Larry Levan was the first superstar DJ. The first to really convince the world that there was more to DJing than just playing one record after another. For 10 years from 1977 to 1987, Levan was the star attraction at New York’s legendary Paradise Garage, writing himself into clubbing lore with swashbuckling DJ sets that took in minimal underground disco, funky rock, dub and synth-pop, which foreshadowed the house music revolution. At the same time, his uncanny ability to mix and tweak records for maximum emotional impact would regularly send his devoted congregation into raptures. Larry was like the Messiah. People would look up to the booth and scream his name. The first celebrity DJ. Larry controlled the mood of the place with the records he played – or the records he didn’t play. Larry had a little rock’n’roll in him and every once in a while, people in the club would hear it. He’d throw on Eminence Front by The Who, and that was cool. Nobody else was doing that – at the time. Larry had a good ear, he had appreciation for a lot of music that wasn’t just club music.
Levan helped open the Ministry of Sound in London in 1990 and toured Japan in 1992 with François Kevorkian. Seemingly aware that his time on Earth was short, Levan’s sets were emotional valedictories, even though he cobbled them together from records that weren’t his own. Two months after returning from the Japanese tour, Levan died in Harlem on November 8, 1992 at age 38 of heart failure resulting from endocarditis due to a long addiction to heroin.
Live @ The Paradise Garage 1979
Final Night @ Paradise Garage 1987
Live @ Sound Factory Bar, NYC 1991
Larry Levan: 1000 Paradise Garage Classics '78-80