albums. ‘Mininmal Explosion’ was his debut album and this was released in 2005. His second album, ‘Time Warp 07’, was released in 2007. His last album was released in 2009 and this was titled ‘7 Dunham Place’. Loco Dice has also released nine singles. The most recent of these was ‘Toxic EP’, which was released in 2012. He has collaborated with a cosmetic brand to create a nail polish that comes with a music mix.
Lorin Ashton was born on February 16, 1978, in Santa Cruz, California. He is better-known by the stage name Bassnectar. He initially pursued a career in the visual arts and was particularly interested in photography. However, he enjoyed going to rave parties during the mid-1990s and this his inspired his love of heavy and electronic styles of music, which he then began to create himself. He toured briefly as a bass player with ‘Exhumed’ before focusing on playing at house parties in the area around San Francisco Bay. His career took off when he began playing seven nights a week at ‘Burning Man’. In 2001, he released his first album, although he didn’t perform as Bassnectar until the following year. For most of his career, Bassnectar has focused on playing at festivals and touring in his own right. He sold over 250,000 tickets to people wanting to see him perform in 2012, and this did not include festivals.
15. Maya Jane Coles
Maya Jane Coles is one of the most successful female DJs of all time. She was born in London where she is still based and also works as a music producer and an audio engineer. She is of English and Japanese descent. When working under her own name, she generally plays house music. However, she also works under the alias of ‘Nocturnal Sunshine’ and focuses on dubstep. Furthermore, she is part of a duo with Lena Cullen called ‘She Is Danger’. This duo plays electronic dub. As Maya Jane Coles, she has released two studio albums. ‘Comfort’ was released in 2013 and this was followed by ‘Take Flight’ in 2017. As ‘Nocturnal Sunshine’, she released the 2015 album ‘Nocturnal Sunshine’.
14. Seth Troxler
Seth Troxler is an American DJ and producer who was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He began his career in the music industry in 2002 and still works in this industry now. During his career, he has collaborated with many other artists, including Tiefschwarz, Subb-an, Art Department, Matthew Dear, and Deetron. When creating music, he draws upon the musical heritage of Chicago and Detroit. People who he has named as his influences include Moodymann and Richie Hawtin. Seth Troxler has won many awards for his music. In addition to creating his own music, he is also the founder of the Visionquest record label. Outside his career in music, he owns a London restaurant called Smokey Tails.
13. Ricardo Villalobos
Best-known for producing music in the microhouse and minimal techno genres, Ricardo Villalobos is a German DJ and producer who was born in Santiago de Chile, Chile, in 1970. His first venture into music was playing the bongos and conga as a child. It was the late 1980s before he began to make electronic music. One of his inspirations was Depeche Mode as he was a huge fan who traveled around Europe to go to their tours. His professional career began in 1998. He played at the Berlin Loveparade in 2006 alongside Luciano and Richie Hawtin. Between 2003 and 2012, he released five albums. In both 2008 and 2010, he was named at the top of list of the 100 Best DJs by Resident Advisor.
12. DJ Harvey
Harvey Bassett was born in London and became known as DJ Harvey when he began as his professional career. He first became interested in a career in music when he was a drummer in a punk band called ‘Ersatz’ during his teens. The group formed their own indie label called ‘Leisure Sounds’ and released the single ‘Smile in Shadow’. It was during a trip to New York that DJ Harvey was inspired by the hip-hop movement. He bought a pair of Technics and began to practise. At this time, he became a part of a hip-hop group called TDK before moving on to focus on garage and house music as a solo artist. He began playing at house parties and clubs in London. He then relocated to Los Angeles to focus on his music career. In addition to his work as a solo artist, he is also the co-founder of the Black Crock record label. At the 2014 DJ Awards in Ibiza, he received the Outstanding Contribution Award. This was in recognition of his work and influence in the electronic music industry.
11. Boys Noize
Alexander Ridha was born in Hamburg, Germany, on August 22, 1982. He is better known by his stage name ‘Boys Noize’. This German DJ is also an electronic music producer and is the founder of the record label Boysnoize Records. As a producer, he has remixed the work of many other artists, including that of Depeche Mode and Snoop Dogg. He became a DJ at an early age and worked under the alias of Kid Alex to support DJ Hell and Felix Da Housecat. He is known for merging a variety of musical styles and using influences from disco and hip-hop roots. In addition to his solo work, he also collaborated with ‘Scissor Sisters’, the New York band, on the album ‘Only the Horses’. He released his first studio album ‘oi Oi Oi’ in 2007 and has since released a further eight albums. His two most recent, both released in 2017, were ‘Mayday Remixes, Pt. 1’ and Mayday Remixes, Pt. 2’.
10. James Murphy
James Murphy is a famous American DJ, record producer, musician, singer, and songwriter. He was born in New Jersey on February 4, 1970. He is most famous for the musical project ‘LCD Soundsystem’. This first came to the public’s attention in 2002 when he released the single ‘Losing My Edge’ which was part of the project. In 2005, he released an album that was also called ‘LCD Soundsystem’. This was particularly successful in the UK as it reached the Top 20. In 2007, he released his second studio album ‘Sound of Silver’ followed by ‘This Is Happening’ in 2010. These were both critically well received. When LCD Soundsystem disbanded on 2011, James Murphy concentrated on solo projects.
Sonny John Moore was born in Los Angeles on January 15, 1988. He is better known by the stage name Skrillex. He is a DJ, electronic dance music producer, a musician, and a songwriter. In 2004, he joined the post-hardcore band ‘From First to Last’ taking on the role of lead singer. He recorded two studio albums with this band in 2004 and 2006. In 2007, he decided to pursue a solo career and began to prepare his debut solo album. However, recording of this album ceased and he began distributing the EP ‘My Name is Skrillex’ as the new artist he had become. He went on to release several more albums that were relatively successful commercially. During 2011, he won a string of awards for his music and this helped him to grow in popularity. He has continued successfully with his solo career, reunited with ‘First to Last’, and produced music with many other well-known artists.
8. Danny Tenaglia
Danny Tenaglia is one of the best-known DJs on the garage, tribal, and techno music scenes. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 7, 1961. This multi-award winning artist has won two Muzik Awards, three DJ Awards, and three International Dance Music Awards. Furthermore, he has also been nominated for a Grammy. He first achieved mainstream success in 1993 when he released a remix of The Daou’s ‘Surrender Yourself’. He released his debut album in 1995 and claimed that the influences for his music were Kraftwerk and Patti LaBelle. Danny Tenaglia is also a record producer and the host of an annual music party.
7. Larry Levan
Larry Levan was best-known for being the resident DJ at Paradise Garage, a New York City night club. He was born in New York on July 20, 1954. Levan is typically associated with garage, club, dance, house, and post-disco music. Unlike many other DJs who focus on the techno and electronic aspects of music, he has focused on making remixes of many classic disco and gospel songs. He has developed a cult following due to his unique style of music. Sadly, Larry Levan died on November 8, 1992, at the age of just 38. The cause of death was heart failure as a result of endocarditis.
6. David Guetta
One of the most famous DJs of the current day is David Guetta and this is despite having a career that dates back to 1984. He was born as Pierre David Guetta in Paris, France, on November 7, 1967. Not only is he a DJ, he is also a record producer, a remixer, and a songwriter. Along with Jean-Charles Carre and Joachim Garraud, he is the co-founder of Gum Productions. He first achieved mainstream success in 2009 when he released the album ‘One Love’. This led to him releasing a string of hit singles form the album, including ‘When Love Takes Over’, ‘Sexy Bitch’, ‘Memories’, and ‘Getting’ Over You’. His second album, ‘Nothing but the Beat’, was released in 2011. From this album, he released one of his most successful singles, ‘Titanium’ which featured Sia. During his career, this DJ has sold over 30 million singles and nine million albums worldwide.
Thomas Wesley Pentz was born in Mississippi on November 10, 1978. He is a rapper, DJ, record producer, singer, songwriter, and record executive who is better known by the stage name Diplo. He began his career in 1997 and has since releases many albums and performed under a variety of names and alongside other artists. M.I.A. gave him exposure in his early career when the two worked alongside each other. He is part of the duo Jack U with DJ Skrillex and one of his songs was once featured in a Hyundai car advertisement. Prior to working in the music industry, Diplo worked as a school teacher. In his personal life, he has two sons, Lazer and Lockett, with Katherine Lockhart.
Kaskade is the stage name of Ryan Gary Robinson who was born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 25, 1971.He is a DJ, a remixer, and a record producer. In both 2011 and 2013, the DJ Times voted him America’s Best DJ. He began his career as a DJ in 1989. However, it was until late 2008 that this artist became popular as it was at this time that there was a revival of American progressive house, the genre with which he is usually associated. Despite him not achieving widespread popularity until this time, he was already well-established within the industry and had achieved success. He had released his debut single, ‘What I Say’, in 2001. Since then, he has released a further 11 albums. The most recent two, ‘Redux EP 002’ and ‘Kaskade Christmas’, were both released in 2017. Between 2011 and now, he has completed seven tours with the last taking place in 2015.
3. Swedish House Mafia
Swedish House Mafia is a house music supergroup that was officially formed in 2008. It consists of Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello. Each of the members is a successful DJ in their own right. The groups first single was called ‘Get Dumb’ and this was released in 2007. One of their most successful tracks was their 2012 single ‘Don’t Worry Child’. Not only was this their most successful track, it was also the last one they released together as a group. The song featured John Martin and reached number one in the UK, Australia, and Sweden. It was also a top 10 hit in many other countries across the globe. Sadly, the group decided to split and performed together for the final time on March 24, 2013, at Ultra Miami, which was the last date of their tour ‘One Last Tour’
When thinking of DJs of today, Avicii is often the first artist that will come to people’s minds. This talented artist has enjoyed an astronomic rise to fame since he became a professional DJ in 2006 which has led to him become extremely successful and very wealthy. Avicii is the stage name of Tim Bergling who was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 8, 1989. He collaborated with David Guetto on ‘Sunshine’ in 2012, and was nominated for a Grammy twice for this track. His debut album ‘True’ was released in 2013 followed by a second album, ‘Stories’, in 2015. He then released an EP titled ‘Avici (01)’ in 2017. Some of his best-known singles include ‘Wake Me Up’, ‘Addicted to You’, ‘I Could Be the One’ and ‘The Days’. Sadly Avicci passed away this year.
Tijs Michiel Verwest was born in Breda, Netherlands, on January 17, 1969. He is usually referred to by his stage name Tiesto. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential, talented, and successful DJs of all-time. Tiesto began his career in 1994 and the genres of music with which he is typically associated include progressive house, electro house, future house, trance, deep house, and Big room house. He has earned himself the nickname of the ‘Godfather of EDM’. Between 1998 and 200, he worked under the name ‘Gouryella’ in collaboration with Ferry Corsten. The single that helped him achieve mainstream popularity was his 200 remix of Delirium’s ‘Silence’. This single featured the vocals of Sarah MacLachlan. He also created a remix of John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ and this earned him a Grammy Award. During his career, he has released five studio albums, the latest one of which was called ‘A Town in Paradise’ and this was released in 2014.