The Examiner Interview:
As part of the “Know Your History” series, we will recap an interview from 1991 with Mike Hughes of AM/FM who sadly passed away on October 13, 2008. Hughes discusses why AM/FM was DC’s first “Go-Hop” Band. This interview gives insight into the brilliant mind of the legendary “Outta Site” Mike about the music industry and his role in creating his unique sound. Ahead of his time, this interview reflects a perspective of how the past has defined the state of the DMV’s Go-Go genre.

No stranger to the music business, “Outta Site” Mike Hughes, the backbone of AM/FM, has experienced the band’s development in the ever changing climate of the music business in Washington, DC and in the national arena as well. During an interview at Renegade Studio, Hughes shared his ideas about his band and the music industry itself.

AM/FM, the DC area’s only Go-Hop band has seen many personnel changes and has tasted sweet success over the years. Hughes describes Go-Hop as a mixture of Go-Go and Hip-Hop.

Hughes, one of the original members of Experience Unlimited, or E.U. as they are affectionately known, has been right there leading AM/FM through both the successes and the changes. The first generation of AM/FM included two other original members of E.U., Cleveland Battle and Gerard Butler, and was known as “The Crew” of Vaughan Mason and the Crew fame. In the late 70’s, the group enjoyed nationwide success with the song, “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll’, which reached #5 on the US Billboard Black Singles chart in 1980.

The group toured nationally in 1979 and into 1980 and, as they toured, the band got hotter and hotter. The Crew was soon offered a recording contract with Brunswick Records. Five days before the record was to be released, they found out that they couldn’t be called “The Crew”, so they became AM/FM, the first six piece Go-Go band. Their first record as AM/FM, “You are the One” went Gold.

When asked if AM/FM stood for “Ask Mike For Money” or “America’s Most Funky Musicians” as it had been rumored, Hughes laughed and replied, “AM/FM stands for ‘All Music for All Minds’ like the AM and FM side of the radio dial. That’s our concept and though the band has gone through changes, the point of having a concept has not changed. We’ve adopted a 90s look, but AM/FM still stands for ‘All Music for All Minds’, so it should be a timeless unit.”

As time passed, AM/Fm released another single called “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” as in the old Camay soap commercials. This also sold well and an album followed.

Hughes reminisces, “We started working as writers and producers for Brunswick and working with other groups such as D-Train with “You’re the One for Me” and the early BarKays. We became more of a writer/producer type group. We got into a bad management agreement and had to sit on the deal for the remainder of the contract so we came home to DC to do Go-Go again. That’s when AM/FM first appeared on the scene doing Go-Go music. We were really a funk/rock band, but since our roots were in Go-Go, coming from E.U., we chose to do Go-Go so we could sustain ourselves until we could get another deal.”

Production work continued to materialize for the group and that took off a little faster than the group did. They kept the group in the background and incorporated it as a business. It’s called the AM FAM Corporation and is a publishing company as well as a distributorship and record label. This really put Hughes on the map as a producer because not only has he worked with every group locally, but he also has worked with national recording artists Glenn Jones and Stephanie Mills.

Mike HughesIn 1987, the group decided to disband and the members went on to do individual projects. In 1989-90, the new generation of AM/FM was formed as was the concept of Go-Hop. The current lineup includes Tidy, Jimi Jam, Tray, Ron, Calvin, Tony, William, Maurice as well as Hughes.

Hughes reveals, “We are trying to stay with the youngins and basically be able to get the adult contemporary too. There has been so many types of Go-Go bands, but nobody’s really writing their own music on top of the Go-Go beat except for Chuck Brown. They just use grooves and hypes. Since the hip-hop industry moved in on the Go-Go, we just want to move back into hip-hop a little while adding our own sound.”

With the release of “Back on the Scene”, it was solidified that AM/FM had truly returned.

“’Back on the Scene’ did exceptionally well,” Hughes says. “It was an introductory tape and was not targeted in any one very strong direction. There’s a lot of music on the tape for a live Go-Go cassette, but there is a little less music than you’d expect on a live R&B tape. It got caught in the middle, but it helped to reestablish a quality and a standard that we want to put into the music in terms of the mixing and the sound and the type of music we play.”

The band does have new material in the works.

“We’ve currently got a tune called ‘Get Down Groove’ that’s targeted straight for the kids and don’t be surprised if you hear it on the radio pretty soon”, reveals Hughes.

AM/FM is also currently in negotiations with two major record labels.

The business does not end with the band, AM/FM. Renegade Entertainment Group, a management/production company which is comprised of a team of producers, promoters, managers and consultants, handles AM/FM. They offer a wide variety of services such as record production and record promotion with both independent and major record labels, as well as management. Hughes, as one of the producers, invites artists to Renegade Studio to come and record their projects.

Hughes says, “We assist in shopping, promoting and we have ties with major labels, so if the right project comes through, there’s an inlet here. Plus, we guarantee our sound. We work with a lot of artists from New York, Philadelphia and Miami as well as artists from the DC area. AM/Fm has cut about two albums worth of material and we have a couple of prospective bites. If we get a deal, the group will maintain a Go-Go profile in DC, but we will lighten the Go-Go touch out of the area.”

With all of the changes that AM/FM and Mike Hughes have been through, they have proven to be survivors. Through the late 70’s and 80’s and into the 90’s, with the music industry changing, AM/FM has been able to adapt their concepts and make a smooth transition. And like their music, AM/FM works and then comes back in circles, from Go-Go to R&B and back to another form of Go-Go, Go-Hop. AM/FM is still going strong.


Jul 05, 2014 | Category: Bands | Comments: none