by Jay Gabler
December 06, 2021
“Minneapolis is mourning the loss of the legendary 89.9 KMOJ and club DJ Brother Jules, who was a frequent presence at Prince's Paisley Park afterparties in the 1990s and whose scratching can be heard on the New Power Generation album Exodus,” wrote Prince’s official social media accounts in a Monday statement.
The statement continues, “Prince first discovered Brother Jules at the iconic downtown Minneapolis club Glam Slam, where he was DJing in the early 1990s. Prince quickly invited Brother Jules to spin at Paisley Park, and would often slip him his latest material to include in his DJ sets.”
Update 12/11: A memorial service and memorial concert have been announced in honor of Brother Jules.
Word of Jules’s passing spread over the weekend after it was announced on KMOJ, with many of his DJ peers and proteges sharing tributes. “R.I.P. to a true icon here in the Twin Cities,” wrote DJ Flash. “One of our home town legends.”
As reported by Harry Colbert Jr. in a 2019 Insight News profile, Jules’s musical adventures - and his connections to Prince - started early. “I started spinning at the age of 13,” the man born Julian White told Colbert. “I started at Bernadette’s teen club. Bernadette Anderson, who was Andre Cymone’s mother, had a teen club where the YWCA is now in Uptown. I started spinning for my peers there. I just jumped right in.”
Jules was still a teenager, in the 1980s, when he played his first set at First Avenue’s Mainroom and started working as a DJ at KMOJ. By the ‘90s, he was tapped by Sharon Smith-Akinsanya to spin at Prince’s nightclub Glam Slam. Jules would go on to man the turntables at all four Glam Slam clubs (Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, and Tokyo), as well as at Paisley Park.
“He took care of me,” Jules said, to Colbert, about Prince. “He sent me to college; bought me my first crib…he did all that for me.”
Jules paid it forward, according to testimonials from many DJs and artists who worked with the multi-instrumentalist.
Freddie Bell remembered Brother Jules letting him know that Prince had been listening to KMOJ in 1994 and wondered why Bell was spinning “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” every morning at 6 a.m. “I just like the song,” Bell explained.
“Having just moved to the Twin Cities, I wasn’t aware of the deep relationship Brother Jules had with Prince and how much of an impact the two of them were having on the music scene,” wrote Bell. “Bar none, Brother Jules is the most prolific jock to spin the wheels of steel and was always willing to pass his knowledge along to aspiring Dee Jays.”
“I could go on for days about his sonic accolades but it was his genuine heart that made him a truly special brother!” wrote DJ Stage One on Instagram. “DJ BROTHER JULES will forever be immortalized as being apart of generation of kids & party DJs from the 80's who set the tone for today's hip-hop and night life climate in the Twin Cities.”
Stage One later spoke to Sani Brown and Sean McPherson of The Message, and described Brother Jules’s legacy. “He would want people to know how much he loved music and how much he loved the community,” said Stage One. “People always gathered around him and were [drawn] to his energy. It wasn’t just the fact that he played good music, but he was a friendly person…he was a magnet for positive energy.” (Above, listen to the full interview.)
“He had a giant heart, he was open and welcoming, a beautiful soul,” wrote DJ Lenka Paris, who reminisced on Instagram about being mentored by Jules back when she was still wondering how Prince would ever know she existed. She would go on to be a Paisley Park regular alongside Jules.
“When you are passionate about what you do,” Jules told the promoter of one of his 2014 appearances, “you’ll never work a day in your life.”
“When you say ‘Brother Jules,’” KMOJ colleague Walter Banks, Jr. told KARE 11, “you can’t do nothing but smile.”