Larry Levan

Real Name:
Lawrence Philpot
Profile:
American DJ and producer.
Born: 20 July 1954 in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NYC, NY.
Died: 8 November 1992 in Beth Israel Medical Center, Manhattan, NYC, NY (aged 38).

Levan 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.

Levan'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 (e.g. Stevie Nicks "Stand Back", and The Who "Eminence Front"), post-punk (e.g. The Clash "The Magnificent Seven", and many Talking Heads tracks), ambient/environmental music (e.g. Klaus Schulze and Manuel Gottsching) 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.

Cutting his musical teeth at The Loft; essentially the first underground after-hours disco, which was started by David Mancuso at the advent of the 1970s. The Loft combined psychedelic culture with proto-disco music, which then consisted of long-form, psychedelic-influenced soul (e.g. Booker T & The MG's "Melting Pot", The Temptations "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", et al.), jazz-funk (e.g. The Blackbyrds), funky rock (e.g. Barabas "Woman") and trippy head music like Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon". When club Paradise Garage opened in 1976, Levan added gospel and R&B-flavored disco to his musical menu.

After the Garage closed in 1987, Levan kept a considerably lower profile, doing guest spots at various clubs, including Studio 54, Palladium, and Mars, and DJ-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 Levan made it his home, casting his psychedelic spell on a diverse crowd of devoted Garage fans and various other after-hours types.

Levan was voluntarily hospitalized at Beth Israel Medical Center after returning to New York following a Japanese tour. Three days after being released into the care of his mother, he was re-hospitalized at Beth Israel with hemorrhoid symptoms. He died, aged 38, of heart failure caused by endocarditis at 18:15 EST, Sunday 8 November 1992.
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Artist

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Albums

IMA 2 Padlock (Special Mixes) — Larry Levan Larry Levan Featuring Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Gwen Guthrie, Wally Badarou, Darryl Thompson Larry Levan Featuring Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Gwen Guthrie, Wally Badarou, Darryl Thompson - Padlock (Special Mixes) (MiniAlbum) Garage Records IMA 2 UK 1985 Sell This Version
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Singles & EPs

DL-100 Classic Mixes Volume 1 — Larry Levan Larry Levan Classic Mixes Volume 1(2x12") Disco Legends DL-100 UK 2000 Sell This Version
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DL-102 Classic Mixes Volume 2 — Larry Levan Larry Levan Classic Mixes Volume 2 Disco Legends DL-102 UK 2001 Sell This Version
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KNG 265 Real Love — Larry Levan ManFriday* Feat. Larry Levan ManFriday* Feat. Larry Levan - Real Love Nite Grooves KNG 265 US 2007 Sell This Version
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UPSTAIR 002 Sunshower — Larry Levan Soichi Terada / Larry Levan Soichi Terada / Larry Levan - Sunshower(File, FLAC) H-Track UPSTAIR 002 2014
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Compilations

20-1018-1 Larry Levan's Paradise Garage — Larry Levan Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage (Comp) Salsoul Records 20-1018-1 US 1996 Sell This Version
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WES 2001-2 Larry Levan’s Classic West End Records Remixes Made Famous At The Legendary Paradise Garage — Larry Levan Larry Levan Larry Levan’s Classic West End Records Remixes Made Famous At The Legendary Paradise Garage (Comp) West End Records WES 2001-2 US 1999 Sell This Version
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TOCP-64302 Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 2 — Larry Levan 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
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TOCP-64326 Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 4 — Larry Levan Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 4 (Comp) Salsoul Records TOCP-64326 Japan 2003 Sell This Version
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TOCP-64301 Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 1 — Larry Levan 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
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TOCP-64303 Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 3 — Larry Levan Larry Levan Larry Levan's Paradise Garage - The Legend Of Dance Music Vol. 3 (Comp) Salsoul Records TOCP-64303 Japan 2003 Sell This Version
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SALSA CD 001 The Definitive Salsoul Mixes '78-'83 — Larry Levan Larry Levan The Definitive Salsoul Mixes '78-'83 (Comp) Suss'd Records, Salsoul Records SALSA CD 001 UK 2004 Sell This Version
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8122-70019-1 Journey Into Paradise (The Larry Levan Story) — Larry Levan Larry Levan Journey Into Paradise (The Larry Levan Story) (Comp) Rhino Records (2) 8122-70019-1 UK 2006 Sell This Version
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4720420, 00602547204202 Genius Of Time — Larry Levan Larry Levan Genius Of Time(12", Comp, Smplr) Island Records, Motown, A&M Records, Universal UMC 4720420, 00602547204202 Europe 2015 Sell This Version
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4743263 Genius Of Time — Larry Levan Larry Levan Genius Of Time (Comp) Universal Music Catalogue 4743263 Europe 2016 Sell This Version
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TLX-018 The Sleeping Bag Sessions — Larry Levan Larry Levan The Sleeping Bag Sessions (Comp) Sleeping Bag Records TLX-018 US 2017
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DJ Mixes

STRUTCD 006 Live At The Paradise Garage — Larry Levan Larry Levan Live At The Paradise Garage (Comp) Strut, Strut, West End Records, Garage Records STRUTCD 006 UK 2000 Sell This Version
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none Larry Is Still Alive — Larry Levan Larry Levan Larry Is Still Alive(CDr, Ltd, Mixed, Promo) Garage Records none 2004 Sell This Version
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MOSCD271 Live & Remastered (20th Anniversary) — Larry Levan Larry Levan / David Morales / Kenny Carpenter / Todd Terry / Justin Berkmann Larry Levan / David Morales / Kenny Carpenter / Todd Terry / Justin Berkmann - Live & Remastered (20th Anniversary) Ministry Of Sound MOSCD271 UK 2011 Sell This Version

Add Review

1

1

September 5, 2022
A wide ranging music lover that did so much for the scene. Not just a DJ and producer. Someone who actively went out of his way to make music happen & gave artists the encouragement to perform. Many big hits may not have been heard at all if it wasn't for this man. Legend status.
REENO

REENO

March 9, 2021
edited about 1 year ago
Being too young (and ignorant) at the time, The Garage passed me by without me ever having gone there or meeting Larry.
Living in a somewhat "upscale" area of Manhattan did not mean I wasn't exposed to a lot of the records that Larry was playing at the time, as there was a soul/disco record shop right down my block.

I can only read about the Garage and learn about it from those who experienced first hand. I live vicariously through these people, and am grateful for it.

I sure hope some ex Garage-heads band together and find some investors and produce a feature film about Larry, Mel Cheren, and The Garage. We have enough documentaries.

It's time for a dramatized depiction of this important and ground breaking bit of dance music history.
See 1 reply
downtown.music

downtown.music

May 9, 2005
edited over 18 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!
the_dude

the_dude

March 10, 2005
edited over 18 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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