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Disco Legend Sylvester Remembered With Musical and Rainbow Honor Walk Plaque

Sylvester, 1979.
Max Redfern/Redferns

Sylvester performing in the UK.

It’s been almost 26 years since disco legend Sylvester passed away, but his legacy is having a huge moment right now. As the curtains prepare to open tonight (Sep. 5) on Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical, an off-Broadway musical in New York, visitors to San Francisco’s Castro District are enjoying the late singer’s newly-unveiled space on the Rainbow Honor Walk. He is the only musician to be a part of the latter, a hall of fame type series of plaques honoring gay icons such as Oscar Wilde and Frida Kahlo.

Mighty Real creators Anthony Wayne (who wrote, directed and stars in the musical) and Kendrell Bowman (co-director and costume designer), who are partners in life as well, draw deep inspiration from how Sylvester lived his life.

The timing of this coast-to-coast recognition is simply serendipitous, not the result of strategic planning. Wayne and Bowman reveal that they learned about Sylvester just a few years ago, when TV One aired a documentary about the singer in 2011. And the Rainbow Honor Walk has also been more than three years in the making.

 Sylvester Rainbow Walk

Sylvester's plaque on San Francisco's Rainbow Honor Walk

“I certainly think Sylvester has been given love and recognition in many ways since his untimely passing,” says Sergio Fedasz, a DJ and event promoter who will hold his third annual tribute to Sylvester in San Francisco on September 6 via his club night Go BANG! “Understandably, since he has been an icon for free expression and gay liberation, he was one of our great icons who sadly succumbed to the symptoms of AIDS, and he was so vital in San Francisco's disco heritage including Hi-NRG, which is a predecessor of house music. He's been appreciated for a good while. But I think that since the anniversary of his passing was 25 years ago last year, which prompted reissues and a more widely-popular recognition of his accomplishments, this has led to a fortunate coincidental grouping of circumstances this year.”