After an energetic and eager “I’ll Be Around,” Legends Of Vinyl’s Luis Mario noted that the performer,79 year old Phil Hurtt might not be a household name, he certainly is wherever there are disco fans. The first dance Mario and his wife ever had was to the 1976 smash co-written by Hurtt and Thom Bell for the Spinners “I’ll Be Around”, and hearing it last night was an emotional whiplash: with one song the immense lov (sic) , emotions, beauty, and purity of spirit personified by the Hall Of Fame was proven.
I was a guest of co-producer SohoJohnny at yesterday’s Hall Of Fame induction ceremony and it was not 2019’s version (here). 2019 was celebratory, a last hurrah as Father Time confronts disco and loses, 2021, after a two year break due to the pandemic, saw Father Time getting the upper hand. Arriving at Paradise Catering in the heart of Brooklyn’s disco epicenter, we said hello to old friends and reeled from our loss. I can say no more than the dancing that followed the induction ceremony seconded as a tribute to LOV mainstay, the late DJ Tony Scott, who was inducted in 2016 and a well missed presence this year as he was awarded the DJ Icon Of The Year Award.
In 2022, as Founder & CEO Luis Mario extends the HoF to include freestylists (and I believe there will be more early hip hop as well), it won’t be the bittersweetness of Tuesday evening, though it must be by definition to looking back (the rock n roll Hall Of Fame has a 25 year gate before entry… it comes with the territory), however within its confines it will look forward. So as we sit stupefied at the passings during the in memory of those we lost between 2019 through 2021, we look around us in gratitude for we who remain.
With New York DJ Al Magliano and Sue Belle sharing the stage, Luis changed things up, starting with an hour of inductions before we heard a live performance. The streamlining made the evening fly-by and as the evening continued we did give some performances, Devon Williams – Salsoul performer and Icon recipient Carol Williams son performed on his mom’s behalf -surely a painful but important way to think about his husband who passed recently.
Carol also presented the “Golden Circle Award” to photographer Lisa-Nocela Pacino and a DJ so big even I’ve heard of him, Richie Rich, received the “Legacy Award”. Mark S Berry, who got his start engineering for Paul McCartney, was inducted. The DJ trajectory is so similar for every New York DJ, as personified by Brian Portnoy, who was a kid DJ and taught by his peers till he made the jump to the heart of New York clubland Studio 54, Red Parrot, The Penthouse…. legendary nightlife. Then move back and forth from Miami! Other DJ’s included Randy Easterling, Roman Ricardo, Tony Cintorino, Sal Abbatiello, Scott Blackwell, Alex Garcia, James Cruz, and more.
It was left to the singers in front of the DJs to sing for their supper! Unlimited Touch performed “I Hear Music In The Street”, Phil Hurtt his version of the song he gave the Spinners, Pamala Stanley, and Pattie Brooks brought the room to its feet (you may remember Pattie’s “After Dark” on the “Thank God It’s Friday” soundtrack album). While the great Blue Magic and the greatest Carol Williams didn’t perform, Cyre stole the evening with a thrilling mini-set.
If you care about music, if you care about your culture, and, maybe especially, if you care about New York you should join me in thanking Luis Mario for the “Legends Of Vinyl”. Of all the things last night prove what it proved most was that while we will pass, disco will live on with love.
a tribute to black British excellence
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