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Teri Bristol, Chicago house music DJ, dies at 66

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CHICAGO (CBS) -- Renowned Chicago house music DJ and producer Teri Bristol has died, her family announced this week.

Bristol died Monday night at the age of 66, her family posted on social media. She had been suffering from kidney failure since 2020.

According to published reports, Bristol began DJing in Chicago in the 1980s, and paved the way for a generation of other women DJs. For more than a decade, she was music director at the old Crobar nightclub at 1543 N. Kingsbury St., where she co-ran the "Glee Club" LGBTQ+ night alongside Val Scheinpflug – also known as DJ Psycho-B***h.

2013 Wavefront Music Festival - Day 2
Teri Bristol and DJ Psycho-B***h perform during the 2013 Wavefront Music Festival at Montrose Beach on July 6, 2013. Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images

Bristol also DJ'd at the famous all-ages club Medusa's on Sheffield Avenue in Lakeview, Cairo on Wells Street in River North, and Smartbar on Clark Street in Wrigleyville, among other famous nightspots.

In an interview for the Chicago House Music Oral History Project in 2014, Bristol said she was born in Joliet – and spent part of her childhood in Tennessee before moving back with her family to southwest suburban Justice. As an adult, she moved into the city of Chicago.

Bristol told the project that as she came of age, she was a fan of 70s rock acts such as Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath – but was sold on disco when she listened to radio station WDAI. Bristol said eventually, she made her way to the old Chicago LGBTQ+ dance club Broadway Limited, at 3132 N. Broadway just south of Belmont Avenue, to experience disco DJs live in person.

Scheinpflug told Columbia College when she and Bristol first met, she was working as a waitress at a cocktail bar – but learned how to operate the sound system on her downtime. When the DJ there got fired, Bristol was pressed into service as a DJ, she told Columbia College.

Bristol told Columbia College in the interview that the name "Glee Club" for the Sunday night event at Crobar started out as an acronym of "Gay, Lesbian, Everyone's Equal." It became the longest-running LGBTQ+ night in a bar geared toward a straight clientele.

"We just turned it out every single week," she told Columbia College. "It was so incredible."

The website Electronic Groove noted that Bristol collaborated with legendary DJ Frankie Knuckles, and released her own records and mixes.

On social media, DJ Tracy Young called Bristol "a HUGE talent! She made me realize being a female DJ, producer and remixer was possible! She was a trail blazer for the generations following."

Bristol's family added on social media, "To know her was to know that the turntables were simply a conduit, a direct line, from her heart into each of ours."

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