/ MEL CHEREN (January 21, 1933 - December 7, 2007)
Reknowned founder and previous owner of Colonial House
Affectionately known as “The Godfather of Disco”
for his championing of DJ’s, dance music and
club culture from the early days of the Disco Movement,
Mel began his five decade career in the music business
at ABC/Paramount, where he eventually became Head
held the same position when he moved to Scepter Records.
During his tenure at Scepter he was responsible for
many innovations such as the first 12 inch record
for DJ’s and the first instrumental mix on the
B-side, earning Scepter the “Trendsetter of
the Year” Award from Billboard in 1974. With
a former Scepter colleague he formed his own company,
End Records in 1976, which has been associated
for over 30 years with enduring dance classics like
“Hot Shot” and “Heartbeat.”
In recent years West End released popular compilation
CD’s of remixes and live performances by legendary
Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan.
was the financial backer of the landmark club created
by his former life-partner Michael Brody. This history
is well documented in Cheren’s autobiography,
MY LIFE AND THE PARADISE GARAGE: KEEP ON DANCIN’
published in 2000 and in a recent documentary, G.O.D.
THE GODFATHER OF DISCO.
2005, Mel was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of
Fame with their Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor
which meant a great deal to him. For all of his accomplishments
in the music industry, Mel was most proud of his work
in support of various causes and charities and in
particular his efforts in support of the LGBT Community
and the fight against AIDS. He was part of the vanguard
of gay men who first responded to the AIDS crisis
in New York in the early Eighties and gave GMHC their
first home in his Chelsea brownstone which he later
operated for over 20 years as a successful bed-and-breakfast,
the Colonial House Inn. He was the founder of 24 Hours
For Life, an AIDS charity that was the fiscal sponsor
for LIFEbeat, on whose Board he served as a Charter
Director. Mel was also quietly a friend to many friends
and strangers in need as well as an accomplished painter.
A large number of Mel’s works of art memorialize
friends lost to AIDS.
is a sad irony that he is a fatality of the same health
crisis that he fought so long to eradicate. Even in
his last days he took a stand for AIDS prevention
in a cautionary interview aired on the LOGO channel
throughout the week of World AIDS Day. Mel Cheren
is survived and will be greatly missed by many family
members, prominent among them being Illya Dekhtyar,
Mark Cheren and Barry Cherin, as well as a large extended
family of close friends, colleagues and fellow activists.