The legendary Dave Medusa, founder of the eponymous Chicago club Medusa’s and a promoter who in more than 30 years put nearly everyone on stage for a shot and inspired multiple generation of Chicago artists has passed away.

A Facebook post on his account from Miguel Ortuno revealed tonight that Dave Medusa “passed this week of natural causes, and we are just announcing this tonight as we wanted the family to be notified first.”

The superlatives really can’t go far enough when it comes to Medusa. To call Dave Medusa “a promoter” captures like 1% of the essence of what he accomplished.

No one less that Robert Williams, founder of The Warehouse and The Muzik Box where house music was born, dubbed Dave Medusa “a child of the Warehouse.” That means something. Here he is with other heads before, after or during a party in those days:

June, Judge, Dave Medusa, Alan Cherry, Robert Williams, Andre (?) and Darrell at the gas station @ 67th and Jeffrey

But it will be Medusa’s, the club, for which Dave Medusa will always be known.

Tommie Sunshine was at Medusa’s often enough to be confused with the furniture. He would later call it “the Chicago version of Dancetaria. That needs to be known. We didn’t have Mark Kamins DJing but we had the same kind of lunacy of walking into a room and hearing, of all things, opera – Maria Callas records being played in the chill out room”:

The main floor was dance music. You’d have Flea Circus or some other punk band on the 2nd floor, or the Digits if they were in town. The 3rd floor was video and you’ve got music by the Smiths, The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen. It was just fantastically eclectic. I was going to Medusa’s and then waiting in line for Guns N Roses tickets, seeing Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Ministry, Die Warzau at Metro, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult at the Riviera, going to a metal show and listening to BMX on the way home. This was not strange. It was my every day life.


Dave Medusa educated an entire generation in house music (and everything else) at Medusa’s. The most amazing thing is how many people decided, after stepping into that place, to pursue music and especially DJing as a career. It had a huge impact on Mark Farina, who later told me Medusa’s was the first time he saw a DJ mixing live, around the mid-1980s. Sean Hernandez, aka Chicago Skyway, described the impact it had:

Medusa’s has been very influential in everything I’ve done. The industrial scene, the House dancers – even the skinheads! It was every type of person meeting under one roof. And for the most part everyone getting along until they started playing some crazy music and people started making a mosh pit and fighting.


That was what the grown-ups missed. It also taught people about each other. Chicago was (and is) a highly segregated city; people from different communities rarely had opportunity to check each other out as they could at Medusa’s.

“I have known Dave for 23 years,” Miguel wrote, “and have had the honor to call him one of my best friends and one of the best people I know. He taught me so much and I will forever remember everything about him. I pulled up to the club tonight and just walking up to the building, I just broke down. Dave, I love you and will miss you so much”:

This is such a sad time and I know Dave had an amazing relationship with so many of you. Please do remember the best of him, please do continue to be kind to animals (emphasis on this… Dave LOVED his animals) and please continue to just live life free and fun. Take chances, dare to be different, express yourself, do what makes you happy…. Dave always wanted everyone to have an amazing time and although this is horribly sad, he would want everyone to remember the best memories of him and just be happy for all the great times you did enjoy together.


Memorial services are pending, but I hear there is an empty statue base in Grant Park right now.


Comments are closed.