RIP Peter Rauhofer - Iconic DJ/Producer Passes, Leaving Rich Musical Legacy

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Peter Rauhofer with Madonna at the Roxy in 2005 (source)

Dance music lost one of its greatest today when the legendary Peter Rauhofer passed away at age 48 from the complications of brain cancer. The gifted Austrian-born and New York-based DJ, producer and remixer leaves fans with a rich legacy of music, dozens of remixes and critical-acclaim including a GRAMMY win for his remix of Cher's "Believe" in 2000. Rauhofer also leaves his extensive fan community with many nostalgic memories of sharing unforgettable nights of music with friends.

In a time that EDM is ruling the pop charts and selling out stadiums around the world, it may be hard to imagine for some that not-so-long ago house music was solely an underground phenomenon that was driven by a small group of DJs and their loyal following of fans. Cities like London, Berlin and New York City set the tone, and created a club culture that ultimately helped lay the foundation for the success of dance music today.

Rauhofer was one of the driving forces behind that movement. After working as a record store clerk in Vienna, he started his DJ career in the early '80s experimenting with everything from funk to rap, and from Acid to German New Wave. Rauhofer found his groove soaking up the sights and sounds of New York City, and the house music scene that emerged after disco faded. He concocted a sweeping blend of deep house, tribal rhythms with a hint of progressive that became his signature sound, and turned him into a true turntable idol.

One of Rauhofer's first big achievements was the release of Club 69's debut album, "Adults Only," in 1995 that featured the dance hit "Let Me Be Your Underwear." The success was followed by the number one dance hit "Much Better" in 1997. Rauhofer also established The Collaboration, a dance music partnership with his pal Victor Calerdone that released "Do It Properly" in 1999. Taking cues from his A&R work for GIG-BMG in Vienna, Rauhofer decided to launch his own independent record label, named Star 69, in 1999 to promote house and new dance music talent around the world.  

Rauhofer became a long-time DJ resident at the legendary club Roxy in New York City that helped to solidify his reputation as one of the nation's most influential house DJs. He played a remix of Donna Summer’s "Last Dance" twice before the club closed its doors forever in 2008 that marked the end of an era.

It was for good reason that Madonna decided to launch her "Confessions On A Dancefloor" project at the Roxy in 2005 to support her good friend Rauhofer. The two had a special bond, and the DJ ended up remixing many of the Queen of Pop's singles including "Nothing Really Matters," "Nothing Fails." "Mother & Father," "Miles Away," "American Life" and others.

Rauhofer's influential club nights, award-winning productions, A&R work, and remixes for Madonna and other pop stars add to a very long list of musical achievements that he will be always be known for. Rauhofer's music inspired joy and captured moments in time that many of his fans will remember with a great fondness. 

RIP Peter Rauhofer (1965-2013) 

May 7, 2013 in Obituary | Permalink

Remembering an Icon: What Donna Summer Really Meant to the World of Pop

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Once in a very rare while an artist comes along who changes the world of popular music. Someone who truly ups the ante, taps into a powerful sentiment and blazes a trail for many others to follow. Donna Summer was one of those rare, brilliant talents and remarkable artists whose legacy goes far beyond her string of hits and the well-deserved accolades she received throughout the years.

Summer's rise to fame as a pop superstar in the mid-'70s didn't just happen overnight. After growing up in Dorchester just outside of Boston, MA, the young church singer moved to New York City in 1967 to immerse herself in the city's burgeoning music scene. Showcasing a ferocious appetite for making music, Summer experimented with blues, rock and even some psychedelia inspired by her idol Janis Joplin. In the late '60s, she auditioned to perform in the musical Hair on Broadway, but she was awarded the part of the traveling cast of the show in Munich. It was her experience in Europe that helped Summer develop her unique and confident stage presence that proved to be a key ingredient to her success as a recording artist.

Looking back at her career and accomplishments, one of Donna Summer's biggest accomplishments is that she was without a doubt the first female pop superstar and dancefloor diva who paved the way for many other female artists who followed her trail in the late '70s and '80s. Artists like Madonna and Kylie Minogue have often named Summer as an inspiration. Not only for her music, but also for Summer's fine sense for commanding her audience on stage by injecting her performance with just the right amount of sizzle and sex appeal. Summer truly was the first pop music star to gently push female independence, empowerment and sexuality away from the fringe and into the mainstream spotlight.

But there were many other ground-breaking facets to Summer's career. In a contemporary pop world ruled by the holy trinity of producer, songwriter and their artist, Summer was one of the first pop stars to forge a powerful bond with producers and songwriters to create a hit-making, cross-over pop powerhouse.

Much like how Madonna early on teamed up with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard, Katy Perry found her groove with Dr Luke, and RedOne created Lady Gaga's global pop sound, Summer collaborated with dance music visionaries Georgio Moroder and Pete Bellote to pioneer a uniquely soulful disco sound that pushed the pop frontier forward. Using new electronic instruments, it was a new style of music that ushered in the glory days of '80s pop and successfully tapped into a sentiment that lingered throughout society in the '70s.

After the trauma of the Vietnam war, political turmoil and the ongoing nuclear threat, the trio of Summer, Moroder and Bellote (along with the support of Neil Bogart at his legendary Casablanca Records) created a fresh new, escapist pop sound that captured the mood of a generation. Disco let people forgot about the stress and uncertainties of their everyday lives with classics like "I Feel Love," "Macarthur Park," "Hot Stuff" and "Love To Love You Baby." 

On a personal note, I had a chance to spend some time with Donna Summer early on in my blogging career in 2003 to talk about her Greatest Hits compilation, the aptly-titled CD set "The Journey: The Very Best Of Donna Summer." Pleasant and very personable, Summer, the "Queen of Disco," struck me as an artist who never pursued music for fame or money.

With the words that she used and the stories that she told, it was instantly clear to me that this was a remarkably gifted woman who simply had an innate passion for music. She is a true star who was born to sing and entertain with her incredible voice that has lifted up generations. Donna Summer's legacy will live on forever with her timeless body of work that has made a lasting impact on the lives of people everywhere and the world of pop music at large. Donna Summer RIP.

May 18, 2012 in Obituary | Permalink