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Mel Cheren

1933-2007

A.k.a. Melvin Cheren

Born January 21, 1933 in Everett, Massachusetts and raised in Revere - Died December 07, 2007 C.E. --- Former Financial Backer of the Paradise Garage, C.E.O. of West End Records, Trendsetter, Owner of Colonial House Inn, Founder and President 24 Hours For Life Foundation, Philanthropist, Painter. Mel Cheren began his career in the music business in 1959 at ABC-Paramount Records (ABC Records) where he eventually became head of the label's production department. When the company moved operations to Los Angeles in 1970, Cheren left to become head of production for Scepter Records where he forged new territory: forming an early record pool (David Mancuso, Vince Aletti and Steve D'Aquisto inititated the very first one) and the first to release instrumental mixes on 12" B-sides… When Scepter closed in 1976, Mel co-founded West End Records and soon after signed Karen Young, whose single "Hot Shot" sold 800,000 copies making it one of the biggest selling 12" in history. Though respected for his record label, Cheren was loved by many for making possible one of the world's most revered nightclubs: Paradise Garage. He was the financial backer for the club which was owned and operated by his former partner, Michael Brody. Cheren's relationship with the club's influential DJ Larry Levan blossomed, resulting in some of the most memorable records to come out of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Cheren was a very dedicated AIDS awareness activists in the US, in 1982 he became very actively involved with the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). Cheren's philanthropic efforts remained an integral part of his life and in 1987 he formed 24 Hours For Life, a not-for-profit organization of media and music professionals which produced fundraising events for AIDS relief and education. Cheren is also an accomplished painter. His art works has been featured on ten different album covers (including John Lee Hooker's "Urban Blues" and Sonny Rollins's "East Broadway Run Down"), five of these were nominated for Grammy Awards. Other paintings, many lit by black lights to bring out the fluorescent paint, lined the halls of his B&B, which remains open. All profits from his paintings goes to charity. Summer 2000 saw the release of Cheren's autobiographycal book "Keep On Dancin' (My Life and The Paradise Garage)". In the book's prologue, he wrote, "This is a story of my gay generation, the world we built, and the world we lost.". In 2007, "The Godfather of Disco" a documentary film adaptated from the above autobiographic book recount, through a series of interviews with keys figures of the dance music community, Cheren's extraordinary life story. The film was first screened at the 25th Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, where it took home the 2007 Emerging Filmmaker Award. Mel Cheren died of AIDS complications.

  
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