Disco pioneer, eclectic composer and one of Allen Ginsberg’s many lovers, Arthur Russell, will be commemorated at a special event to be held on Cockatoo Island on Saturday, March 20.

Tapes of Thought, a new documentary on Russell, will be screened on the night before musicians and DJs perform covers of and odes to his work.

Russell was an accomplished, if not slightly unusual, classical composer. He became a leading light in the 1970s New York art and theatre scene, after taking over the direction of the experimental theatre space The Kitchen — which he controversially used to host burgeoning New York punk bands (possibly inspired by his flatmate Richard Hell of the Voidoids).

His always intrepid taste later turned to the disco scene bubbling up from the clubs and gay bars of Soho. Forming Dinosaur L, he merged a punk spirit with dance music, producing seminal hits “Is It All Over My Face” and “Go Bang” before becoming a producer and founder of Sleeping Bag Records, one of the first ‘dance labels’.

His life — which ended in 1993 after he contracted AIDS — and ongoing influence as an artist will be celebrated throughout the day and evening on March 20.

Performers Kirin J Callinan, Lovely Head and Luke Bacon will perform, as will a range of DJs.

Entry is free.

info: Starts 2pm. For information on getting to Cockatoo Island, visit http://www.cockatooisland.gov.au/camping/information.html

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