Sylvester James, 6 September 1947, Los Angeles, California, USA, d. 12 June 1988. Having moved to San Francisco in 1967, James joined the Cockettes, an androgynous theatrical group with whom he made his debut on New Years Eve 1970. He subsequently pursed a career as Ruby Blue before putting together the Hot Band with James Q. Smith (guitar), Bobby Blood (trumpet), Chris Mostert (saxophone), Kerry Hatch (bass) and Travis Fullerton (drums). The line-up later included vocalists Izora Rhodes and Martha Wash, later better known as the Weather Girls. Early recordings for Blue Thumb Records, coupled with an outrageous live show, secured James local reputation, but his discovery by former Motown Records producer Harvey Fuqua led to a much wider audience. In 1978 Sylvester scored two massive disco hits with You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Dance (Disco Heat), performances marked by an unswerving urgency and the singers soaring falsetto. The artist was adopted by the citys gay community, where later releases proved especially popular. Sylvesters excellent voice and skilled arrangements bestowed a lasting quality on his work, but he died of an AIDS-related illness in 1988. Jimmy Somerville subsequently recorded a version of Mighty Real as a tribute to this imaginative performers talent.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.