He was born Byron Walton on Chicago's south side, and early on differed from the majority of future house producers by gaining inspiration from a novel group of artists: David Bowie
, Depeche Mode
, and Human League
instead of the almost requisite mixture of Parliament
and obscure disco. He played drums and clarinet as part of a band while attending church, and decided to try making music on his own by 1980. With a synthesizer and his own live drum accompaniment, Principle began writing songs and later bought a four-track recorder to set them down on tape. A mutual friend, José Gomez, introduced his recordings to the don of Chicago DJs, Frankie Knuckles
, and Knuckles
began dropping Principle songs -- still on reel-to-reel tape -- into his sets at the Warehouse.
One of the tracks, "Your Love," became a huge hit at the clubs and on the Hot Mix 5's radio show. Finally, in 1985, two years after house music had debuted on wax, "Your Love" was released on Trax Records.
Another previously unreleased gem, "Waiting on My Angel," was released on Person Records one year later. According to reliable rumor, Knuckles
attempted to sell an unreleased Principle single to both of the two major Chicago house labels, Trax
and DJ International
, at the same time and without his permission; soon, Principle had distanced himself from the producer, and released the dis record "Knucklehead" in response.
The B-side of "Your Love" on its Trax
issue was "Baby Wants to Ride," a piece of X-rated funk which made clear Principle's allegiance to Prince
. The ffrr
label licensed the single in 1988 and it became a major international club hit. Principle hit the Americans with two singles for Atlantic
("Cold World" and "Date with the Rain," produced with Steve "Silk" Hurley
) but then signed to the Smash
subsidiary of PolyGram. The singles from his 1991 album Midnite Hour did moderately well in clubs but Principle's increasingly pop-slanted productions alienated club-goers and simultaneously failed to cross over into pop markets. He continued producing, and appeared on Jesse Saunders'
Chicago Reunion album in 1993. ~ John Bush, Rovi