It was with West End, founded in 1976, that Cheren aguably made a greater impact. The label's first release, Sesso Matto's "Sessomatto," was one of the first records spun by DJs (like Grandmaster Flash) as a backdrop for MCing. Several enduring club hits, such Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat" (the basis of Ini Kamoze's "Here Come the Hotstepper" and Musiq Soulchild's "B.U.D.D.Y") and Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face," were also the result of Cheren's vision and energy.
Cheren found out that he was HIV positive only a few weeks ago, which he addressed in this very recent video interview for CBS News on Logo. One of the first and most generous AIDS activists, he organized several fundraisers and donated his New York City brownstone to Gay Men's Health Crisis. He founded 24 Hours for Life and was a charter member of LIFEbeat's board of directors.
A brief overview of the Cheren's career in the form of a playlist:
- Patti Jo - Make Me Believe in You
- Ultra High Frequency - We're on the Right Track
- B.T. Express - Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)
- Jesse Green - Nice and Slow
- Sesso Matto - Sessomatto
- Karen Young - Hot Shot
- Taana Gardner - Work That Body
- Loose Joints - Is It All Over My Face
- Taana Gardner - Heartbeat
- Stone - Time
- Peech Boys - Don't Make Me Wait
Here is the extended trailer for The Godfather of Disco, a documentary about Cheren featuring interviews with Danny Krivit, Red Alert, Marley Marl, and Blaze's Kevin Hedge (also the president of West End). The documentary was inspired by My Life and the Paradise Garage, Cheren's autobiography, published in 2000. It's one of a few books published during the last several years -- along with Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, Love Saves the Day, and Turn the Beat Around -- that has helped reverse the widespread perception of disco music as a bloodless short-lived fad.