In his youth he met a guy who would become a friend for life and also, just as Larry, one of the highest
regarded DJ's of the world, namely - Frankie Knuckles. Frankie
tells me the following about his friend; "There's a lot of things I can say about him...
He was a lot of fun, you know. He was very inspirational. He was a, I don't know, a... It's a little bit difficult
to talk about him."
The friends, Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles, both started their careers and learned how to beat mix at
Nicky Siano's popular club - the Gallery.
It was actually Frankie who first became friends with Robin, Nicky's girlfriend, she introduced Frankie to
Nicky and he got a job as a DJ in the club. Frankie introduced Nicky to a "wild, but very talented"
friend of him, Larry Levan. Larry got hired as well and soon he and Nicky became best friends...
Nicky tells me one memory of his dear friend Larry; "Larry and I were in Gallery one day,
and Larry was not exactly the most masculine guy, especially around me, we used to camp it up a lot...
Anyway, we were at the gallery one night and we hear someone breaking in, so Larry goes and gets
a crow bar we had in the back, and we ambush the burglar and Larry says in his most butch voice
'Hold it right there bro'. Well - I just cracked up laughing and the burglar thought we were
both out of our minds..."
In 1973 Levan left the Gallery to play at a club located at 73rd & Broadway called the Continental
Baths. Frankie later ended up working with Larry again at "the Baths" and Frankie kept working
there until the club's closure in 1976. Then the club was turned into the swingers club Plato's
Retreat, which Joe Thomas sang about in his 1978 hit with the same name.
But Larry left the club much before this to work in a club called Reade Street and
then opened up his own club, the Soho Place - BUT...
He enters the Disco scene BIG time in 1977 when the legendary Paradise Garage
opened at 84 King Street, New York. Larry was the resident DJ of "the Garage" and to many people he was
"the Garage". Lots of people, and other DJ's, came to the club just to hear him play...
Together with the sound engineer of the club - Richard Long - they managed to put together
the world's best sound system... Because, from any point on the dancefloor, center to sides and corners, the bass
was numbin', clean and forceful thumping directly into your breast bone. However, the most amazing thing was you
could not tell where the music was being generated. The sound was so good that it has been told the whole system
were sold to the Ministry of Sound in London when the Garage was forced to close down in September 26, 1987.
BUT, that's NOT true...
The sound system was installed at a club called the Paradise Ballroom on W. 43'rd St., New York. Sadly
that club didn't live that long and the system was actually auctioned off.
No matter, Larry along with his friend and fellow DJ Bert Bevans were hired
to help out install and open up Ministry of Sound [MoS] to get the same wonderful sound as the Garage had.
Bert tells me; "MoS was a 'Dream' comes true. After the Garage, That was the Best System in the
World... Larry and I had a Love-and-Hate relationship - sometimes it was good other time's... In addition, when we
opened MoS we hung out in London 4-5 months together, so that was cool."
Bert later told me that MoS was originally only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so the other days of the week he and
Larry used to hang out and sometimes even sneak into the club (since they had keys) at nights mixing and testing new
stuff just for fun.
I recently got a chance to talk to Mel Cheren, the owner and former of West End
Records. Mel told me much about West End, the Garage and Larry Levan. The Paradise Garage was owned
by a man called Michael Brody and Mel says; "(the late) Michael Brody was my life
partner, so the connection to the Garage was natural. I've got lots of memories of Larry Levan and the Garage that's
very important to me."
Mr. Cheren will share much more of his memories of Larry, the Garage, his life, West End Records and
the whole Disco Era in the book - Keep on Dancing, which was out in July 2000. Check it
Mel continues talking 'bout the Garage and the book... "I really hope someone would like
to make a movie out of the book and that they for the movie would restore the Garage to its original condition.
And then open it again with a diner in the bottom floor, which never was used before, like the Hard
Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood. I really wish the profit should go to charity. Also, I've got the
ashes of the late Larry Levan and I would like to have the urn with the ashes in the entrance of
the Garage so the fans from all over would be able to see it.".
I ask if he have got any other special memories or comments on some of the West End acts, Larry or
something else. Mel tells me; "I've got too much memories to tell... That's basically the whole
book. But everything of Michael, Larry, the Garage and the whole start of the Disco era is very
precious to me."
Also Kenton Nix, the writer of Taana Gardner's
West End hits, told me some memories of Larry. Kenton had a test pressing of a song he called
"Work that body". The record didn't even have any vocals yet, but he brought the record to the
Paradise Garage and gave it to Larry in the DJ booth.
Larry and the crowd loved the record and Kenton asked Larry if he couldn't help him get the record to
SalSoul Records. But Larry replied; "No, we're not gonna go to
SalSoul - this is a West End's Record, we gonna give this to West End." And since Mel Cheren,
the owner and former of West End Records, was part owner of the club - Kenton got to meet him, it hit
off and Kenton got a contract with West End.
Kenton Nix's first song out on West End Records was just "Work that body", but now Taana Gardner's
vocals were added. This Disco workout was followed by other hits for Taana like "When you touch me",
"No frills" and the song that's actually West End's biggest hit today - "Heartbeat".
AND... it was Larry who made the great remixes of all Taana Gardner's hits.
Kenton Nix made it all the way to Larry's DJ booth. Another guy and a friend of Larry's who also used to hang out
in the booth was the L.A. DJ, DJ Blue. He told me the following; "I grew up in
New York and did the club thing back in the late 70's and early 80's. I met Larry Levan way before he was
a DJ at the Garage. He was working at a club called Reade Street. I was a young club dancer and Larry had a
thing for me. So When I would go to the club he would let me hang out in the booth with him. I had played around
with mixing but nothing too serious. Then one nite Larry, Frankie [Knuckles] and myself were in the club and Larry
(who would do just about any drug you gave him) had some angel dust and we smoked in the booth. A half hour later
we were trippin' our butts off. So now the club is packed with people and Larry being the clown he was said to me
'Hey! mix awhile!' I was stunned. Here was one of the greatest DJ's I know letting me play in his club. I laughed,
Frankie laughed, but Larry was serious. So I played for 2 hours. But the funny thing was Larry thought I was good,
and that was all I needed. I stopped dancing and devoted all my time to perfecting my mixing. I spent many years
in the booths of both Larry and Frankie, and they taught me a lot."
One of the few female DJ's Lizzz Kritzer was introduced to Larry and the Garage by
another famous female DJ - Sharon White - Lizzz tells me;
"At the Garage, I used to store my coat under Larry Levan's turntables and we would hang out
in the booth."
Bert Bevans who also was friends with Larry and one of the few besides Larry who have played the Garage told me;
"Did you know that they fired Larry from the Garage because there were too many Black kids coming
to the Garage. They had these 'White Parties' with Jim Burgess,
Howard Merritt, Roy Thode and Sharon White. For 4 Months
there were NO BLACK PEOPLE in the Garage and when Larry finally took over again, some of the Original Black folks
never came back."
During this time when Larry didn't play the Garage - Bert, Larry and Bert's twin brother Robert - used to go out clubbing
at Studio 54 and other hot clubs. Steve Rubell,
owner of '54', used to try to talk Larry into start playing at '54' instead, but Larry always replied; "They're not ready
for me yet!". Which most likely was correct. Then Larry and Steve used to go get high together...
Larry's very own mixing style, were he used a songs instrumental parts, break beats and accapellas to
make completely new "live" remixes of the songs he choose to play, inspired lots of other DJ's to try
the same, made the audience go wild and... led him into the studio as a 12"singles remixer.
His remixes are much like the style he had when spinning at "the Garage". It's almost like a dub type
kind of mixes, often with long instrumental parts and building DJ-friendly intros. On top of this
he put lots of heavy basslines... And his remixes sounds as brilliant today as they did around 20 (!!!)
Kenton Nix told me this about his friends DJ'ing and the music at the Garage; "You know, the way
Larry played it, it was, it was just something that would never be again. I would love to see it, but it's just
something that's... that's almost like - perfect."
He continues; "I still think he's the greatest of all times. Larry is the greatest of all times...
You know, he will go down in history as that. I mean, every DJ knows it. So, like I said, it must be heavy to be
revered as much as this guy has been musically. There's really nothing you could... You would really be cheating him
if you said anything less."
Also Taana has nothing but good things to say about Larry; "Larry, he was very sweet, very sweet,
always to me. Larry did his own thing. But he always wanted to know, "Taana are you happy with your vocal, do you
wanna redo anything?" Or he would call me in to say "Can you do something a little different here and a little different
there?" And when we worked we just clicked from day one."
Another comment I've heard is; "On the deejay side Larry Levan was huge!! His mixes were like
'butta' smoothe, hot dripping and wet!!! He truly was a pioneer of the beat mix, and now there is actually a Grammy
Award for "remixer". I would love to see a posthumous award in his honor..." and I can really agree with that.
Other comments on his very wicked, but still great, spinning is stories like this; "The best night
of my life was June of 1984, when Larry played 'Music is the Answer' by Colonel Abrams for one whole hour! Mixed
up with Betty Wright's 'One Step Up, Two Steps Back'!".
Another story is when he first played the Peech Boys' "Life is something special". He teased everyone by
playing bits and pieces of it mixed into other records throughout the whole evening until he finally decided to play the
whole thing. But a "standard" Levan mix would usually last for some 15-20 minutes with added extracts of other songs and
He really know his value and the effect he had on the crowd, you can say he was kind of a Diva in his own way - You know,
sometimes he wouldn’t play the next record until you applauded him.
Larry was also very persistent if he believed in a record - like when he first played Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat"
at the Garage. With its slow tempo and everything, it was way too slow for the audience in the club and the dance floor
was left empty. But Larry didn't give up, he kept playing the tune several times a night and within a few weeks everyone
was running TO the floor instead of OFF the floor when it was played. This song also became the biggest selling record ever
in the little record store just around the corner from the club - Vinyl Mania. They sold over 5000 (!!!)
copies of the 12"single.
Larry was a popular remixer and producer with New York labels like West End Records
and SalSoul Records.
For West End he remixed for example; Ednah Holt "Serious, Sirius space party",
New York Citi Peech Boys classic "Don't make me wait", Loose Joints "Is it all over
my face" and as mentioned before, all of Taana Gardner's hits.
New York Citi Peech Boys was actually Larry Levan's own band and project. Originally they called themselves just
the Peech Boys, but the Beach Boys thought Peech Boys name was too close to theirs - so to avoid to
get sued Larry and the band decided to add New York Citi before their name.
In July 1999 - West End Records are back with their first album release in 20 years and what could be more appropriate
than an album with classic Larry remixes. The album is called; Larry Levan's Classic West End Remixes (Made
Famous at the Legendary Paradise Garage). It includes 9 tracks all digitally remastered specially for this release.
The songs are;
1. Taana Gardner "Heartbeat"
2. Ednah Holt "Serious, Sirius Space Party"
3. Taana Gardner "No Frills"
4. New York Citi Peech Boys "Don't Make Me Wait"
5. Sparque "Let's Go Dancin'"
6. Loose Joints "Is It All Over My Face"
7. Taana Gardner "Work That Body"
8. Billy Nichols "Give Your Body Up to the Music"
9. Taana Gardner "When You Touch Me"
Total running time 73:19
In the inlay to the above CD, Kenton Nix, recalls how Ednah Holt's "Serious, Sirius space party"
came about; "Larry and I were Trekkies and Star Wars freaks. Larry said to me, why don't you write
a song about a party in outer space and talk about the characters like they are at the Garage and the Garage is in
space and everyone has a membership: you know, Darth, Kirk, Luke, OB1 and everybody. And they're just rocking, just
up there dancing. So I did it, but Larry thought it didn't have enough space effects - didn't think it sounded like
it was really in outer space so he did this remix. Larry wanted something out there, but funky."
West End C.E.O., Mel Cheren, adds; "Once Larry likes a record he just starts mixing. He must have
had twelve versions of it. Nearly put us out of business mixing that record. Larry had handwritten his top ten list
which he posted in the DJ booth: 'Serious' was his #1 favorite record."
Another Larry Levan myth is told about this Ednah Holt song - it's about a never-before-released dub
version of the song titled "Serious, Serius Sax Party". Rumor has it that Levan was so enamored
of this very mix that he pressed up 100 white labels, stamped them "Serious, Sirius Sax Party", and
tossed them out of his DJ booth late one (1981) night at The Paradise Garage. Occasionally one of these
highly prized white labels surfaces, feverishly fetching upwards of $140. --This via Stephan Prescott,
owner of Dance Tracks in Manhattan's East Village.
Another little trivia that can be fun to know is that Ednah Holt was once a member of the hit R&B/disco
group, The Ritchie Family.
If "Serious, Sirius Space Party" was one of Larry's favorite songs in 1981, this was his favorites playlist
at the Paradise Garage in December 1978:
"Chains/Cream (Always rises to the top)" Bionic Boogie
"Contact" Edwin Starr
"Feed the flame" Lorraine Johnson
"Hold your horses" First Choice
"I don't know it it's right" Evelyn "Champagne" King
"I will survive" Gloria Gaynor
"I'm every woman" Chaka Khan
"Je suis music/Rocket in the pocket" Cerrone
"Kiss me again" Dinosaur
"Lady Bug" Bumble bee Unlimited
"Le Freak/I want your love" Chic
"My claim to fame/True love is my destiny" James Wells
"Shoot me (with your love)" Tasha Thomas
"Souvenirs/Kechak fantasy/Eastern trip/Tahiti, Tahiti" Voyage
"You stepped into my life" Melba Moore
For SalSoul Levan went into the studio to make 12" remixes several times. For example; in December 4,
1978 he remixed the SalSoul funkateers Instant Funk's new song - "I got my mind made up".
In March 30, 1981 he made the 12" remix of "Ain't no mountain high enough" by Inner Life.
This song was written by Ashford & Simpson and was produced and arranged by two of the most
important guys to the Disco scene - Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael. (And YES...
It's the same song Diana Ross use to sing as well!)
It's quite clear to hear that Larry had his audience at "the Garage" in mind when he made these 2
remixes and it's probably because of that they both became Paradise Garage and Larry Levan
Other songs he remixed for SalSoul is; Instant Funk - "Slap slap lickedy lap" &
"Everybody", Sparkle - "Handsome man" and First Choice - "Double cross".
But... Larry's very first remix was actually "C is for Cookie" - by Sesame Street's Cookie Monster -
in 1978, followed by Taana's "Work that body"...
One of the most sought for of his remixes is the Padlock mini-LP which was released in 1983
on his own Garage label. This excellent 5 track album was produced by Sly & Robbie
with vocals by Gwen Guthrie. Every single song of this record is a hit and all the songs
are special remixes by Larry Levan. The record includes "Hopscotch", "Seventh heaven",
"Getting hot", "Peanut butter" and ends with the brilliant title track "Padlock".
Some of these songs appeared on another Gwen Guthrie album - but not with these mixes!
The Padlock album was released on Garage Records, which was the child of Larry Levan and it was on this
label he had Gwen along with his and Michael de Benedictus' act, n.y.c. Peech Boys, signed to.
The label's records was originally released by West End Records but was later moved to be released by
But just like Larry - Gwen also died much too early, in February 1999. She and Larry both did some great
work together during the years and they will for sure be remembered for it.
The Padlock mini-LP is probably the most hard-to-find record of the ones Larry remixed, maybe together
with Imagination's dub mixes album Night dubbing, in which Larry remixed the
In 1986 Larry returned into the studio again with Gwen Guthrie and he then did the remix of one of
that years best songs, namely "Ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent". Both the song and the
remix are nowadays to be considered as classics!
Other classical remixes done by Larry Levan is (just to mention a few); Class Action's version
of "Weekend" (original done by Phreek), Lace - "Can't play around", Tracy
Weber - "Sure shot", Strikers - "Body music" and Jimmy Ross - "First
true love affair".
When Disco "died" in the early eighties and new dance music styles started coming around - like the
uptempo Hi-Energy and Chicago's House music... New York had it's own type of House
music and Levan was of course one of the pioneers in developing this new style - and what would be
more appropriate than calling the New York sound after "Larry's" Paradise Garage - the New York sound
was of course called Garage.
Talking about Garage music... As the Garage music pioneer he was - it isn't surprising that his last
remix was a real Garage smacker!
Larry made this last remix just months before he died in 1992, he then remixed the song "Strong
enough" sung by the old Disco diva Loleatta Holloway.
In this release on the small Active label he still showed his skills in making great remixes and
the record also contain a remix by another old Disco remixer - Francois Kevorkian (who remixed many
Prelude releases). The record is (of course) Mastered by Herbie "Pump" Powers Jr. So... In his last remix
job he was still surrounded by the best people...Ý
The same year  Taana Gardner released an updated version of the old LaBelle song "What can I do for you" on
the small Elegal label. In the run-out groove of this 12" single someone has written "Dedicated to Larry
The legend lives on and FINALLY there's a Larry Levan Live @ the Paradise Garage album available!
This is really the ultimate party records for EVERY Garage, Levan or Disco fan. This is a double CD set
which comes in a "glow in the dark" sleeve. Besides the two CD's with great music there's also a booklet
with information, pictures and a lot more about the Paradise Garage, Larry Levan, the music and the New
York nightlife and club scene. This is just a MUST HAVE release, which is a co-production between Strut
Records in the UK and the legendary revived West End Records in the US.
This is REALLY Larry Levan Live at the Paradise Garage one night in 1979. The compilation show some of
his techniques and his sometimes wicked ways of playing different tunes and it also gives you an idea
on how he used to "test" his own remixes on the Garage crowd. Because, among all the hits and the today
hard-to-find classics you find the Larry Levan remixed Janice McClain "Smack dab in the middle".
To top everything about this great box set, Strut and West End have brought in another legend to master
everything, namely - Tom Moulton, which is a guarantee for the
greatest sound available.
the Famous Swedish record critic, Jan Gradvall, motivated in NojesGuiden why this release is one
of the best records right now, with the following comment; "Because the segue from Cher's
'Take me home' over to Melba Moore's 'Pick me up, I'll dance' summarize everything I love with music.".
Ashford & Simpson "Bourgie bourgie"
Damon Harris "It's music"
T-Connection "At midnight"
Stephanie Mills "Put your body in it"
Crown Heights Affair "Dreaming a dream"
Bunny Sigler "By the way you dance (I never knew it was you)"
Shalamar "Right in the socket"
Cher "Take me home"
Melba Moore "Pick me up, I'll dance"
Munich Machine "Get on the funk train"
People's Choice "Here we go again"
Motown Sounds "Bad moutin'"
Supremes "Let yourself go"
Change "Angel in my pocket"
Janice McClain "Smack dab in the middle"
Jakki "Sun... Sun... Sun..."
John Gibbs & the US Steel Band "Trinidad"
Chi-Lites "My first mistake"
Jermaine Jackson "Erucu"
Download the FREE basic RealPlayer...|
CLICK to hear some Larry Levan remixed songs...
Give your body up to the music
Ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent
Ain't no mountain high enough
I got my mind made up
Slap, slap, Lickedy lap
Smack dab in the middle
Can't play around
I know you will
Don't make me wait
NYC Peech Boys
When you touch me
Work that body
CLICK to hear some some Paradise Garage favorites...
Boogie oogie oogie
A Taste of Honey
I love the nightlife
Found a cure
Ashford & Simpson
Got to have loving
Evelyn "Champagne" King
Keep on dancin'
This time baby
In the bush
Ooh, I love it (Love break)
Do what you wanna do
Can't live without your love
Don't leave me this way
Listen to Larry Levan LIVE...
Paradise Garage 1982 - Part 1
Paradise Garage 1982 - Part 2
Paradise Garage 1985
Paradise Garage 1986
Paradise Garage 1986
Paradise Garage 1987
Studio 54 1989
Endmax - Japan 1990
Endmax - Japan 1991
Italian radio show 1992
Live in Japan 1990
Ministry of Sound 1991
NOTE - Mixes are not for sale...
CLICK G-clef for a small Larry Levan medley...
Click to buy from
Paradise - Change
Weekend - Phreek
Clouds - Chaka Khan
Haven't You Heard - Patrice Rushen
We Got the Funk - Positive Force
Smack Dab in the Middle - Janice McClain
Bad For Me - Dee Dee Bridgewater
Heartbeat - Taana Gardner
You Can't Hide (Your Love From Me) - David Joseph
Love Honey, Love Heartache - Man Friday
Don't Make Me Wait - Peech Boys
Baby I'm Scared of You - Womack & Womack
Lost in Music - Sister Sledge
Why Leave Us Alone - Five Special
Love Injection - Trussel
Can't Play Around - Lace
Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Inner Life
It Should Have Been You - Gwen Guthrie
Lover's Holiday - Change
Situation - Yaz
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads
Love Has Come Around - Donald Byrd & 125th Street, NYC
Click to buy from
Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Inner Life feat. Jocelyn Brown
How High - The Salsoul Orchestra
By the Way You Dance - Bunny Sigler
Handsome Man - Sparkle
Double Cross - First Choice
Greatest Performance of My Life - Loleatta Holloway
Crying - Instant Funk
When I Come Home - Aurra
I Know You Will - Logg
I Got My Mind Made Up - Instant Funk
First Time Around - Skyy
It's Just Begun - The Jimmy Castor Bunch
Everybody - Instant Funk
Summertime Lovin' - Steve Arrington
Skyzoo - Skyy
Slap Slap Lickedy Lap - Instant Funk
High - Skyy
Bodyshine - Instant Funk
Make It Last Forever - Inner Life feat. Jocelyn Brown
Click cover to buy
Peanut Butter (prelude)
Getting Hot (prelude)
Hopscotch (Larry Levan remix instrumentral)
Seventh Heaven (album mix of "portrait")
Padlock(album mix of "portrait")
Getting Hot(original 12" version)
Peanut Butter (original 12" version)
Padlock (Larry Levan remix - short vocal)
Hopscotch (album mix of "portrait")
Click to buy from
Maestro - the Documentary - the DVD
For more Larry CD's...