Gino Soccio was the one-man-band behind countless disco gems—until he vanished
From Issue 55.
About a month before thousands chanted “Disco sucks!” at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, Gino Soccio was ensconced in his Montreal studio, sipping coffee with cognac and laying down tracks for his second LP. Leaning against a twenty-four-channel mixing desk, Soccio spoke like a disco evangelist during a June 1979 interview with the Canadian Press: “Disco is more than just music. It’s a social movement, and I’m not jiving you when I say it’s spreading to epidemic proportions. It fills a demand for people who want to blow their minds dancing.”
Soccio had been blowing plenty of minds over the past year. His debut LP’s lead single, “Dancer,” had topped the Billboard disco charts for six weeks, propelling his LP Outline onto more than a million turntables globally. Slim and wide-eyed with a handlebar moustache and mane of dark hair, Soccio was immediately hailed as a disco auteur and a synth wizard. Trained in classical orchestration, Soccio created music that mixed the glamour of European disco with the gritty bottom-end of American R&B.
From 1978 to 1985, he released music at a blistering rate: four full-length albums and a clutch of 12-inches under his own name; singles and EPs under different monikers; production and writing for other artists; a motion picture soundtrack.
But shortly after a 1984 alleged Montreal police-brutality incident, Soccio vanished. There were rumors: He had lost his mind. He’d become a vagrant. He’d become a reclusive shut-in. While many believe Soccio is another disco-inferno-turned-dance-floor burnout, the untold truth about why one of the era’s singular talents abandoned his career is a tale of ego, conspiracy, and betrayal.