Shortly before his 1988 death due to AIDS, the late disco legend Sylvester bequeathed future royalties to local AIDS groups but died deeply in debt so there was no money to distribute. But now, some 21 years after the death of Sylvester James, two San Francisco-based AIDS service organizations are sharing $140,000 in music royalties from his estate.
It turned out that disco, had in fact, never really died and the use of Sylvester's songs, either on the radio, in movies, or on television, had produced a steady stream of revenues. Beginning in the late 1990s Sylvester's royalty checks had paid off what the singer owed and the rest of the earnings had been placed in an account. ... The advent of iTunes helped introduce Sylvester's music to a new generation and the online sales of his songs brought in cash to the estate. Hollywood also continued to option his songs, most famously for a scene in the Oscar-winning Milk that depicted Sylvester performing at a birthday party for openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. The two were friends and Sylvester was a regular performer at Milk's annual Castro Street fairs."
The royalties benefit AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand. "The amounts per song can vary from a few cents when a person downloads a track to $10,000 for it to be used in a movie", BAR reports. Project Open Hand says the money will be designated for the 1,000 HIV positive clients it feeds everyday. The $34,000 it received last week will pay for 13,000 meals.
Now this is mighty real. Something tells me that Sylvester is smiling under that big disco ball in the sky.