Sylvester learned three months ago that he has AIDS, and he has spent most of the last few weeks at home, trying to regain his strength.
While often plagued by fatigue, the singer, 40, was well enough last June to lead a gay pride parade in San Francisco, albeit from a wheelchair.
“I can’t walk very well anymore,” he said in a phone interview. “I have problems with my feet and sometimes the pain is unbearable. But I don’t like to take pain killers because of the side effects.”
Despite the physical setbacks, Sylvester insists that his outlook remains positive.
“I’ve been in situations I shouldn’t have been in. We all have. But I still think that I’m a good person and I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life,” he said.
“Down the line, I hope I won’t be in a lot more pain. But I don’t dwell on that. I’ll be fine, because my spirit is fine.”
Sylvester says that while black people are 12% of the population, more than 25% of all reported AIDS cases in this country involve blacks.
“It bothers me that AIDS is still thought of as a gay, white male disease,” said the singer, who has long been openly frank about his homosexuality.
“The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we’ve been so hard hit by this disease. I’d like to think that by going public myself with this, I can give other people courage to face it.”
Sylvester, who rose to international fame during the late ’70s with such disco hits as “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real,” had been hospitalized three times before being diagnosed as having the AIDS virus.
“I’d been having throat problems and I thought it was bronchitis. I wasn’t worried. Having AIDS hadn’t even crossed my mind.”
Since that time he has spent five weeks in a hospital with pneumocystis, during which time he confronted his own mortality. “I was ready to go,” he said. “I made peace with that and I never thought, ‘Why me?’ I just accepted it.”
“Caravan Tonight’ is the first Gay love song ever released by a major record label.
“And if the freedom your heart embraces Is nothing but a vision in the sand Oh I’ll be waiting here I’ll be your oasis I’ll be your promised Your promised land”
Rolling Stone wrote in a review of Caravan Tonight: “His (Grossman’s) vision is every bit as compelling as those of such brilliant mid-Atlantic provincials as Elliott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen. . . . Most important is the purity of Grossman’s sensibility. His communication of intense compassion, honesty and tenderness so eclipses the imperfections inevitable in the work of such a young artist (he’s only 22) that the greatest emotional impact of his Caravan is staggering, its appeal to the finest human values universal.” — Stephen Holden, RS 161 (May 23, 1974)
Rolling Stone also worried that the album would not get the play it deserved by radio stations because of the subject.
It is almost impossible to find ‘Caravan Tonight’ today..
Culture Catch offers this bit of biography: “Steven Grossman was born in 1952 in Brooklyn. He initially toyed with being an actor, planning to study at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in New York while working at Coney Island during the summer to raise funds. He was a “stab and bagger,” a garbage collector on the beach.
Caravan Tonight was Steven Grossman’s only major release.
I ran into this personal account about Steven on the Steven Grossman Tribute page and decided to post an excerpt because it captures the political sensibility that shaped the lives of many of the young and politically active gay men of the early 1970’s.
“I knew Steven in Brooklyn roundabout 1971, having been a Brooklynite myself. I had just come out over the previous year or so and was now living in a gay collective in the Boerum Hill. The house rule was that we put everything we owned and all the income we came upon into the collective treasury. My friends were mostly veterans of GLF. We lived in a 3 story brownstone with a storefront. So we had a teahouse we opened two nights a week. “The Estate Project
Non-alcoholic tea-house dances were alternatives to the bars and bath houses that Gay Liberation saw as expressions of homophobia.
Steven Grossmanwas born in 1952.
He died in 1991 at the age of 39 of AIDS related complications.
He is now part of U.S. History and the history of the ongoing movement for human rights.
All songs by Steven Grossman:
Five O’clock Song
Song To Bonnie
Song To That M&M Man
You Don’t Have To Be Ashamed
Many Kinds Of Love
Circle Nine Times
Dry Dock Dreaming
Produced by Bobby Flax and Lanny Lambert Steven Grossman, acoustic guitar and vocals – Vinny Fuccella, acoustic lead and electric guitar – Andy Muson, bass – Jimmy Young, drums – Chris Dedrick, keyboards and recorder – George Devens, congas and percussion – Eric Weissber, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel guitar – Steven, Bobby, Lanny, and The Free Design, background vocals. Horns and strings arranged and conducted by Chris Dedrick.
Recorded December 1973 and January 1974 at Sound Ideas Studios, New York.
I do not own the images on this page though I did re-edit them.