Larry Levan

Larry Levan

Real Name:
Lawrence Philpot
US-American DJ and producer.
Born July 20, 1954 in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, New York - Died November 8, 1992 of heart failure at a mere 38 years old.

Larry is revered primarily as the DJ and driving force of the famous gay-friendly disco Paradise Garage. With engineer Richard Long, he custom-designed the Garage's sound system and DJ booth, complete with audiophile Thorens turntables.
Larry's brilliance lay not only in his technical skill and audio expertise, but also in his eclectic taste. He broadened the 'rules' of what dance music could be, mixing everything from gospel, reggae, Philly soul and Euro-disco to rock ("Stand Back"/Stevie Nicks and "Eminence Front"/The Who, to name but two), post-punk ("The Magnificent Seven"/The Clash, and Talking Heads), ambient/environmental music (Klaus Schulze and Manuel Gottsching, for example) and just about everything else.
He augmented his sets with disorienting sound effects and audio manipulations, working the crossover and balance controls to throw sound around the room as if it had a will of its own.

Larry cut his musical teeth at The Loft, essentially the first underground, afterhours disco. Started by David Mancuso at the advent of the '70s, The Loft combined psychedelic culture with proto-disco music, which then consisted of longform, psychedelic-influenced soul ("Melting Pot"/Booker T. & The MG's, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"/The Temptations, etc.), jazz-funk like The Blackbyrds, funky rock ("Woman"/Barabas, for example) and trippy head music like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon." When "Paradise Garage" opened in 1976, Larry added gospel-and R&B-flavored disco to his musical menu.

After the Garage closed in 1987, Larry kept a considerably lower profile, doing guest spots at various clubs, including "Studio 54," "Palladium" and "Mars," and D.J.-ing regularly at "The Choice," arguably the inheritor of the Garage's underground legacy. "The Choice" didn't have the grandeur of the Garage, but Larry made it his home, casting his psychedelic spell on a diverse crowd of devoted Garage fans and various other afterhours types.
In Groups:

Larry Levan Discography

Singles & EPs

ManFriday* Feat. Larry Levan ManFriday* Feat. Larry Levan - Real Love Nite Grooves US 2007 Sell This Version
4720420, 00602547204202 Larry Levan Genius Of Time(12", Smplr) Island Records, Motown, A&M Records, Universal UMC 4720420, 00602547204202 Europe 2015 Sell This Version


Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage (Comp) Salsoul Records US 1996 Sell This Version
Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage (Comp) West End Records US 1999 Sell This Version
TOCP-64301 Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 1(CD, Comp) Salsoul Records TOCP-64301 Japan 2003 Sell This Version
TOCP-64302 Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 2(CD, Comp) Salsoul Records TOCP-64302 Japan 2003 Sell This Version
Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 4 (Comp) Salsoul Records Japan 2003 Sell This Version
Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 3 (Comp) Salsoul Records Japan 2003 Sell This Version
Larry Levan The Definitive Salsoul Mixes '78-'83 (Comp) Suss'd Records UK 2004 Sell This Version
Larry Levan Genius Of Time (Comp) Universal Music Catalogue Europe 2016 Sell This Version

DJ Mixes

Larry Levan Live At The Paradise Garage (Comp) Strut UK 2000 Sell This Version
Larry Levan Live At The Legendary Paradise Garage (Comp) Garage Records, Garage Records, Garage Records US 2003 Sell This Version
MOSCD271 Larry Levan / David Morales / Kenny Carpenter / Todd Terry / Justin Berkmann Larry Levan / David Morales / Kenny Carpenter / Todd Terry / Justin Berkmann - Live & Remastered (20th Anniversary)(5xCD, Mixed + Box, Ltd) Ministry Of Sound MOSCD271 UK 2011 Sell This Version

Reviews Show All 2 Reviews

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May 9, 2005
edited over 11 years ago
There's not much that can be said that hasn't been said already in dozens of articles, reviews and tribute websites, but I'm compelled to add my two cents. I first heard about the Paradise Garage from an article in NYC's defunct "SOHO Weekly News", and I was fascinated. The very well written review was published sometime in 1979 or `80, and my interest was piqued, as my world consisted of clubs, parties and venues that thrived on the anti-disco backlash. My willingness to examine my own irrational prejudice against "Disco" occured one night at The Mudd Club, a cutting-edge post-punk dance club with a sound-system designed by Bryan Eno and a punky-artsy clientele that probably prided itself in never having set foot in a "real" discotheque. I counted myself among that herd until I heard a real Disco DJ upstairs, guesting on the second floor, and my eyes were opened wide and my jaw dropped when I watched and listened to this guy seamlessly blending hot Salsoul, West End and Prelude records. Of course the music was amazing and had nothing in common with my media-inspired, brainwashed aversion to so-called Disco music. I was mesmerized and made it my business to get into the Garage come hell or high-water. I had started DJing in the East Village by then and Bobby Shaw, then the promoter for Warner Brothers records, got me on the guest-list and I finally arrived at Disco Nirvana. But even then, Larry opened my mind and challenged my pre-conceived notions of what he was about. In the course of the night I heard Kraftwerk, The Peach Boys, Yaz, Konk, Mikki, The Temptations, Men At Work, D-Train, and the list of ecclectic twists and turns was mind-blowing to say the least..and that sound system. The best I'd ever heard, albeit too loud for my already sensitive ears. I was a regular there until it closed, and due to Larry's reputation as a moody and unpredictable soul with a slightly self-destuctive bent (like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, to name a few), I kept my distance from his inner circle and insisted on paying my yearly membership fee as well as the modest admission price. I never regretted my decision, and only after the Garage closed did I become friendly with the now more accessible and down-to-earth Larry Levan. I feel blessed to have had him share his knowledge and stories with me, and not a day passes when I don't think about the man or listen to one of his totally unique, trippy and dub-inspired remixes. Literally NO DJ can ever achieve his impact on my life or come close to his skills at sonic reconstruction and open-minded, genius programming. He was a genuine 20th century SHAMAN. I Love you and miss you Larry!


March 10, 2005
edited over 12 years ago
What can be said about this man? Whatever is said, it is not enough! Not only was he a musical pioneer whose influence still resonates in every area of dance music today, he also brought together formerly disperate communities from the most diverse city on Earth. He will be missed and remembered as a DJ for the people and for the DJ of future generations. R.I.P.

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