He remixed and produced numerous disco versions of popular songs, with a number of them being million sellers. His most successful and best known production was Alicia Bridges' I Love the Nightlife, which has become a "Disco standard". First released in 1978, it went to number five on the Billboard charts, and was given a new lease of life with its use in the 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other extremely successful productions include: Rod Stewart's Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?, The Doobie Brothers' What a Fool Believes (12" disco remix version) and Madleen Kane's Fire In My Heart and Secret Love Affair
He was also a popular DJ at many New York clubs (e.g. The Saint) and was "one of the most influential remixers for the disco era".
Burgess was born on July 21, 1953 in Okeechobee, Florida. He trained as a classical tenor and opera singer, and had "an amazing ear". He started as a DJ in Florida in the early-mid 1970s and then "moved on to Limelight, a gay club in Atlanta" where he was "discovered" by Tony Martino and Alan Harris, the owners of the New York club 12 West.
He moved to New York where he played at "all the hottest clubs like 12 West, Infinity, the Saint, Underground, Studio 54, Paradise Garage, as well as playing the Ice Palace in Fire Island".
Burgess had been one of the initial three resident DJs at the Saint along with Alan Dodd and Roy Thode, from its opening on 20 September 1980.
Burgess's popularity was attributed not only to his style and technique, but a love for theatrical effects and elements, which developed from his love of opera. He would frequently create his own "sound scenes" by using the dialogue from well-known film scenes over the break of a record - as well as attentuating the effect through long mixes and sophisticated blending.
Burgess chose to end his career at age 28 with a farewell party at the Saint on 31 January 1981. During the party, he famously walked out at the peak of the night and let the record run out. Afterwards Sharon White took over for the rest of the evening. Nevertheless, he still did subsequent infrequent gigs in New York, and started playing regularly at the Saint again in 1986. His actual last gig according to his partner was at The Ice Palace in 1989.
After commuting back and forth from NY to Philly, in 1987 he made the move to Philadelphia to pursue his first ambition, opera singing.
In Philadelphia he studied voice at the Curtis Institute of Music. He sang with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Rittenhouse Opera Society, and appeared as Florestan in Beethoven's "Fidelio" at the Lake George Opera Festival in New York and as Siegfried and Parsifal with the Liederkranz Society of New York, which awarded him first prize in its Wagner Competition.
Although he was never diagnosed with AIDS, he took ill soon after Labor Day in 1992. It was then that he was informed of his HIV status. His illness progressed very quickly and he died of an AIDS related brain tumor four months after taking ill, on 18 January 1993 at his home in Philadelphia. He was survived by his partner, Martin Dillon.
Macho Man: The Disco Era and Gay America's Coming Out by Randy Jones and Mark Bego
Hardcover: 232 pages
Publisher: Praeger (December 30, 2008)
Amazon: Macho Man: The Disco Era and Gay America's Coming Out
The Vietnam War was over and America seemed in the midst of a nationwide party. The self-proclaimed Me generation was flocking to discotheques, recreational drug use was high, and sexual taboos were being shattered nationwide. Then The Village People appeared on the music scene. Never before had gay sexuality been as up-front and in the face of America. The Village People struck a cultural nerve and fueled a craze that had them playing to sold-out crowds at Madison Square Garden. Even today, few adults could not at least hum the tunes to Y.M.C.A. and Macho Man. Because of the unique role they played in the United States of the late 1970s, The Village People are able to provide a powerful lens through which to view the emergence and development of gay culture in America. In Macho Man, readers can travel back with one of the first gay icons in popular music, and a top pop culture biographer, as they describe this complicated process of change.
In these pages, Randy Jones, the original cowboy in the band, takes us inside the time period, the discos, and the new musical style that was in many ways unprecedented in giving a voice to a previously closeted gay culture. Assisted by Mark Bego, one of the most popular and prolific pop culture authors working today, Jones shows how the fast-lane rise, fall, and rebirth of this novel band paralleled activities across the last 40 years within the gay culture and gay rights movement. The work concludes with a gayography — a listing of openly gay musicians and performers in the United States before and since The Village People - along with a discography and filmography. This work will interest pop culture and music enthusiasts, in addition to scholars in gay studies.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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