On This Gay Day: Dance music producer Patrick Cowley died

Patrick Cowley was a pioneer of electronic dance music 

Patrick Cowley is remembered as a pioneer of electronic dance music whose influence extends to musicians making music today.

Born in Buffalo, New York, he began his musical career as a drummer in various bands. When he was 21 he moved to San Francisco to attend college to study music, particularly the use of synthesizers to create sounds.

In 1978 he began working with Sylvester creating many of the disco icons hits including You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Stars, Dance (Disco Heat), Do Ya Wanna Funk and I Need Somebody Tonight. 

Cowley also had his own hits that were celebrated in gay clubs around the globe, his songs include Menergy and Megatron Man. He also created an extralong remix of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love that ran for over 15 minutes, original pressings of the record as now highly sought after collectors items.

While on tour with Sylvester in 1981 Cowley began to feel increasingly unwell, upon his return to the United States doctors suggested he had food poisoning, but his health continued to deteriorate. After spending time in hospital he was discharged as doctors said they could no nothing more for him, he died at home on this day in 1982, aged 32. Cowley was one of the early victims of the AIDS pandemic.

While he only had a few mainstream successes during his lifetime, he has been cited as a major influence by many artists including New Order and the Pet Shop Boys. In the four decades since his death many of his lost recordings have been discovered and been released.

These include early experimental recordings and post-punk recordings, plus a number of disco-tinged tunes he created for gay porn films in the late 1970s.

OIP Staff, this post was first published in 2021. 

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