Beginning his career in the music industry, that is where Tom Moulton’s passion lived, however he would have to take another road that would eventually take him back home to music. Born in Schenectady he always loved music and the radio. At age 17 he moved to California where he worked as a buyer for the jukebox giant Seeburg selecting 45’s that would fill the companies machines. Back to the east coast he worked with RCA and United Artist. Disillusioned by the industry he went on an extended trip to Europe until a tooth repair brought him home. Newly thinned by the results from the tooth issue he was approached by a modeling agency and signed on.
Aware of his love of music, Moulton’s booking agent introduced him to fellow model John Whyte who owned properties in Fire Island Pines. Moulton visited the Fire Island hotspot and was indelibly and lovingly shocked. He saw people, especially white people dancing to black music. He was home. As he listened to the music playing he noticed a glitch. A three minute glitch to be exact. In between each song played by the DJ was a pause of three minutes as he would try to mix one song with another. This was a buzz kill for many on the floor ending the dance. He saw the problem and felt he could possibly solve the problem. He would make a tape that overlapped the transitions so people couldn’t leave the dance floor. The tape took about 80 hours in total to make. The end result was a 45 minute, end to end reel tape that he was excited to share with Whyte. He was less excited and not interested.
A rejected Moulton returned to Fire Island one last time, to retrieve his tape. While waiting for his boat he ran into Gene Smith owner of the Sandpiper. He was intrigued and asked to give it a try at the club. The following Friday night he got a call from Smith’s partner Ron Malcom telling him that the tape had bombed. Moulton was crushed again. The following night another call. This time all he could hear was music blasting in the back round as a very excited Ron Malcolm excitedly told him it was a huge hit with the Saturday night crowd. It seemed that on a Friday after a work week the crowd wanted the familiar, but Saturday rested, relaxed they were ready to party.
The crowd wanted new stuff so badly that Malcolm requested a new tape every week. Remembering the 80 hour marathon he agreed to a new tape for every holiday. Ultimately the tape total came to nine and although the pay was good Moulton cared more for the buzz it was generating. He re-entered the music. Using what he learned he produced Gloria Gaynor’s classic disco album “Never can say Goodbye” with its first ever continuous mix side.
He went on to work with The Trammps, Andrea True, Claudja Barry, and Grace Jones ultimately creating the 12″ disco single. In 2004 Tom Moulton was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. He helped create the soundtrack to not only disco music, but of Fire Island history.
Here Tom Moulton talks of working with singer Grace Jones on the making of her three albums: