Larry Levan biography

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Larry Levan biography

Larry and The sign of the Paradise Garage

Two months before Larry's death in 1992, he went on a tour of Japan with Francois Kevorkian, who remembered it like this: "Larry went into a set of Philadelphia classics which was just so poignant, so emotional because the message of all the songs said he was really hurting. We all felt it at the time, but I think he pretty much knew he was dying and all the songs he played were so deeply related to how life goes. He played Jean Carne's 'Time Waits For No One' and the Trammps 'Where Do We Go From Here,' and I realised that this was one of the best moments of greatness that I had ever witnessed in my life. It was so obvious, so grand, such a drama to it, that you just knew." -- Francois K.


  • 1954, July 20th: Lawrence Philpot, later to be known as Larry Levan is born in Brooklyn NYC. His mother's name is Minnie and she is still alive.
  • The Gallery [1971/72] Larry Levan works along side Frankie Knuckles at New York club The Gallery
      Nicky Siano: "Frankie Knuckles came to The Gallery opening night and became friends with Robin, the woman I was seeing at the time who worked the door, she introduced him to me, and we hired him to work at the club. Frankie asked me to hire a good friend of his who was "wild but very talented", that friend was Larry Levan, who became my best friend, among other things."
  • Continental Baths 1972:
      Tee Scott: "Continental Baths was getting popular around the time I started at Better Days (may/july 1972). Larry Levan was just getting started at that time."
    • Larry Levan in [Collusion magazine 1983?]: "The first place I played at was the Continental Baths. I was doing lights and the DJ walked out. [...]
  • The Soho Place
      Larry Levan: "Then the whole thing came with Richard [Long] - I went to see the place, it was at 452 Broadway, called The Soho Place"
  • Michael Brody's club on 143 Reade Street:
      "I started working there and it got so crowded I just used to open up the windows and let the sound go out onto the street. When the club had to close because of overcrowding, they asked me not to play anywhere else until the new club opened."
  • Paradise Garage [1976/1977]
      Raven Fox: "That new club was The Paradise Garage. A huge warehouse-like space that had been converted from a garage into a membership only club. It partially opened in 1977 with only the smaller room open (they didn't have sufficient funds to finish it) and a sound system that had been specifically designed by Levan and collaborator Richard Long.
      1977 (early) it is ironic that first choice for the Chicago club The Warehouse was Larry Levan. He declined but in turn suggested his friend Frankie Knuckles
  • 1979 Larry remixes an album of songs for Salsoul records
  • 1982 (early) Larry produces Don't Make Me Wait, a landmark club record
  • 1982/1983 The mixes Larry does for Island with Sly and Robbie (Compass Point All Stars + Badarou?) and Gwen Guthrie are among the most exciting records of that era. "["Life Is Something Special"] was inspired by "Jungle Fever" by Chakachas"
  • 1987 (september 27) The Paradise Garage closes, Larry was there till the end
  • 1987 Larry crosses the Atlantic to set up the Ministry of Sound sound system, works at Studio 54 and Zanzibar
      London's Ministry of Sound brought him over for 3 days and he stayed for 3 months. He arrived 8 days late with no records. 'No records they said? Where are they' 'I've sold them all'. He had a massive heroin problem at that stage and he'd regularly do his wages before he finished playing. And he's sell his collection on a regular basis. His friends would go to the market and see it for sale; buy it back for him and he'd resell them again. In the end, they gave up.
  • 1988, Larry played at "special event" parties at Studio 54 and Palladium.
  • 1989, Larry found a temporary home at Richard Vasquez's The Choice. Larry played at the Choice Thursday nights and also on special occasions.
  • 1989 (July 4) Larry Levan and David DePino at Trax
  • 1990, things started looking up for Larry. He was playing at Mars on Thursday and Sunday nights and would soon get the opportunity to go on tour in Japan.
  • 1990 (July 22) Keith Mullarkey, Grace Jones, Larry Levan and Bob Caviano, Keith Haring Foundation party at the Palladium
  • 1990 (August 12) Larry Levan in the DJ booth at Mars
  • 1991 Larry plays at Sound Factory
  • 1992 Larry embarks on a tour of Japan with longtime friend Francois Kevorkian
  • 1992 On November 8, Larry passes away


    1. Larry Levan's Paradise Garage [Amazon US] I Got My Mind Made Up - Instant Funk | Handsome Man - Sparkle | First Time Around - Skyy | Double Cross - First Choice | The Greatest Performance Of My Life - Loleatta Holloway | How High - Salsoul Orchestra | Make It Last Forever - Inner Life.
      Orginally released as a two 12" promo-pack, this CD brings together the best of Larry Levan's (re) mixes on Salsoul records. Bonus track is 'Make it Last Forever', liner notes by Francois Kevorkian.

    2. Larry Levan Live at the Paradise Garage [Amazon US] Track Listings: Disc 1 - 1. Bourgiť Bourgiť - Asford & Simpson - 2. It's Music - Harris, Damon - 3. At Midnight - T Connection - 4. Put Your Body in It - Mills, Stephanie - 5. Dreaming a Dream - Crown Heights Affair - 6. By the Way You Dance (I Never Knew It Was You) - Sigler, Bunny - 7. Right in the Socket - Shalamar - 8. Take Me Home - Cher - 9. Pick Me up, I'll Dance - Moore, Melba - 10. Get on the Funk Train - Munich Machine - 11. Here We Go Again - People's Choice - Disc: 2 - 1. Here We Go Again [Cont.] - People's Choice - 2. Bad Mouthin' - Motown Sounds - 3. Let Yourself Go - Supremes - 4. Angel in My Pocket - Change - 5. Smack Dab in the Middle - McClain, Janice - 6. Sun.. Sun... Sun... - Jakki - 7. Trinidad - Gibbs, John - 8. My First Mistake - Chi-Lites - 9. Erucu - Jackson, Jermaine
      Live set by Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage. Personal favourites include Sun Sun Sun, Trinidad, Right in the Socket, It's Music. Very informative 38 page booklet included with good liner notes.

    3. Larry Levan's Classic West End Records Made Famous by the Paradise Garage [Amazon US]
      1. Heartbeat (Taana Gardner) - 2. Serious, Sirius, Space Party (Ednah Holt) - 3. No Frills (Taana Gardner) - 4. Don't Make Me Wait (New York Citi Peech Boys) - 5. Let's Go Dancin' (Sparque) - 6. Is It All Over My Face (Loose Joints) - 7. Work That Body (Taana Gardner) - 8. Give Your Body Up To The Music (Billy Nichols) - 9. When You Touch Me (Taana Gardner)
      Collection of twelves Larry mixed in the seventies for Mel Cheren's West End label. All great stuff. All required in any collection. Don't Make Me Wait and Is It All Over My Face are standout tracks, altho' they can be found on other comps.

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