The Automatic Pilot story - part 0
by Karl Brown

What Automatic Pilot built upon

Much has been written about famous gay musicians throughout history. The arts community has traditionally had a gay culture. While the question of whether there is such thing as "gay music" has been long discussed and is far form settled, there very definitely does exist a gay musical scene, consisting of gay performers creating shows specifically for gay audiences, often in gay venues.

Early examples include Berlin shortly before the Nazi era. In San Francisco in the 1950's, Jose Sarria sang God Bless Us Nellie Queens at the Black Cat, and drag shows have a long tradition.

From the 1960's underground came the Cockettes, who presented gay musicals at the Palace Theater in North Beach and evolved into the Angels of Light. Theater companies such as Theater Rhinoceros followed.

In the 1970s, disco was marketed specifically to gay people, and such gay stars as Sylvester, Patrick Cowley, and the Village People were born.

The organized gay musical movement started with the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band who made their debut at the gay parade in June 1978. San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus first sang in public November 27, 1978, the night George Moscone and Harvey Milk were shot, but there were (gay) Metropolitan Community Church choirs even before that. More gay bands, choruses, and dance troupes followed.

There was not much going on in the way of gay rock bands at the time. Notable exceptions were "White Night Riot" by Jai J. Noire, and Jon Sugar's "Gay Type Thang". Buena Vista had played at numerous gay events in the 1970's. Modern jazz was nonexistent on San Francisco's gay stages, although swing and traditional jazz were well represented by the Gay Freedom Band and David Kelsey.

Our musical influences are described in the AP sound page

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