Saturday, December 8, 2007

R.I.P. Mel Cheren (Paradise Garage / West End Records)

Very sad news with confirmed reports on the passing of Mel Cheren on December 7, 2007. Mel was an activist in the fight against AIDS and a music industry legend. He gave us the Paradise Garage (home of Larry Levan and some other great DJ's), West End Records, Colonial House, etc.

Mel Cheren passed away from AIDS complications. Having had health problems for several months, his HIV status was only confirmed last month, by which point it was evidently too late.


Bio on Mel Cheren

Pioneer. Activist. Survivor. Mel Cheren is The Godfather of Disco. Based on Mel Cheren’s powerful autobiography, My Life and the Paradise Garage: Keep On Dancin’, The Godfather of Disco is a documentary about the man who envisioned the future of disco, and then made it happen. Through a series of interviews with the who’s who of the dance community, the film follows the arc of Cheren’s life to examine the early ‘70s musical and cultural currents that gave birth to disco. From his launch of West End Records, to his seminal role in the creation Paradise Garage, one of the most influential clubs of all time, Cheren was a man on the scene.

From that cultural heyday, the film then charts the onslaught of HIV/AIDS, its impact on New York City, and Cheren’s heroic efforts in the face of an epidemic through his work for Gay Men’s Health Crisis and 24hrs for Life/LIFEbeat. He has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

The Godfather of Disco makes a compelling case for how one’s man’s musical vision and AIDS activism helped push gay sensibilities into the greater culture—and how our world is better for it.

Here's me and Mel at the Dance Music Hall Of Fame 2004 in NYC:

This video below was shot for Logo Channel/CBS two weeks after Mel Cheren found out that he was HIV+ while in a recent hospital stay for pneumonia. This video was released November 29, 2007, less than 2 weeks before his passing.

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