1) Sylvester James (September 6, 1944 in Los Angeles, California - December 16, 1988 in San Francisco, California) was an American disco and soul musician, and a gay drag performer. Known for singing in falsetto (and occasionally a rich baritone voice), he is also considered one of the first Hi-NRG artists. His grandmother was the jazz singer Julia Morgan. He performed under his first name only, Sylvester. ...show more
1) Sylvester James (September 6, 1944 in Los Angeles, California - December 16, 1988 in San Francisco, California) was an American disco and soul musician, and a gay drag performer. Known for singing in falsetto (and occasionally a rich baritone voice), he is also considered one of the first Hi-NRG artists. His grandmother was the jazz singer Julia Morgan. He performed under his first name only, Sylvester.
Living in San Francisco in the 1960s, he performed in a musical production called Women of the Blues, then joined a short-lived group of transvestite performance artists called The Cockettes in the early 70's (famed transvestite Divine was a member of the group as well). Sylvester can be seen in The Cockettes' outrageous short film Tricia's Wedding, lampooning the wedding of President Nixon's daughter Tricia, and in an eponymous 2002 documentary about the group. In 1972, Sylvester supplied two cuts to Lights Out San Francisco, an album complied by the KSAN radio station and released on the Blue Thumb label. In 1973, Sylvester & his Hot Band released two rock-oriented albums on Blue Thumb (their self-titled debut was also known as "Scratch My Flower," due to a gardenia-shaped scratch-and-sniff sticker adhered to the cover).
Signed a solo act to Fantasy Records in 1977, and working with the production talents of legendary Motown producer Harvey Fuqua. Sylvester later alleged that Fuqua cheated him out of millions of dollars. Sylvester soon met his frequent collaborator Patrick Cowley. Cowley's synthesizer and Sylvester's voice proved to be a magical combination, and pushed Sylvester's sound in an increasingly dance-oriented direction; his second solo album - Step II (1978) - unleashed two disco classics: "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," and "Dance (Disco Heat)." By this time both his live shows and recordings also recognizably featured the back-up vocals of Two Tons O' Fun: future Weather Girls Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes. ...show less
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