Boyd Jarvis, Whose Synthesizer Fueled Dance Music, Dies at 59

Their raw, minimalist mixes became popular with the club kids in New York and soon spread to other cities.

“He came up with his own style of bass lines, and he parlayed the bass lines into a lot of different music, and it opened the gateway to what they now call house music,” Mr. Regisford said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.


Mr. Jarvis in Manhattan in 2015. His bass lines “really penetrated the dance floor; it was deeper than any bass that you could ever hear,” his collaborator said.

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Mr. Jarvis’s bass lines “really penetrated the dance floor; it was deeper than any bass that you could ever hear,” Mr. Regisford continued. “That’s what signified his sound.”

The two released “The Music Got Me,” a dance song with a sinuous bass line, in 1983.

Visual – The Music Got Me (12” Instrumental Mix)1983 Video by GrVidsMaster3

“We had a vibe, and a ragtag, rough edge to what we did,” Mr. Jarvis said in an interview with Red Bull Music Academy in 2016. “Our stuff wasn’t orthodox at all. We were just kids, with toys that we were playing with, and the record became big.”

They went on to produce records, sometimes in collaboration with artists and under different names, and remixed songs by Madonna, Sade and Chaka Khan, among others.

Mr. Jarvis also worked as an uncredited session musician, playing for artists like Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Patti LaBelle, Mr. Regisford said.

Boyd Henry Jarvis was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 26, 1958. He moved to Boston to live with his father, Henry Jarvis, a freelance photographer, after his mother, Joan Smith, died in 1968 from injuries sustained in a car crash.

After Mr. Jarvis returned to Brooklyn in his late teens, he became quickly immersed in the club scene and taught himself to play the synthesizer.

In the early 1990s, he sued the producers Robert Clivillés and David Cole — known for their hip-hop-inflected dance records — for sampling “The Music Got Me” on a song titled “Get Dumb! (Free Your Body).” The case was settled for a little under $100,000, his family said.

Yvette Jarvis said her brother had been making and recording music until his death. In addition to her, he is survived by another sister, Lorraine Jarvis; his partner, Beverly Jackson; two daughters, Monique and Genesys Jarvis; two sons, Azande and Zion; and many grandchildren.

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