Alex Blaze

Queer Music Friday: Patrick Cowley

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 10, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: disco music, HIV/AIDS, Patrick Cowley, queer music

Patrick Cowley was born in Buffalo, New York, and moved to San Francisco in the 70's to study music, specifically synthesizers, which were the rage back in the day.

He's known for his work with Sylvester; I've previous posted a song he worked on with Sylvester. But he also did solo work. "Menergy" is the big his off his album Megatron Man, which is an interesting, high-tempo album if you're able to appreciate primitive electronica.

The following is not the album version of "Menergy," but a version with Sylvester that I found on YouTube:

Much more after the break.

Cowley focused the engineering side of music, although he did write some music. But DJ's are often at their most brilliant when they're remixing. Here's his remix of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" that's 100% Cowley:

This is a song he wrote, "Right on Target," performed by Paul Parker, who I didn't know was a disco stud until I found this video:

Cowley began feeling sick after his first album was released, before GRID had even been named. He released another album a year later, with "Mind Warp" on it, about his illness:

That same year, the song he produced that's probably the most famous, "Do You Wanna Funk?" was released. This is one of my all-time favorite songs, not just for Sylvester's amazing vocal performance, but also the chugga-chugga rhythmic guitar playing with the synths, the nexus between techno and disco that this song dances on.

Cowley died from HIV before AIDS was even adopted as the official name of the syndrome, as his musical career was just getting started.


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Honestly, who wouldn't want to funk with Sylvester... one of the most talented vocalists in American pop music? Cowley (along with Hibiscus...another SF original) was truly one of the great losses in the early, early part of the pandemic.

Aubrey Haltom | June 11, 2011 11:25 PM

I lived in SF in the 80s, and would see Sylvester (with Two Tons of Fun - Martha Walsh, Izora Armstead)at the I-Beam on Haight.
And I agree with you, Alex, re: Do You Wanna Funk. An excellent dance track. My favorite Sylvester tune.
Like too many people of that time, Cowley was gone too soon.