This is....

D.C. LaRue

D.C. LaRue

D.C. LaRue grew up in Connecticut, but after high school and two years in Art school,
D.C. moved to the Big Apple and became a successful album sleeve graphic designer.
Through his work with album covers he would become friends with the guy who would be able to turn his musical ideas onto tape and vinyl.
Their cooperation paid off right away and "Cathedrals" became an instant hit.
After that he actually, unintentionally, created the first Hip Hop break.
Read ahead about this multi-talented artist who with his music just wants to;

"Let Them Dance"

David Charles L'Heureux was born April 26, 1948 in Meriden, Connecticut, U.S.A.
D.C. LaRue You were born David Charles L'Heureux. How did you get the stage name LaRue? Was it some kind of misspelling of your last name?
"L'Heureux is a French surname. It's a very old fashioned French word for 'happy' and it's almost impossible to pronounce unless you are fluent in speaking the French language. I really can't remember a time in my life when it wasn't 'Anglo-sized' into LaRue. Even my Dad and his family who spoke French as their first language would pronounced it "LaRue" because it made things easier for everyone all around. It only made sense that it should be spelled and pronounced that way for what would be considered my stage name."
What do your friends call you?
"It all depends on when they entered my life! Anyone who knew me prior to my first D.C. LaRue recording, 'Move In Closer' on Claridge Records in 1975/76, will call me David. It seems that they feel if they've known me that many years they have a right to call me by my given name... although I 'really' do prefer D.C. at this point in time. Anyone who met me after the Claridge release calls me 'D.C.' or 'Dee'."

When did you start sing and write music?
D.C. LaRue "I can't remember a time in my life, prior to about 1985, that I wasn't constantly singing or writing music. It was a natural thing... songs just bubbled up from inside me. I grew up with a piano in the living room and a mother who would play all the 1950's pop hits to entertain herself. Remember... there was a time before Television when you had to provide your own entertainment. Our family didn't get a TV set until 1959. There were a lot of years spent listening to Mom playing the piano.
As soon as I was big enough to sit on the piano bench I was writing songs and singing. Although I never did learn how to read or write music... I always played by 'ear' and started singing into a tape recorder when I began saving my compositions.
But after 1985 the music writing 'muse' just disappeared and never returned. I haven't written anything since then and have never had the desire to do so. Well, there's one exception - 'Edge Of The Night'... a track that I co-wrote and performed with my late friend DJ/writer/producer Adam Goldstone. It was in 2001 for his CD Lower East Side Stories which was released in the UK on Nuphonic Records. I didn't want to write or record again but he insisted and he didn't let up until I agreed. But I'm not unhappy that I did. It makes me feel good to know we were able to collaborate on a recording before he passed.
I still sing and on occasion still perform. Every once in a while I'll do a special performance for an old friend... like legendary disco DJ Nicky Siano. Over the years he has been known to call me to perform at one of his birthday parties or club openings or something like that. I flew to Miami last year to perform at a friend's anniversary party at a popular disco down there off Collins Avenue. I have to admit that I still enjoy performing. Maybe I'll start looking for an agent and get active again. There seems to be a big re-interest in my old tracks! We'll see what happens."

Yes, I think you really should do that. There is a huge renewed interest for Disco out there these days, much because of all the sampling and DJ's looking back to the great dance music of the 70's and 80's. So, I think many people would love to see and hear you perform again. Talking about hearing you, what would you say characterizes your voice?
Grace Jones and D.C. "Grace Jones and I had a conversation regarding this very subject over dinner in 1977. We both had achieved quite a bit of success and the reviews of our work had stated coming in. We both seemed to be in the same boat... so to speak. Critics never thought much of her voice and the same went for me. We both came to the same conclusion. We weren't so much 'great singers' but 'song stylists'. And there really is a difference!
Frank Sinatra is a great singer... Billie Holiday is a great song stylist.
But this is how I would characterize my voice: I'm a song stylist with a distinctive, expressive, breathy, talkie baritone. How's that?"

That's just a great explanation, couldn't have said it better myself.
From one 'song stylist' to another - Grace Jones actually recorded and had a Top 30 Billboard Disco Chart hit in 1979 with one of D.C's compositions; "On Your Knees". The track was produced and arranged by two Disco legends; Tom Moulton was the producer while Thor Bauldursson was arranging the song.
Grace was not the only singer to record D.C.'s material. In 1982 Monica Neal recorded "Beggin' For More" for SAM Records.

You actually started out as an album sleeve graphic designer. When did you start doing that and do you have any favorite covers you have done? How did you do them, did you draw/paint the covers or did you take photos?
Janis Ian - Aftertones "Shortly after high school I attended a two year art school in New Haven, Connecticut. As soon as I finished with that I moved to New York City and started working right away in the music business. That was in the early 1970s. I designed sheet music covers, song folios, album covers, trade ads for Billboard, Cashbox and Record World Magazines and whatever. Not very much drawing or painting or photographing. Mainly doing layout and graphic design as well as type treatment stuff working with supplied photographs, etc.
My favorite album cover has turned out to be Janis Ian's AFTERTONES, a recording released on Columbia Records back in 1975. And that because of a couple of things...
I feel it holds up on a lot of different creative levels after all these years. It could have been designed yesterday. And it has avery interesting "surrealistic" quality about it I still like a lot."

Were you working freelance as a graphic designer or were you contracted by any specific label?
"I would always work as a freelancer. There were periods of time when I would be doing what was considered 'steady freelance' for one particular company or another, but I was never a salaried employee. I always need a sense of freedom to remain happy."
Haha! Yes, I understand. Could you design the covers completely freely, or where there someone else creating the concept of what the cover should look like or what kind of "elements" they wanted in it?
"When I was designing for someone else other than myself it would be all their call. I would listen to them and what they expected out of me and I would then present them with several graphic choices or directions and then they would lead the way. The final decision on what their album would look like would be entirely up to them and their record company."
Does this mean you designed all your own album covers yourself?
Ca-The-Drals album "Yes. I would write the songs, work out the arrangements & productions, choose the photographer, develop the cover concept, so it would represent the content of the album, and help with or actually do the graphic design treatment... although I only took an actual design credit for CATHEDRALS.
I always had complete creative control over my recordings. The whole package from concept to execution. Needless to say on occasion I would be working with the art directors/creative people at the labels, specially at Casablanca Records, but I always would begin by giving them a direction and I had the absolute final say on how everything looked. Design credits where listed as such because of the label politics.
For example if Phyllis Chotin or Gribbit! or Chris Warf were involved with the development and execution of my concept & design, their name would be listed on the album because it was a part of their agreement as an employee of the record company.
So, I was responsible for the total concept and package of each recording. Everything was inspired, developed, executed and/or directed by me. I always say that with each album I gave away a little piece of my soul."

I guess many recording artists give a little bit of their soul to a recording, that's probably what makes some records stand out more than others. And I can understand that you must have given even more when you were literally involved in so many parts of the production, from song writing to the appearance of the final product. That's really amazing!

the Back side of the Ca-The-Drals cover

Let's get back to the Ca-the-drals album, on the back of the cover you are photographed outside various entrances. Do you recall if those were special locations that you wanted to point out for the recording's cover or was it just random locations?
"They were not random... that's for sure!! And this is a great question because after all these years you are only the second interview that has bothered to inquire what those door ways were about. In 1975/76 they were the door ways to what were considered the three most important discos in New York City.
The top photo is the entrance to Flamingo, which was located at the corner of Houston Street & Broadway, NYC. Flamingo was the cutting edge NYC gay disco in 1975/76. Members only... and very high profile. The most important gays in the city were members and the DJs were very important in introducing new dance music to that crowd. All the Disco promotion people from the record companies simply had to get their new dance releases played at Flamingo!
The middle photo is the entrance to Infinity. A club that was located at 653 Broadway, NYC. Infinity was the most important 'straight' Disco in NYC during that 1975/76 period. It may have been a 'members only' club, I don't really remember, but the door person would let you in as long as you were hot. It got the most beautiful young men and women from the tri-state area. From Wall Street brokers and socialites to gas station attendants and sales clerks... it didn't matter. As long as you were gorgeous you got in to party. And what a party... WOW!!! Some of the best nights of my life were spent at Infinity.
The bottom photo is the entrance to the 12 West Disco. A 'funky/street wise' gay club that was located at West 12th Street and West Street off West Side Highway, NYC on the Hudson River. Hot bodies, baseball caps, Levi's and boots... that kind of crowd. Definitely 'top three' club material. And in 1975/76 it was definitely the most important club in the city when it came to introducing new dance music to the NYC gay crowd. If the track was a success on the dance floor at 12 West you knew you had a big hit on your hands.
And thank you for 'finally' asking."

Thank you for sharing. Because I have wondered as I thought it must have been some special entrances and that you wanted to send some kind of 'message' using photo's of three different doors instead of any 'street photos'. I'm also a bit surprised to only be the second one asking about it in these 30+ years.
D.C. was an avid Club goer during this time and he was out dancing and partying almost every night. Besides the above Clubs, he also used to frequent Clubs like; Hollywood, Limelight, Nicky Siano's Gallery, Studio 54, the 10th Floor, Le Jardin and the Loft at 99 Prince Street.
He also loved the Paradise Garage where DJ Larry Levan always treated him special. Larry who loved D.C.'s "Cathedrals" would often mix two copies of the 12" single back and forth for up to an hour!
Any of the Disco era DJ's you specially recall or care to talk about?
D.C. LaRue and Richie Kaczor of Studio 54 "I don't know where to start with this question and I'm a little afraid of inadvertently leaving someone out. The guys I would immediately recall as friends were guys like Nicky Siano, Bobby 'DJ' Guttadaro, Tom Savarese, Richie Kaczor, Jim Burgess, Tee Scott, David Mancuso and Larry Levan. The ones that were playing the New York City clubs at the time.
The Pyramid Records New York City Disco promotion man Steve D'Acquisto started taking me around to the clubs to promote both 'Move In Closer' and 'Cathedrals'. It just happened that I really got along with these guys and we had a lot more in common than just what record they were playing. Ends up that we began spending a lot of time together... hanging out or having dinner or whatever. But now, with the exception of Nicky Siano, I haven't seen any of these Club people in decades.
Anyway... there were a lot of great DJ's out there in the 70s and although I didn't get to actually socialize with a lot of them, when I was in their company I had some really wonderful times. If I went clubbing after 'Cathedrals' you would definitely find me in the corner of the Disco's DJ booth at any given point in the evening if I knew the DJ. But it's been at least 25 years since I've seen any of these guys. I've completely lost touch with all of them."

Cathedrals 12-inch

Was "Cathedrals" the first song you recorded and released, or had you recorded some of your material prior to that?
"I had been knocking around the music business for several years before I recorded 'Cathedrals' and I had recorded a number of other songs with other record labels and producers prior to 1976. At one point I was signed to Kirshner Records for a couple of years and recorded four of my songs under the name of David LaRue. A pop single was released in 1974 from that agreement. It was available in the 7" 45 rpm vinyl format that was popular at the time and was titled 'Honey Bear (The Good Time's Right Here)' backed with 'Better Get Back'. Shortly after that I recorded my first track performing as D.C. LaRue for Claridge Records in 1975. The recording was titled 'Move In Closer' b/w 'Temptation' and it was released in both the 7" 45 rpm and 12" Disco vinyl formats."
"Cathedrals" has a very special groove which is kind of the signature of the song. It's just awesome! How did you come up with it?
D.C. LaRue in the Cathedral "I co-produced the 'Cathedrals' recording with musician/arranger/producer Aram Schefrin and we pretty much had a standard way of working together. We would get together with his guitar and my piano and I would play him the song I wanted to work on. I would fill him in as much as possible as to how I was thinking and how I would like the recording to sound. Then we would bounce around different ideas on the piano and guitar until we came up with a groove we both felt would work.
I can take all the credit for the 'Cathedrals' lyrics and music. I felt it was a great chance for me to get real honest about the promiscuity of the 'Disco' seventies and how I felt about what was happening.
I think the 'special groove' you are referring to, is that spectacular guitar riff that you hear through out the recording. Well, that 'Cathedrals' riff/groove is all Aram. And it is Brilliant! He came up with that groove all by himself and he also played it on the recording. The bass line reflects a little of both of us. We used to play around with different bass lines on the piano until we came up with something we both liked."

Why the dividing of the album title Ca-the-drals into syllables? Was it some kind of intentional word play or simply a design element?
D.C. "It was simply a design element. I thought it looked real hot. A little like graffiti on the brushed stainless steel of the telephone booth door. By the way... that's where I am standing in the photo... inside a telephone booth that was located on the corner of West 12th Street and West Street in the West Village, NYC. It was a Sunday morning... after I had been out all night clubbing. I met up with the photographer, Peter Cunningham, late in the morning. I had gotten friendly with Peter when we were both hired to work on folk/rock legend Janis Ian's album cover project AFTERTONES. Peter and I are still friendly to this day. He lives with his wife around the corner from me. He's a great photographer."

Ca-the-drals LP

As mentioned earlier, D.C.'s Ca-the-drals album was released in 1976 on Pyramid Records. The album include the songs; "I Don't Want To Lose You" which is a 14 minutes track covering the full A-side of the LP. On the B-side you'll find "I'll Still Be Here For You", followed by his Top Hit "Cathedrals" and "Deep, Dark, Delicious Night".
The whole album peaked at # 6 in the Billboard Disco Charts in 1976. It wasn't often a full LP entered the Billboard Disco Charts, mostly it was only the 12" single for one song. So getting the full album on there was quite something extra, something D.C. managed to do with all his four first albums.
D.C.'s 12" version of "Cathedrals" topped the Club Play charts and was also a huge hit in many other countries around the Globe and LaRue was even the first white male to top the R&B/Soul charts in the UK.

Aram Schefrin produced your first two albums and your last one. Aram was one of the leaders and members of the 70s horn/rock band Ten Wheel Drive along with Michael Zager. Michael was to become an important Disco arranger/producer/artist in his own right with his Michael Zager Band and the hit "Let's All Chant". I know Michael played organ/keyboards on the Ca-the-drals album. Did he work on any of your other albums?
"No... that's it. Just CATHEDRALS. After 'I Don't Want To Loose You' the 'Disco bug' bit him and off he went to do his own thing. I'm happy that he was so successful, but Michael and I were never close. He was Aram's friend and after working with us on CATHEDRALS we were never in touch except for running into each other at Studio 54 or whatever. From what I understand he's a pretty nice guy."
Yes, Michael Zager is a really nice guy. I interviewed him for my site a few years back. So what about his friend, Aram Schefrin, have you got any more comments on him?
"As I have stated previously CATHEDRALS was far from my first try at composing, performing and producing. I have always felt that hooking up with a producer/arranger like Aram Schefrin was most important. I actually met Aram when Polydor Records hired me as an art director/graphic designer to design the album cover for his Ten Wheel Drive album PECULIAR FRIENDS. We became friends right away and when it came to choosing a producer/arranger to work with me on CATHEDRALS I reached out to him first.
None of it would have happened without Aram. He was the one who finally understood what I wanted to accomplish and he possessed the magic of being able to translate all my musical ideas into actual recordings. As I have already mentioned I can't read or write music and it had always left me at a disadvantage when working with other musicians. In 1976 my recordings were finally starting to sound exactly like I was hearing them in my head and it was mostly because of Aram."

The Tea Dance album

Based on the success of Ca-the-drals, D.C. and Aram was sent right back into the studio and completed the work on D.C.'s second album - The Tea Dance which was released in 1977. If his first album did well in the charts, well, then the Tea Dance topped that and again the full album entered the Billboard Disco Charts and peaked at # 2.
The album pass through time and various styles of music and DJ's hooked on to the concept and different DJ's found their favorite tracks off the albums cuts. The song "Face Of Love" was the 12" single release and it was flipped by a special remix of "Indiscreet" [more on this below].
The Tea Dance also included a duet with Lou Christie who was a legendary 60s Rock and Pop star. On background vocals you can also hear the voice of soon to become Prelude Records diva Sharon Redd.

Who came up with the 'consummate dance album' concept for your The Tea Dance recording? It's like a time machine passing through the different genres of music that existed over the years. It encompasses not only Disco but many various styles of dance music.
"That was all my idea. It was inspired by the soundtrack album from the MGM film That's Entertainment.
I was given a copy of the recording when the film was released in 1974 and for some reason I started playing it at home over and over again. After listening to it countless times it struck me that what I was actually listening to was simply a bunch of timeless dance tracks that were first introduced to the public via the motion picture. And I loved the way it just all fell together as a dance concept album... although possibly it was a little bit old fashion it worked. A listener didn't even have to see the movie to appreciate all those decades of dance music.
When the CATHEDRALS recording turned out to be successful the record company let me know right away that I would have to come up with a second album and get into the studio ASAP. Well, I knew exactly where I wanted to go with the next album and at that point it was just a matter of coming up with new songs that covered all the relevant dance genres for 1976/77.
The first recording session included the songs 'Broadway Melody', 'Going Hollywood' and the opening titles fanfare from the original RKO film King Kong. Aram lifted the arrangements directly from the original cuts on the soundtrack recordings.
To date THE TEA DANCE remains my personal favorite recording. It's exactly want I wanted it to be... and after all these years I wouldn't change a thing."

It is said that world famous rapper Grand Master Flash, among other famous rappers like Just Ice and Hip Hop/Rap radio personality DJ Red Alert, credits the extended break on the 12" remix of "Indiscreet" from The Tea Dance album as one of the first Hip Hop breaks. What do you think of that?
"This is a great question! It's true... it was one of the first Hip Hop breaks. I'll try to condense its history as much as I can to make a really long story short...
When my album THE TEA DANCE was released, we all waited for feedback from the Club DJ's before we decided on which one of the recording's tracks we would remix for a Disco 12" configuration. We had the Disco promotion people in the various cities around the country quiz their local DJ's and when they got back with us it seemed that there was a great deal of interest in a 'Face Of Love' remix. In the process I also came up with the idea of making it a 'special limited edition 12" pressing' of exactly 1,000 copies with a unique picture label and then numbering each label and sleeve. The remix would only be available to Disco/Dance DJ's through registered Disco records pools and it was never to be sold at the retail level.
At that point Aram and I went into the studio with the original multi-track recording and completely remixed 'Face Of Love' giving it an extended break and a longer fade for an easier mix in the Clubs. When that was completed we went into the mastering lab to master the remix for the vinyl pressing.
At this point I came up with another and very 'last minute' idea. I had always loved that little 'Arab belly dance' break in 'Indiscreet' and each time I would listen to that track I wanted to hear more of it. So I told Aram that I wanted to chop off the top of the track, extend the break in the middle with some creative looping work and speed the whole thing up a little. I can remember him looking at me like I was crazy and telling me that even though we could do it, it wouldn't be considered a Disco break. I told him I didn't care what kind of break it was... we had the studio time and a B-side to the 12" release. I wanted to do it. It took us about two hours to extend the break. It made me very happy and we added it as a second side. When the 12" was pressed and distributed to the record pools... well, we all know what happened next. 'Indiscreet' stated getting played everywhere. And specially by the black DJ's in the local Urban neighborhood Clubs and house parties. I was told that the black DJ's would get two copies of the record and play them from turntable to turntable and 'Rap' over the extended break that they were making even longer. And who knew from Rap in 1977? Nobody! It was just starting. In 1977 I don't think Rap even had a name.
On to level two... De-Lite Records 'bootlegged' the B-side! It seems that because the remix was in such demand and there were only 1,000 promotional copies pressed and it were unavailable in record stores, the folks at Delight Records decided to put the 'Indiscreet' remix, unlicensed, on the B-side of a track titled 'Made In The U.S.A.' recorded by a group called the Melodies and get it into the stores. At the time Delight Records was a NYC based R&B/Soul/Disco label with an entirely Black artist roster. I am sure you can see where this is going. The Melodies record found its way into every Black and Hispanic Disco and Club and Urban/Inner city house party and from what I've been told it was presumed that I was black by 'label' association. Hardly... but whatever.
On to level three... The Ultimate Beats & Breaks-Volume One bootleg LP. Well, by the end of 1977 the 'Indiscreet' remix was everywhere and a very important part of what was becoming the Hip Hop/Rap revolution. So much so that when the Beats & Breaks 'bootlegger', once again... the track was never legally licensed, put the first 'Ultimate Beats & Breaks/Volume One' collection together he included my track. Over the years it must have been sampled on countless Hip Hop/Rap recordings and sold tens of thousand of copies. I might add that I have never been paid royalties on any of the bootleg records, tapes or CD's that have included the 'Indiscreet' remix and I am only starting to get paid on the sampling but I don't loose sleep over it. I am happy that I was such an important beginning part of the Hip Hop/Rap music genre and that my contribution is continually acknowledged."

Various releases of 'Indiscreet'



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CLICK to hear some D.C. LaRue songs...

Boys can't fake it

Cathedrals

Hot jungle drums and voodoo rhythm

Let them dance

Meter man

On with the dance

On your knees
Grace Jones



CLICK to hear some D.C. LaRue Disco favorites...

Boogie wonderland
Earth, Wind & Fire

Don't leave me this way
Thelma Houston

Honeybee
Gloria Gaynor

Instant Replay
Dan Hartman

Just be good to me [Denniz PoP rmx]
S.O.S Band

Love hangover
Diana Ross

Love to love you baby
Donna Summer

Never can say goodbye
Gloria Gaynor

Reach out (I'll be there)
Gloria Gaynor

Touch and go
Ecstacy, Passion & Pain

Victim
Candi Staton



CLICK to hear some related songs...

Bad girls
Donna Summer

Can you handle it
Sharon Redd

Can't stop the music
Village People

Fly too high
Janis Ian

Go West
Village People

Hot stuff
Donna Summer

I feel love
Donna Summer

In the navy
Village People

Last dance
Donna Summer

Let's all chant
Michael Zager Band

MacArthur Park Suite
Donna Summer

Macho Man
Village People

Rumour has it
Donna Summer

San Francisco
Village People

Sun... sun... sun...
Jakki

Turn the beat around
Vicki Sue Robinson

Y.M.C.A
Village People





D.C. LaRue - Let Them Dance, The Best of... CD
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Cathedrals
Don't Keep It In The Shadows
Face Of Love
Indiscreet
Let Them Dance
Do You Want The Real Thing
Hot Jungle Drums And Voodoo Rhythm
Meter Man
So Much For L.A.


Have you or your publisher ever tried to take legal action against De-Lite Records or any of the other bootleggers?
"I am sorry to say that I was never able to get very far with any legal action until now. My publishing was sold several years ago and is currently controlled by EMI Music Publishing worldwide and I am happy to say that they are just starting to aggressively look after my interests. They have been tracking down all the unlicensed 'sampling' and finally getting monies due for my efforts. I might add that they have been very successful.
The trouble is that De-Lite Records doesn't exist anymore and tracking down the responsible parties for the 'Ultimate Beat & Breaks' compilation has been difficult. The responsible parties prefer to remain very much in hiding."

Ca-the-drals was released on Pyramid Records. A small record label which was distributed by Roulette Records. Can you tell me more about Pyramid Records? It seems that you were the main artist of the label, even though Pat Lundy, Phil Medley, Egg Cream and Jakki were also on Pyramid's artist roster. Who was behind the label and what happened to the label?
"It just so happens that Pyramid Records was formed solely for me to release CATHEDRALS. Dennis Ganim was the A&R/promotion guy who is responsible for having enough faith in my ideas and the CATHEDRALS project to do whatever it took to get the record released and distributed. Our first collaboration/production together was the previously mentioned 'Move In Closer' recording released through Claridge Records. It was a great, funny, danceable record that got lots of super reviews and great reactions but it didn't sell any records or make any money for the Claridge Records label.
D.C. LaRue When my concept for CATHEDRALS came along, Claridge Records passed on the album. But Dennis was a true believer and wouldn't give up on the project. He took it to almost every record company in New York City where it was turned down for whatever reasons.
After a few months Dennis having spent a great deal of his personal money as 'start up' for the album's recording needed two things: more money to finish the recording and a releasing label. As a last resort he when to Morris Levy who was head of the Roulette Records group of labels and presented to him the Pyramid Records/CATHEDRALS/D.C. LaRue project. Morris never even listened to the songs. Dennis was such a good salesman that Morris simply agreed to give us the money to form the label and finish the recording process.
That's when Dennis started added other artists, Pat Lundy, Jakki, etc., to the Pyramid Records roster. The label was making money and it was obviously time to start releasing more and varied product as recorded by other artists."

After the release of The Tea Dance, your recordings were released through Casablanca Records. What was the reason for that happening?
"Dennis Ganim suddenly just disappeared after the release of THE TEA DANCE album. I've never been able to find out what happened to him. Really... he just disappeared into thin air. Believe me... I can't make these things up! I hadn't heard from him in weeks when Morris Levy called me into his office for a talk. He told me that Dennis was out of the picture and since he didn't really have the time or the inclination to run an additional record label he had made a deal with Neil Bogart, President of Casablanca Records, for Casablanca to release/distribute my future recordings in the US. All the prior Pyramid Records foreign distribution deals would remain in place... subsequently my recordings were released on Casablanca Records in the US and on Pyramid Records worldwide."
Have you any comments on Casablanca Records, its president Neil Bogart and the rest of the record/filmworks company? Any thoughts about the on people working in 'the Casbah' that you would like to share?
"WOW!! That's a whole other interview. It would take pages and pages and pages for me to answer that one.
Casablanca's president Neil Bogart had me move from New York City to Los Angeles, California to live for three years because that's where their corporate offices were located. And I'll say one thing... it was like I died and went to heaven."

Casablanca Records logo

OK, Neil Bogart had you move to L.A. and you told me that you needed page after page to tell about Casablanca Records and the people who worked there. I'd love to hear a little bit more - if possible. Maybe just one or two memories or anything else you could tell about your Casablanca years?
"As I've said before... that's another whole interview. But the experience was just great. Neil was super duper and wonderful to work with. The promotion people, the creative people... everyone and everything was First Class.
Casablanca provided the background to some of the best years of my life. If I had to name one fault with the experience it would be that they gave me too much creative freedom. For some reason Neil would personally A&R all the artists at the label except me. He would have Donna Summer, Village People or whoever go into the recording studio time after time until they delivered what he considered a 'Top 40' hit single to release from whatever album was in progress. I only wish he had done that with me. The only thing my career is missing is a string of 'Top 40' hit singles. I know in retrospect that I would have taken his direction had he chosen to give it. I was always a reasonable man. But it seems that he was fascinated with the 'underground', and self indulgent, nature of my recordings and they were generating enough money for him to leave me alone and not get involved."

Thank God It's Friday OST Your songs "Do You Want The Real Thing" and "You Can Always Tell A Lady" were featured in the film Thanks God It's Friday along with other songs by famous Casablanca and Motown acts. "Do You Want The Real Thing" was also included in the soundtrack. What effect did the movie have on your career?
"It boosted my career momentum big time. And the scheduling was great. The soundtrack was released a few months before the release of my third album CONFESSIONS. When the 12" remix of 'Let Them Dance' from CONFESSIONS was shipped it was an immediate success in the clubs. I was very lucky."
Besides having songs in the Thank God It's Friday movie, D.C. actually appeared as a guest at 'Heartland' in the 1978 RSO film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a movie based on music by the Beatles as mainly performed in the movie by the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.
D.C. also appeared in Village People's 1980 movie - Can't Stop The Music. But he didn't perform any songs in these two movies.

D.C. LaRue - Confessions LP Well, if Neil Bogart of Casablanca A&R'ed many of his acts to make sure they made Top 40 hit singles, then he didn't need to worry about his new protégé - D.C. LaRue. Because with his first album for Casablanca, and D.C.'s third album, Confessions in 1978, he managed to get the full album onto the Billboard Disco Chart once again. And the Confessions LP was storming up to # 12.
This time Bob Esty was the album producer and he also wrote one of the songs for the album - "Pounding With Desire", but the major hit was of course - "Let Them Dance". A wonderful Disco track that still sounds as fresh today as it did some 30+ years ago and it still creates excitement on Dance floors all around the world.

D.C. LaRue - Forces Of The Night LP In 1979 it as time for D.C.'s fourth full length album called Forces of the Night. Sadly the album didn't make the same kind of chart success as Mr. LaRue's previous albums, but still it's a very good album.
The track "Have A Good Time" was a duet with Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award winning Hollywood and Broadway actress Rita Moreno and she also helped D.C. with the Spanish translations and pronunciations in the song. Rita was working with actress Jane Fonda at the time, and when the album was released Rita gave Jane a copy and she loved it. Jane even recommended the song "Hot Jungle Drums And VooDoo Rhythm" in her first Jane Fonda Workout Book.
"Hot Jungle Drums And VooDoo Rhythm" was also the albums single release, where it in the 12" version had been extended to the double length for everyone's dancing pleasure. Opposed to many earlier Casablanca 12" singles which usually were single sided releases, this one had the equally good "On With The Dance" on the flip.

D.C. LaRue - Star, Baby LP In 1980 D.C. fifth, and last, album was released. D.C. had even brought in his friend and producer Aram Schefrin again, this time to get a more New Wave and Rock kind of sound. But sadly his Star, Baby album was released in the backlash of the 'Disco Sucks!' campaign and that resulted in less, or second to none, support from the label in terms of advertising and promotion. Which in return led to less sales and no chart action for this overlooked album, which deserved better.
Still there was a 3-track 12" single released which included the songs "So Much For L.A.", as the A-side, "Boys Can't Fake It" and "Meter Man" in the B-side. The A-side track made some stir in the Clubs, but not enough to climb the charts.
Besides the LP also included yet another duet with Lou Christie in the albums final number, the thrilling "Into The Ozone".

Pyramid and Casablanca releases of 'Let Them Dance'

Sadly you disappeared from the music scene in 1981 with what was considered the end of the "Disco" era. Was it your own choice or was it because of the times and the labels abandoning you and your "Disco" peers?
"Believe me, it wasn't my own choice. It was a nightmare. I had signed a five album recording agreement with Pyramid Records and when the fifth album was recorded and released my contract came to an end. That was 1980. I tried like crazy to get another recording deal. I called everyone I knew in the music industry. People who had been all to happy to wine me and dine me and entertain me in 1979 wouldn't give me the courtesy of picking up the telephone to speak with me or even return my calls by 1980.
I tried for about two years to get another recording deal but finally gave up and realized that I would have to re-invent myself if I were going to survive. With all the millions & millions of Disco/Dance records that had been sold from 1975 through 1980 the music business executives didn't want anything to do with any artist that was considered 'Disco'."

D.C. LaRue - as a priest in the Cathedral Now Disco is having its 'revenge' with all the sampling and whatever. What do you think about the sampling of your classic Disco tracks?
"It thrills me... it really does. The words 'timeless' and 'classic' can get over used but in this case I think they apply. When a 1976 recording like 'Cathedrals' can be sampled, for example in '3 AM' by Bobby Blanco & Miki Moto on Defected Records UK, in 2006 to create a relevant dance mega hit in it's sampling reincarnation the words 'timeless' and 'classic' can justifiably be used to describe 'Cathedrals'.
Over the years it has happened with my 'Face Of Love', 'Indiscreet', 'Let Them Dance' and 'Hot Jungle Drums & VooDoo Rhythm' among others. They have all had successful 'sampling reincarnations' to my overwhelming delight. I can't put into words how proud it makes me that my recordings have had such an enduring quality and that they are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago."

Why do you think Disco has made such a comeback? Specially since it all seemed to be considered "trash" back in the late 70s and early 80s?
"Because it's great music... and most of it has been totally overlooked for one reason or another for years. It had to re-surface. I was just a matter of time. I'm glad I'm alive to be seeing it happen."

Have you got a copy of every recording you've been involved in?
"Yes! Of course. I even have copies of what would be considered 'work in progress', stuff like the very basic tracks of 'I Don't Want To Loose You', 'Cathedrals', 'Hot Jungle Drums & VooDoo Rhythm' and 'Let Them Dance' among others. The tracks with no added horns or strings or vocals or whatever.
Bob Esty and D.C. When working with both Aram Schefrin or Bob Esty we would always create the recordings in the same way. We would build the track layer on top of layer. With each step I would have the engineer make a cassette copy of that day's work for me to take home to study in preparation of the next day's session. I've saved everything. It's amazing to be able to go back and listen to the evolution of those recordings. It also brings back a lot of pleasant memories!"

Which is your favorite song of the ones you've recorded?
D.C. LaRue in a chair "It would be difficult for me to name just one favorite from everything I've recorded. I admit that one of my very, very favorite recordings is definitely THE TEA DANCE. Not just one track but the entire album... from beginning to end. When an artist/writer/producer goes into the studio they always have an end result in mind but, sadly, most of the time there is something that doesn't quite feel right... that doesn't really come together the way you had envisioned it. In the final analysis there is always one or two tracks that you're just a little unhappy with. Conceptually THE TEA DANCE was very elaborate and complex... a tribute to dance music thought the years. And after all this time I wouldn't change a thing!
Another favorite would have be the 12" remix of 'Let Them Dance'. The extended break recording engineer Bob Stone created is amazing. A real masterpiece in my opinion. I admit I had very little to contribute except for being able to recognize Bob's genius and let him do whatever he felt like doing. It turned out to be magic in the clubs. It got people rushing to the dance floor. It was trance inducing to say the least.
And, of course, there's the 'Cathedrals' track. It was such a good recording that, at times, I can hardly believe that it is mine. And it was such an easy record to make. Everything just fell into place. So smooooth! I am so proud of it and its enduring quality. The recognition it's continually receiving is constantly amazing me and is very satisfying. And every time it is sampled it renews interest in the original recording. '3 AM' was a giant hit! And it's almost all 'Cathedrals'. So much so that I am getting a 'performance' rate royalty as opposed to the usual 'sample' rate royalty.
And 'Cathedrals' just goes on and on. Disco DJ, record producer and music publisher John 'Jellybean' Benitez has been quoted as saying that he thinks 'Cathedrals' is one of the most influential Disco recordings of the entire decade. Over the years there have been countless people crediting 'Cathedrals' as changing their lives... musical and otherwise. It makes me feel rather proud.
But in the final analysis I am proud of all my recordings... admittedly some more than others. It's undeniable that they are a part of my 'past' and a part of my 'future' and as long as there are humans alive on the face of the earth that love dance music... they are my 'forever'."

What kind of music do you personally prefer?
"Almost everything out there that's good enough, of course - 'good enough' in my opinion... it's all personal taste, to get my attention. Country, Doo Wop, Rock/Pop, Classical, Dance/Disco, Techno/Trance, Hip Hop/Rap, Reggae, Latin... you name it. I have a rather extensive recording collection and I'm always listening to music... old and new. Music is a big part of my life."
Since my website is mainly Disco oriented... do you have any favorite Disco tracks? Something like your personal "Disco Top 20" or likewise?
"I have so many 'personal favorites' that the list could go on forever! I loved the dance music that was being created from the early 1970s through the early 1980s. I'll try to condense the number of tracks by submitting what I consider my 'Best of the Best'... the tracks that still excite me, thrill me and get my heart pounding. Here's my personal list of Disco's Top 40 from my huge list of 'personal favorites'. Of course, the 12" mix of the track... if it existed at the time and these selections are not in any special order;"

Stevie Wonder"Superstition"
Isaac Hayes"Shaft"
Manu Dibango"Soul Makossa"
Bee Gees"Nights On Broadway"
Brother To Brother"In The Bottle"
Blackbirds"Walking In Rhythm"
Ritchie Family"Brazil"
Little Sister"You're The One"
Trammps"Hold Back The Night"
South Shore Commission"Free Man"
B.T. Express"Do It 'Till You're Satisfied"
Donna Summer"Love To Love You Baby"
Grace Jones"That's The Trouble"
Gloria Gaynor"Honey Bee/Never Can Say Goodbye/Reach Out (Medley)"
Ecstasy, Passion & Pain"Touch And Go"
Detroit Emeralds"Feel The Need In Me"
Undisputed Truth"You + Me = Love"
Eruption"I Can't Stand The Rain"
Gibson Brothers"Come To America"
Dan Hartman"Instant Replay"
Banzaii"Chinese Kung-Fu"
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes"Bad Luck"
Salsoul Orchestra"Magic Bird Of Fire"
Thelma Houston"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Su Kramer"You've Got The Power"
Barry White"My Sweet Summer Suite"
Candi Stanton"Victim"
Eddie Kendricks"Boogie Down"
Earth, Wind & Fire"Boogie Wonderland"
Teri DeSario"Ain't Nothin' Gonna Keep Me From You"
Boz Scaggs"Lowdown"
Herb Alpert"Rise"
Jimmy Ruffin"Hold On To My Love"
Diana Ross"Love Hangover"
Gazebo"Masterpiece"
Marvin Gaye"Got To Give It Up"
S.O.S Band"Just Be Good To Me"
Phyllis Nelson"Don't Stop The Train"
Isley Brothers"Fight The Power"
Animotion"Obsession"

That's really a wonderful list of classic gem's D.C. has put together there.
Can you name one Disco song that would describe D.C. LaRue? And why?
"Yes...'Into The Ozone' from my STAR, BABY album. I shiver when I listen to it now. It's very revealing and on a spiritual, metaphysical level it's very personal. All about what's going on deep inside. All the fear... all the darkness... all the hope and faith and light."

Donna Summer and D.C. LaRue

Are you still in contact with any of the "classic Disco people" from the era?
"I see a few of the people from the 1970s that are still around. Needless to say I've lost a lot of my Disco friends because of the heartbreaking HIV-Aids horror. I'm in touch with Arnie Smith, former West Coast Disco promotion for Casablanca and RSO Records, Vince Aletti, one time Disco/Dance music critic and columnist for Record Word and Billboard Magazines, Randy Jones the cowboy and Felipe Rose the American Indian from the original Village People and DJ Nicky Siano.
Legendary DJ/producer/publisher Johnny 'Jellybean' Benitez has turned out to be a wonderful and long time acquaintance and we speak on a regular basis. He really is a super guy!
Sometimes I'll run into Grace Jones or Gloria Gaynor or Donna Summer and it is always great to see them although we really don't actively try to stay connected.
I frequently see photographer Peter Cunningham around the neighborhood and we chat.
When Janis Ian gets into town and makes an appearance I always try to reach out.
I was very friendly with the late, great Vicki Sue Robinson. She was also a neighbor until she passed several years ago.
And I have always been close with pop/rock legend Lou Christie. If you remember we co-wrote 'Don't Keep It In The Shadows' and accomplished several duets for my Disco/Dance recordings.
I can't think of anyone else off hand. I'm sure there are a few more. Sorry if I've left anyone out.
By the way... I've totally lost contact with both Aram Schefrin and Bob Esty. It has been about 20 years since I've seen or spoken with either one. I don't know why. From what I can remember there have never been bad feelings between us. I guess that after the Disco thing bottomed out they simply wanted to disconnect for some reason. Whatever."

What kind of work are you involved with at this point in your life?
"Photography! I love it. I do a great deal of figure study and candid celebrity portraiture. There's a 'Latino Firefighter' poster of mine that is available on the internet. If you're interested you can do a search. I've built up quite a portfolio over the last ten years. At this point in my life I am happiest when I am behind a camera. Although, as I've said previously, I wouldn't mind getting out and performing again. I get a little 'rush' when I think how exciting that could turn out to be if it started to happen.
And I've just completed my first music video. That's right... finally a music video after 30 years! I think it looks pretty nice. You can check it out on YouTube. Simply key in D.C. LaRue 'Cathedrals' the video 2008 and it comes right up."

D.C. LaRue today

Finally, What's you best memory during your years in the record business?
"This is one of those questions that is very difficult for me to answer. Over the years there have been so many wonderful moments shared with so many terrific people in so many special places. It would be impossible for me to come up with a single 'best of' memory. With rare exception I've had a super duper life. I have a lot to be thankful for."

D.C. LaRue has given us some of the greatest tracks of the Disco era and sadly he,
like most other "Disco acts", disappeared in the early 80s due to everything Disco becoming bad within the record industry.
He's grateful for his years spent in the business and is satisfied to be able today to work with what he loves, namely photography. Still he wouldn't mind hitting the stage more often and perform live and make sure to be on the lookout for any performances by D.C.
He's still Hot like Jungle Drums and VooDoo Rhythms and the audience...

"Let Them Dance!"

D.C. LaRue




Fore more info on "D.C.", visit his web site:

Visit the D.C. LaRue web-site
dclarue.org

BIG THANKS
to "D.C." for participating and making this page possible !!!




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