Jim Burgess (producer)
James Michael Burgess (July 21, 1953– January 18, 1993) was a disco record producer and New York DJ of the 1970s, and was variously referred to as "one of the hottest DJ's and Remixers of the Disco era"
He remixed and produced numerous disco versions of popular songs, with a number of them being million sellers. His most successful and best known production was Alicia Bridges' I Love the Nightlife, which has become a "Disco standard". First released in 1978, it went to number five on the Billboard charts, and was given a new lease of life with its use in the 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other extremely successful productions include:
Burgess was born on July 21, 1953 in Okeechobee, Florida. He trained as a classical tenor and opera singer, and had "an amazing ear". He started as a DJ in Florida in the early-mid 1970s and then "moved on to Limelight, a gay club in Atlanta" where he was "discovered" by Tony Martino and Alan Harris, the owners of the New York club 12 West.
Burgess's popularity was attributed not only to his style and technique, but a love for theatrical effects and elements, which developed from his love of opera. He would frequently create his own "sound scenes" by using the dialogue from well-known film scenes over the break of a record - as well as attentuating the effect through long mixes and sophisticated blending.
Burgess chose to end his career at age 28 with a farewell party at the Saint on 31 January 1981. During the party, he famously walked out at the peak of the night and let the record run out. Afterwards Sharon White took over for the rest of the evening. Nevertheless, he still did subsequent infrequent gigs in New York, and started playing regularly at the Saint again in 1986. His actual last gig according to his partner was at The Ice Palace in 1989.
After commuting back and forth from NY to Philly, in 1987 he made the move to Philadelphia to pursue his first ambition, opera singing.
In Philadelphia he studied voice at the Curtis Institute of Music. He sang with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Rittenhouse Opera Society, and appeared as Florestan in Beethoven's "Fidelio" at the Lake George Opera Festival in New York and as Siegfried and Parsifal with the Liederkranz Society of New York, which awarded him first prize in its Wagner Competition.
Although he was never diagnosed with AIDS, he took ill soon after Labor Day in 1992. It was then that he was informed of his HIV status. His illness progressed very quickly and he died of Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, an AIDS-related opportunistic infection four months after taking ill, on 18 January 1993 at his home in Philadelphia. He was survived by his partner, Martin Dillon, his sister, Dawn Burgess-Krop of Gainesville, Fl, and his brother, Jonathan, of Asheville, N.C.
- http://www.discomusicpeople-more/45_0_11_0_C/ John Celiga interview
- Love saves the day: A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970-79, Tim Lawrence, 2003, Duke University
- Last Night a Dj Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton, Grove Press, 2000
References and notes
- Jim Burgess Bio, www.disco-disco.com, accessed 2008-07-20.
- "Moulton, Gibbons and their contemporaries (Jim Burgess, Tee Scott, and later Larry Levan and Shep Pettibone) at Salsoul Records proved to be the most influential group of remixers for the disco era. The Salsoul catalog is seen (especially in Great Britain and Europe) as being the "canon" for the disco mixer's art form." For more information see Remix#Roots of the remix and Disco#Production and development.
- NY Disco Clubs, www.disco-disco.com, accessed 2008-07-20.
- Death notice, NYTIMES, 25 January 1993, accessed 2008-07-20.
- Discography, www.discogs.com, accessed 2008-07-23
- Jim Burgess bio, www.discomuseum.com, accessed 2008-07-23 Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine