The Belleville Three: Founding Members of Detroit Techno

Origins of the Belleville Three

  • The Belleville Three consists of the members Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May. These three men are responsible for creating the techno genre in Belleville, Michigan, a small town outside out the detroit area in the 1980s.
  • Techno was the first instance in which technology was the backbone of the musical compositions.
    • The point of the genre was for listeners to dance to it for hours and hours.It was mostly played in dance clubs.
  • The social implications of their upbringing had a large influence on their music. Atkins, Saunderson and May were some of the only black students in their high school and thus, were motivated to create a new and innovative genre that included their cultural heritage.
    • In addition to this, their being three of the few black students in their high school allowed them to create a closer bond to one another both socially, musically and stylistically.
  • When the group first began, they operated under the name “Deep Space Soundwork.” Often performing at parties and in clubs.

The Height of Their Career in Techno

  • The Belleville Three found the majority of their success as a group in the United Kingdom, where American techno music was extremely popular.
  • Although still working together throughout most of their careers, the three men released a number of projects on their own.

Juan Atkins

      • One of the most influential techno artists, hailed out of Detroit.
      • He combined P-Funk with technology to create a very unique song out of the techno genre.
      • Maintained the roots of our culture in this new genre that was otherwise dominated by white artists.
      • Became very commercially successful, in some ways as a crossover artist.

Kevin Saunderson

      • Saunderson worked primarily as a DJ after taking a short break from music in college.
      • He still performs today throughout the United States and internationally, in France and other European countries.
      • One of his most popular songs is Good Life.

Derrick May

      • In the music world of today, Derrick May also goes by the names “Mayday” and “Rhythm is Rhythm.”
      • With regards to his solo career, Mays has worked primarily as a producer but he has remained within the realm of the techno genre since he first entered the music industry.
      • In addition to this, much of his success has been found internationally in different European countries, like Britain, where the techno genre is even more popular.

The Belleville Three Today


  • Surprisingly, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May did not begin to officially work together under the name, “The Belleville Three” until 2017. Although most people had been referring to the three collectively with this name since their inception in the 1980s, they did not officially claim the name for themselves until a few years ago.
  • All three members of the Belleville Three have created their own record labels.
  • The group still performs together and separately, one of their most recent performances was during the 2017 Coachella festival.


What's your password?

Login to your account

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.