‘A TRIBUTE TO LARRY LEVAN’
European Tour 2011
By way of some words Mr Johnny ‘Lasermagnetic’ Hiller and BBC Documentaries on the Paradise Garage
Larry Levan (born Lawrence Philpot, July 20, 1954 – November 8, 1992), best known for his decade-long residency at the New York City night club Paradise Garage, which has been described as the prototype of the modern dance club developed a cult following who referred to his sets as “Saturday Mass”. Influential US DJ François Kevorkian credits Levan with introducing the dub aesthetic into dance music. Along with Kevorkian, Levan experimented with drum machines and synthesizers in his productions and live sets, ushering in an electronic, post-disco sound that presaged the ascendence of house music.
“Through my involvement in Lasermagnetic, one of London’s longest standing disco party residents & promoters, I have had the pleasure to get to know many of the first generation disco DJs with whom I build a working relationship & friendships over the years. Especially some of the older US DJs, they always had great music history, knowledge, and more than a few funny stories to share. Through those connections I was introduced to Lenny Fontana, who is currently working on finishing a Paradise Garage related documentary with Eddie Gordon (UK radio personality, brains behind The Essential Mix & former West End Records Manager) for BBC Radio 1 & 6.
It originally transpired that Lenny had a 5 hr recording of the 2nd anniversary at the Garage from 79, which was originally broadcast live during the Garage’s 2nd birthday in 1979 in New Yok DJ in his possession.
The recording features Larry mixing it up, plus live performances by Loleatta Holloway, Dan Hartman (relight my fire) & Sylvester (you make me feel mighty real) fame.
A conversation about the reel to reel – 32 years after it was originally recorded – came up during a dinner Lenny & Eddie attended and soon after that the recording was presented to BBC Executives who described it as ‘Radio Gold Dust’.
Following this, the documentary ‘ Legends of the Dancefloor: A Piece of Paradise’ about the Larry Levan’s life as a DJ & producer and the culture around the legendary Paradise Garage night club was commissioned by the BBC and the program will be broadcast over 6 consecutive days between the 18-23rd July. The documentary itself gives an amazingly detailed account of those exciting and heady nights… during the height of the disco era, through the musical changes of the 80’s and the arrival of house music. Lenny & Eddie have interviewed everyone from Yoko Ono, DJ Harvey, Disco producers John Morales, Tom Moulton, DJ’s Frankie Knuckles, Victor Rosado, Justin Berkman, and recording artists Peech Boys and many more.
On the 23rd of July, Lenny Fontana will present the Essential Mix on BBC Radio1, showcasing classic house music tracks that took their inspiration from disco.
On the back of this, together with my close friend and another firm fixture in London’s disco scene DJ Alex from the Voices Collective we have created a tour entitled ‘ A TRIBUTE TO LARRY LEVAN’ for our friends from across the pond. DJ Alex is also a fantastic DJ’s who through many trips to NYC and friendships with NYC DJs like Victor have led him to become one of a hand full of Djs here in the UK being able to play a deliver the Garage sound aesthetic.
DJ Alex & myself (Johnny Hiller), the UK Tour DJs will be play during the early part of the evening at gigs in London & Berlin. This is the first ever LL/PG related tour since Larry passed away in 1992.
Victor Rosado is the closest you’ll get to Larry’s programming and mixing style where you hear a message in the music, and songs connect to one another. Pure dance floor poetry!
The NYC disco mixing style typically tells a story through songs that connect to one another in their message, mood or harmony all beautifully blended together on a rotary mixer (Bozak or Urei).
Mixing on vintage rotary mixers is art form in itself and achieved by our tour DJs with over several decades of working at some of world’s most legendary clubs.
On the Tribute tour, expect the authentic PG play list, from Disco classics, private edits, afro beat, new wave oddities, proto and early 80s house. The idea is to recreate the spirit of the Garage for one night in the respective locations, it will be nice for the younger generations to sample a piece of music history, and a style of playing music that set a benchmark for the flocks of DJ’s that followed not forgetting that so much of this music still sounds current, fresh and as exciting. Many producers continue to embrace the sounds disco & house and vinyl releases continue to live on…”
You can catch Lenny Fontana & Victor Rosado, DJ Alex (Voices) & Johnny Hiller (Lasermagnetic):
23rd July in Dublin@ Crawdaddy
28th July in Oslo@ Jaeger
30th July in London@ Fabric
4th Aug in Berlin@ Cookies
6th Aug in Manchester@ Soup Kitchen
+ further EU/Japan dates tba
‘LEGENDS OF THE DANCEFLOOR: A PIECE OF PARADISE’, a 5 hr documentary broadcast on Radio 6 18TH-23RD JULY, + BBC Radio1 Essential Mix on 23rd July with Lenny Fontana.
Check them on iPlayer here
Legends Of The Dancefloor “A Piece Of Paradise” – Reflections from New York’s highest table
Interviews with Michael Linder, Vince Aletti, Nicky Siano, Judy Weinstein, the Queen of dance music and Tom Moulton. Five voices from the mount who saw the beginning from the floor up, created change and rode with the wave through the disco daze past the Millennium. Gritty view of life in a Big Apple bruised with the recession, the Stonewall Riots, the Hard Hat Riots, on the verge of bankruptcy, crime and grime rule the subway from 42nd Street to downtown – but there’s a beat, created by Earl Young of The Trammps, a soulfully sexual, funky, grooving, dance music loving mass of human happiness. The pinnacle of which was the Paradise Garage, situated on the aptly named King Street, a huge parking lot of a building turned into a club for over 3’000 dancers with the world’s greatest club sound system, an owner creating a dream of unifying people with dance music and a DJ gifted with an intuitive grasp on the sense of love in the songs he played through the loudest collection of speakers known that could turn his dance floor fanatics, gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, asian, male and women, into a collective loving mush, like a hypnotist working the congregation from the church pulpit. the world’s first ever record pool, the New York Record Pool with DJ David Mancuso from Mancuso’s home club christened The Loft by its devotees.
If Knighthoods for services to dance music existed, Moulton would be knighted for the changes he caused with his work, mixing some of the biggest dance records ever made like MFSB’s “Love Is The Message” The Trammps “Disco Inferno” First Choice’s “Doctor Love” plus many many more, Tom was also the originator of the 12″ single disc, he was the first dance music writer for Billboard magazine in the US. Tom’s interview from the park outside his Upper Manhattan apartment reveals his memory to be lucid and his character to be one of spontaneous, mischievous laughter.
Legends Of The Dancefloor “A Piece Of Paradise”
Nine interviews from the movers and shakers of Manhattan during those halcyon days from the 70′s through to today
Danny ‘Pooch’ Pucchiarelli the first ever DJ to travel from New York and play the UK where the DJs were still talking in-between playing records and were blown away by “Pooch’s” ability to mix the records together.
Danny gives a personal view of why Larry Levan was the best DJ in the world and why the Paradise Garage was the best club he ever went to.
Curtis Stevens – A young Afro-American writer who has just completed over 200 interviews on the life and times of the best radio DJ to be on air in the USA – Frankie Crocker from his WBLS days in New York City,The life and times of the best radio DJ to be on air in the USA – Frankie Crocker from his WBLS days in New York City, the book entitled Frankie Crocker The Chief Rocker details the relationship between Frankie Crocker and Paradise DJ Larry Levan, how Frankie would go to the Garage hear Larry play a big song then immediately put on on ‘air’ across New York the next days which would send people flying to the record stores. Between Levan and Crocker they helped sell millions of records. Diane ‘Foxy’ Strafaci – Manhattan fashion creator who found the Garage after a bad night at Studio 54 then went religiously every weekend to advice DJ Larry Levan on his clothes and WBLS Frankie Crocker on what records were exploding on the Garage dancefloor. “Foxy’ talks candidly about her relationship with both men in their prime and what is was like for a young well-heeled lady to fall in love with a big dirty nightclub.
John Morales – a remixer of world renown as M+M with Sergio Munzibai, who broke into the industry by mistake takes us through the beginnings of the New York City’s thirst for special remixes of popular songs so the club DJ’s could play extended versions including one his biggest remixes of Inner Life’s “Caught Up In A One Night Love Affair” plus the studio times with Larry Levan who became one the first superstar remixers himself.
a close perspective of Larry from two of his co-DJ’s and the artist who’s record Levan remixed to success.
Legends Of The Dancefloor “A Piece Of Paradise” (20th July) 57th Heaven – Larry Levan’s Birthday
Larry would have turned 57 years old today. DJ Victor Rosado – A New York DJ who played at the Garage many times and toured the world with Larry right up to his passing tells of how he met Larry, the character and the sad times as Levan’s career came down with the closing of the Paradise Garage in 1987. Taana Gardner – From Westfield, New Jersey, her first release for West End Records was “Heartbeat”. Taana also recorded other sings with Levan including “Work That Body”. Tonight she speaks fondly of Larry plus the experience of walking, scared, onto the Paradise Garage stage for the first time to sing “Heartbeat” to the capacity crowd. DJ David Depino – Depino was one of the main DJ’s in the Paradise Garage, here he speaks of his relationship with Larry in a glorious reflective manner, rich in New York colloquialisms, tales of the two of them fighting over records, how amazing working in the club was an some of the nights including the very night of the 2nd Anniversary in 1979, a four hour mix of which we will broadcast on Saturday night from 10pm and as yet unheard by the world since that night in ’79 in New York. Depino will share the incredible live performance of Loleatta Holloway and Dan Hartman singing “Relight My Fire” live that night as well as the work he still does today in 2011 to keep Larry’s memory alive.
Legends Of The Dancefloor “A Piece Of Paradise” 3500 miles from Paradise.
The English adMinistered Paul Oakenfold, DJ’s Harvey, Heidi and Justin Berkman inspired by Larry. In his interview Paul ‘Oaky’ tells very clearly how his trip to New York City in the 80′s totally changed his life, inspiring his choices and decisions from that moment onwards, including his resident DJ terms at UK club brands Cream and The Ministry of Sound. Harvey & Heidi..Levan playing at their club night Moist, staying at their home and how he blew them away when he played the opening night at London’s Ministry Of Sound after re-tuning the sound system. This was the last trip Larry made to the UK before he passed. DJ Justin Berkman – The founding, originating brain of The Ministry Of Sound club in London tells how as a 23 year old he is on his way around the world when he stops briefly in Manhattan but never leaves because he has found religion – The Paradise Garage. rave scene exploding in the fields then decided that London needed a version of the Paradise Garage, so he set about finding investment, found a venue (the same building the MOS is still today) and pulled everything together to replace the hole in his life by creating one of the biggest known clubs in the world today. Justin’s interview is stunningly lucid from beginning to the end. Respect is due to JB.
Legends Of The Dancefloor “A Piece Of Paradise” Thank Larry Its Friday
Manny Lehmann – From behind the counter at New York’s famous Greenwich Village record store Vinyl Mania Manny introduced new records to the city’s best DJs including have a very special relationship with DJ Larry Levan who used to come in to the store every Friday to see the other DJs plus see what records Manny has set by for him. Michael Debenedictus – Michael once famously turned down the chance to be Madonna’s keyboard player when she was putting her band together in New York just before she hit major big time, being happy as Larry Levan’s studio partner on all his remixes plus a member of the Peech Boys, Debenedictus felt he was were he needed to be, making great records with Levan. In his interview Michael talks about his times with Larry and how hands on Larry was in the studio, especially when it came to editing the tape using a razor. Rochelle Flemming Here she talks about the impact the Paradise Garage and DJ Larry Levan had on the career of First Choice, that the stage at the Garage was “home” and the 3000 people on the floor were “family”.
SATURDAY – PLAYBACK OF RECORDING FIRST TIME AFTER 32 YEARS
Frankie Crocker live commentary, Larry Levan in the mix, Loleatte Holloway, Dan Hartman & Sylvester live performances
Exclusive interview coming next week with a legend…!