From what started as an experiment by programming the Roland TB-303 Bass module to perform drum patterns by DJ Pierre and his group Phuture, the genre of acid house quickly developed. Acid house is minimalistic, danceable and machine-like, and soon caught the ear of DJ Ron Hardy who famously had to play the track in a show four times before the audience decided to like it. The acid house scene peaked in Chicago between 1987 and 1988, started to dwindle, and then pick back up and become further evolved across the pond in Manchester, London. The smiley face would eventually be the symbol of acid house music around the world.


Acid house is a heavily programmed adaptation of Chicago house, with its main elements fed into a Roland TB-303 bass module. The ease of the 303’s use and relatively cheap price made acid house production more accessible to non-musicians.


Minimalism, machine sounds, and the signature squelch of the 303 bass are acid house staples. The quirkiness from the squelches, rawness from the drums and minimalism of the deep bass lines create a very atmospheric yet driving soundscape. The bizarre instrumentation in acid house is balanced by the use of repetition and simple structure. There is also a sense of “letting go of logic and accepting the chaos within”.

Sleezy D – “I’ve lost control”

Chicago, 1986

Sleezy D and Marshall Jefferson release the first acid house track “I’ve Lost Control” on legendary Trax Records.

Phuture – “Acid Tracks”

Chicago, 1987

Phuture & Doorly release the iconic record “Acid Tracks”, often credited as being the first true acid house record.

Mr. Fingers – “Acid Attack”

Chicago, 1987

With “Acid Attack”, Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers) starts to explore the possibilities of acid house’s key instrument, the TB-303 bass synthesizer.

Maurice – “This Is Acid”

Chicago, 1988

“This is Acid” by Maurice becomes a number one Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart single.

New Order – “Blue Monday” (808 State Remix)

Manchester, 1988

808 State’s acid house remix of New Order’s “Blue Monday” is popularized at The Hacienda bar in Manchester, UK, and subsequently sets the foundation of UK acid house.

A Guy Called Gerald – “Voodoo Ray”

Manchester, 1988

A Guy Called Gerald releases acid house classic “Voodoo Ray”, reflecting the maturity of the acid house sound and its use of the TR-303.