Disco 2003:
The Year in Review

Compiled by DiscoSavvy.com
on December 18, 2003


New disco songs continued to be recorded and released during 2003 just as they had been during the previous 10 years. Here are some of the year's highlights:

Mark Ronson created the disco track "High" for his otherwise rap album "Here Comes the Fuzz". This song features the vocal talent of Aya. Ronson worked in Philadelphia with Larry Gold, who had done the string arrangements for the 1979 disco hit "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden and Whitehead.

Michael Franti and Spearhead performed the disco song "Love Invincible" on the album "Everyone Deserves Music". Franti is a rapper from San Francisco, and he also made a mellow acoustic version of this song on his solo album "Songs from the Front Porch".

The Swedish group Alcazar released the nostalgic disco song "Last Days of Disco" on their album "Alcazarized", as well as "Dancefloor Docusoap" which samples from Chic's super classic "I Want Your Love".

John Scofield, a jazz guitarist who established a four-member band, used to hate disco and blame it for the downfall of funk and jazz, but recently he discovered that he really does like disco rhythms and grooves. This year, he released the jazzy disco tune "Freakin' Disco" on his album "Up All Night".

"Dimensions (I'm Happy)" by Mekkah featuring Stephen Granville was one of the new electro-disco songs of the year.

13-year-old Danish singer Jay-Kid resurrected the Jacksons' funk classic "Blame it on the Boogie" in his 2003 disco cover version.

Motown Records released a surprise disco song from its vaults, "Sweet Summertime Livin'" by Diana Ross. The song was recorded in 1977-1978 but not released before this year. It was included on the album "diana: Deluxe Edition". Listeners also finally got to hear the "Original Chic Mix" for Diana Ross's 1980 disco songs "I'm Coming Out", "Give Up", and "Tenderness".

Meanwhile, the 2001 metal-disco song "Danger! High Voltage" by Electric Six debuted at its peak position of number 2 on the British pop chart in January 2003. Electric Six is a band based in Detroit, Michigan.

The disco-pop song "Don't Stop Movin'" by S Club 7 was included on the "Radio Disney Jams 6" compilation CD.


Many disco artists and groups -- including Gloria Gaynor, Jamiroquai, BsB Disco Club, the Blue Notes, Chic, Thelma Houston, and the Trammps -- performed in concerts this year.

ABC aired a two-hour prime-time television show called "The Disco Ball...A 30-Year Celebration", featuring live performances by several disco artists, including Thelma Houston, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, Cheryl Lynn, the Trammps, the Village People, and Chic, on January 16, 2003. Usher sang "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now". The show was later rebroadcast on VH1.

Public television stations across the USA aired the concert special "American Soundtrack: Rhythm, Love and Soul" during 2003. Taped in November 2002 in Pittsburgh, the program features live performances by soul legends and disco greats like Gloria Gaynor (with "I Will Survive"), Lou Rawls (with "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"), The Hues Corporation (with "Rock the Boat"), and Thelma Houston (with "Don't Leave Me This Way").

The "Get Up 'N Dance" tour came to many American and Canadian locations during 2003, including Toronto, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The performers included the Trammps featuring Earl Young, Thelma Houston, Maxine Nightingale, Martha Wash (formerly of Two Tons O' Fun), Anita Ward, Bonnie and June Pointer (formerly of the Pointer Sisters), the Village People, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

K-BIG 104.3 FM's "Disco Fever II" music festival came to Hollywood, California on June 28, 2003. The performers included Maxine Nightingale, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, The Gap Band, Janice-Marie (of A Taste of Honey), Thelma Houston, Anita Ward, and Kathy Sledge (of Sister Sledge).

Over in the United Kingdom, audiences enjoyed the "Best Disco in Town 2003" show at Wembley Arena in London on October 10, 2003. The concert featured the disco artists Chic, Tavares, Shalamar, Rose Royce, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, The Real Thing, and Hot Chocolate.

Also in the U.K., in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Southend, and other towns, the disco-themed musical "Oh! What A Night" continued its successful run in 2003. The show's plot is set in 1976 and features live singing of over 35 disco classics -- including "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", "I Will Survive", "Celebration", and "Young Hearts Run Free" -- accompanied by choreographed dancing and exciting acting. It stars Kid Creole. During 2003, the musical was also performed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

The musical "Saturday Night Fever", based on the 1977 film, with thirty British singers and dancers in the cast, continued its run across England and Scotland in 2003.

The American TV game show "Family Feud" aired "Disco Fever Week" matches February 10-14, 2003 between the Village People and five disco divas: Freda Payne, Thelma Houston, Martha Wash of Two Tons O' Fun, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Janice-Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey.

Another American TV game show, "Pyramid", aired "Disco Week" shows April 28-May 2, 2003 with special guests Thelma Houston, Gloria Gaynor, Maxine Nightingale, Evelyn "Champagne" King, and K.C. (of the Sunshine Band).

The talent-search TV show "American Idol" aired disco-themed shows on April 1 and 2, 2003, which culminated in a group performance of Earth, Wind and Fire's classic "Boogie Wonderland".

An original electro-disco song with trumpets, bass, and keyboards and the lyrics "C'mon dance, dance with me tonight, you're out of sight" appeared on the "Mike Haspel" television commercial for Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, first aired in January 2003.

Verizon remade "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" for a TV commercial featuring a break-dancing James Earl Jones.

Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, hosted "Disco Night" on August 27, 2003, including a "Dugout Dance Off" contest.

The 3rd annual "World Disco Cruise 2003" in association with Carnival Cruise Lines got underway February 14-17, 2003 in and around Florida and the Bahamas. The cruise included disco dance contests and parties, workshops led by professional dance instructors, and many other activities.

The 3rd annual "World Hustle Dance Championships" were held July 24-27, 2003 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey. A "Van McCoy Regional Hustle Championship" was held in Denver on November 15th.

Dancers gathered at the "Hustle Jam" in Central Park in Manhattan on August 9th and 23rd to do the hustle to disco and salsa music.

The 8th Bicknell International Film Festival held in Bicknell, Utah on July 25-26, 2003 was themed "Disco De-Lux: Fine Films from America's Worst Fashion Decade!" Films screened included "Thank God It's Friday" (USA, 1978), "Saturday Night Fever" (USA, 1977), and "That's The Way I Like It" (Singapore, 1998). The Jamboni Brothers provided live disco music at the closing-night party.


On Saturday, November 1, 2003, WEBE 107.9 FM, a pop radio station in Westport, Connecticut, celebrated the tenth anniversary of their weekly Saturday night disco-oriented program, now called the "Saturday Night Dance Party". It launched on Saturday, November 1, 1993, and for ten years they have spun such disco songs as "Dr. Love" by First Choice, "Bad Luck" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, "Tangerine" by the Salsoul Orchestra, "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)" by Instant Funk, and "Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go)" by the Gibson Brothers, along with many others from artists ranging from the Brothers Johnson to Donna Summer to France Joli to Earth, Wind and Fire to Goody Goody... over 120 disco songs in all. They also play many funk, soul, proto-disco, '70s techno, and electro hits.


MGA Entertainment produced a popular "Bratz Formal Funk Super-Stylin' Runway Disco" multi-element toy for children which has (among other things) a miniature disco with flashing floor lights. This toy was mentioned and shown on the November 24, 2003 "Your World with Neil Cavuto" program on FOX News.


Disco diva Donna Summer's autobiography, "Ordinary Girl: The Journey", co-written with Marc Eliot, was published by Villard in October 2003.


The 1970s-themed multimedia museum exhibit "Disco: A Decade of Saturday Nights" continued at the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, Washington until September 2003. The exhibit showed disco artifacts (such as Earl Young's drum kit and a disco lunch box), photographs of the disco nightclub Studio 54, and many other visuals, and also provided audio and video stations and kiosks to showcase examples of '70s disco songs (both good and bad) and disco-themed films, commercials, and television programs, plus interviews with major personalities from '70s disco. There was even a dance floor where the DJ spun disco pop hits like "Funkytown".


Sadly, the disco world lost many great musicians this year.

Barry White, the baritone-bass soul singer and producer regarded as "the King of Disco" by some and "The Maestro" and "The Love Man" by others, died on July 4, 2003 at the age of 58. He is known for disco classics like "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (1974), "I'll Do For You Anything You Want Me To" (1975), "You See the Trouble with Me" (1976), and "How Did You Know It Was Me?" (1979).

Edwin Starr, another prominent classic soul singer, died on April 2, 2003 at the age of 61. His disco contributions included "Contact" (1978) and "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio" (1979).

Herbie Mann, the jazz flutist responsible for disco songs like "Hijack" (1975), "Superman" (1978), and "Yellow Fever" (1979), died on July 1, 2003 at the age of 73.

Tony Thompson, the stellar drummer of Chic from 1976 to 1983, died on November 12, 2003 at the age of 48. He performed on major disco hits by Chic including "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Le Freak" (1978), and "Good Times" (1979), as well as on Sister Sledge hits like "He's the Greatest Dancer" (1978) and "We Are Family" (1978), the Diana Ross hit "I'm Coming Out" (1980), and "Spacer" by Sheila and B. Devotion (1979).

Maurice Gibb, one of the three brothers comprising the Bee Gees, died on January 12, 2003 at the age of 53. The Bee Gees' own disco songs were "You Should be Dancing" (1976) and "Night Fever" (1977). Maurice Gibb also collaborated with Barry Gibb to write the lyrics "More than a Woman", which was performed disco-style by Tavares in 1977.

Prentice "Sean" Delaney, a keyboardist, producer, and songwriter, died on April 13, 2003 at the age of 58. He was a member of the disco group the Skatt Brothers that released the hit "Walk the Night" (1979).

Bebu Silvetti, a pianist, conductor, arranger, and producer, died on July 5, 2003 at the age of 59. He was best known in the disco world for the instrumental "Spring Rain" (1976).

Copyright ©2004 K. A. Brook, all rights reserved.

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