Sunday, May 30, 2010

Road trip: Passaic, N.J.

Never went there, but the relentless radio announcements I remember hearing in its heyday sure made it sound like a happening spot.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Muni-ficent moss-gathering

SCOTT MUNI'S ROLLING STONE--304 E. 48th Street, near Second Avenue. Full disclosure: Scott Muni is one of the very few music biz/radio legends that I've personally encountered--but not in the way a fangirl-type would typically like to interact with someone of his stature. Back in the early '90s I did an internship at WNEW-FM--an enjoyable experience, but one which disavowed me of any notion that I was cut out for a career in commercial media. (I understand the station is now defunct on the FM dial, but has been resuscitated via HD2 and the internet.) I can recall being told on the very first day, "Don't talk to Scott, he doesn't like interns." So I never did, and I'd kinda cower and give him a wide berth if I ever happened to pass him in the hallways. I did get sent downtown to Venus Records a few times to pick up some imports for his "Things From England" segments, but dealt only with his very nice secretary in those instances.

It's not as if I ever would have approached him anyway--I'm a rather shy, "don't speak unless spoken to" type, especially around "celebs." But if he'd deigned to give me the time of day--and I must say, everyone else there, including the other on-air talent, did so willingly and welcomingly--he'd have known I probably had more knowledge of and respect for his career than your typical intern. And what was his problem anyway--did he think we were just some troublesome flaming hookie-dookie whippersnappers out to usurp his position as the Professor of Rock & Roll?

So although I've long had his nightclub on my list of places to investigate, given my understandably tainted perceptions of the man, perhaps I've subconsciously been a little reluctant to fully engage in that endeavor. But I happened to get a little note from Left Banke bassist/international disc-jockeying man of mystery Tom Finn a few days ago, which helped encourage the pursuit. (Um, squee!!??!! Sorry, I don't mean to come across as an inveterate name-dropper...we've merely chatted a few times on facebook ever since he and webmistress Charlemagne started a fab Left Banke facebook page.) "Hey, I hear you're into New York sixties clubs. Ever hear of a place called the Rolling Stone?" I can only guess he must have seen the Wolfgang's Vault article and noticed I'd left it out--quite inadvertently, I assure you. But enough of my personal palaver...clearly this was a sign from the universe that it was time to take on Scottso's domain!

Unfortunately, details about the club have not been abundantly forthcoming--and the fact that it shares the name of a certain ridiculously well-exposed band didn't make the search any easier. I was initially skeptical about how deep Muni's financial interests in it were, but since he was somewhat between radio gigs at the time, it seems plausible that he could have been the actual owner, at least in part. According to his wikipedia entry (corroborated by a article on the WMCA Good Guys), "In 1965, Muni left WABC and ran the Rolling Stone Night Club while doing occasional fill-in work for WMCA." And in a fine tribute to Muni from, Ray D'Ariano writes:

Muni left WA-Beatle-C. Over the next few years Muni did overnight fill-in work at WMCA and he found another night shift gig. On the New York rock scene it was the era of the Hammond B3 organ and the blue-eyed soul bands made popular by The Rascals. The Hassles featuring a young Billy Joel, The Pigeons who would become famous as The Vanilla Fudge, and The Vagrants with guitarist Leslie West played at a slew of rock clubs known as discotheques. There was The Phone Booth, Cheetah, Ungano's, and a club on East 48th where The Vagrants were the house band, Scott Muni's Rolling Stone.

Muni was a Scotch aficionado who had the ability to function flawlessly even after imbibing. One evening there was a brawl on the street out front. He intervened and discouraged the participants from continuing their aggressive behavior so close to his establishment. He did it with fewer words than the last sentence. A short while later he felt ill. He went home early only to twist and turn all night with a harsh pain in his lower back. The ex-Marine toughed it out, but was shaken the next morning when he awoke to see his sheets covered in blood. During a sober investigation he realized he had been stabbed while breaking up the fight. Later that night he was back on stage with the Vagrants. It was only rock and roll.

I've pored over the streetsyoucrossed bookshelf in search of equally atmospheric references, but so far the literature has yielded only two minuscule mentions.

From Andy Warhol's and Pat Hackett's Popism: The Warhol Sixties (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980) From the Gymnasium we usually went on to a discotheque called the Rolling Stone, and then to Trude Heller's new place on Broadway and 49th, a few blocks down from Cheetah--"Sweet Soul Music" was the big song at all the clubs--and soon after this, Salvation opened down on Sheridan Square, so there were suddenly all these new places to go.

[Wait--there was a second Trude Heller's uptown?] [UPDATE 5/31/2010: Apparently so. I just saw a tidbit about it in the April 27, 1967 issue of the Village Voice: "And uptown, Trude Heller opened a new discotheque. Most amazingly dressed was six foot plus model Donyale Luna." A pic of her dress was printed on the front page but the reproduction in the Google archives is not very clear.]

And from Clay Cole's Sh-Boom: The Explosion of Rock & Roll (NY: Morgan James, 2009): I was told when I was auditioning dancers, I rejected both Geri Miller and Goldie Hawn. Geri was now a go-go girl at the Rolling Stone club, the girl with her legs in the air on its famous swing. Geri was overly ripe at a time when the Twiggy-look was all the rage...As Dominique, she became one of Andy Warhol's underground film stars, then a super-groupie, a topless dancer and finally a porn star. [Hey, she was in a band for a spell too y'know! Not quite finished with this book yet, but if I come across more R.S. references in it I'll let you know.]

A couple of tasty gossip column items from 1965 turned up via the Google News Archives. I jotted them down verbatim, but didn't copy the links when I first found them. As of this writing the articles are not turning up, so I cannot back up these quotes with visual proof and linkage...but hey, would I lie to you about this stuff?

Earl Wilson, N.Y. Post, September 17, 1965 (as syndicated to another city's Herald-Tribune): The washroom at the Rolling Stone discotheque features a blackboard and chalk. The sign reads, "We don't wish to repress creative talent, so if you must write, write here."

Dorothy Kilgallen, N.Y. Journal-American, October 12, 1965 (as syndicated to the Toledo Blade): Disc jockey Scott Muni, who scored with the Rolling Stone discotheque, has a table set aside for his colleagues. It's equipped with the latest music trade publications, a list of the top 40 records, and a pretty girl whose job is to see that their requests are played first. [As a What's My Line? fanatic, I can't help but notice this column was published less than a month before Kilgallen's mystery-shrouded death.]

Since Tom Finn inspired this post, I asked him if I could pick his brain for Rolling Stone synapses, and he graciously obliged.

I first went to the Rolling Stone with Mick Wexler who was the writer, singer and guitarist for The Magic Plants. Warren Sherhorst and I signed on after the record "I'm A Nothing." Anyway Mick was a Mick Jagger imposter. Back in late '65 a lot of people didn't know what Jagger looked like. So we went to The Rolling Stone. Mick was wearing a big pair of sunglasses at night in a already darkened nightclub, and he sported a heavy Cockney accent...Everybody knew he wasn't Jagger, but he insisted anyway. So I saw The Vagrants perform, and WOW! What a production! I had never heard a group play with so much volume and production. I was impressed--I didn't think they were a recording type of group, but live they were amazing. So when we were leaving Mick tripped over a little rise on the floor, and fell on his face. I remember people saying what's the matter Mickey Boy. They ridiculed him. But he deserved it. Imagine dark glasses. I thought The Club was pretty big compared to Ondine or The Scene. It looked like a fancy type of place.

Well, the Vagrants seem as appropriate a band as any to head our short list of R.S. notables. I haven't tracked down any dates, but I gather this was their main Manhattan showplace in '65 and '66. Check out pages 3 and 4 of the photo gallery on the splendid for some visual evidence. I won't steal those pics, but I'm compelled to purloin their copy of an R.S. flyer.

The Yardbirds played there on September 17, 1965--the club's biggest international booking that I know of. (Pic came from

I was hoping the Billboard archives would hold at least as many items on the Rolling Stone as it did for the Phone Booth, but I managed to find only two: for the Seven of Us ("a new vocal combo") in the November 6, 1965 issue, and for the Bit'a Sweet ("a new rock-soul group") in the June 4, 1966 one.

A British Beach Boys site reveals this tidbit involving '70s B.B. pianist Carlos Munoz: "From 1965 to 1968, Muñoz led a rock band with Jorge Calderón called The Living End, a.k.a. Space (jazz-rock band); they were the house band at Scott Muni´s Rolling Stone and released a single album, Space (Capitol Records)." (It's a long shot, but I wonder if Carlos was at all related to Scott, whose real name was Donald Allen Munoz.)

In an interview with Ugly Things editor-in-chief Mike Stax, Peter Sando discusses how his band the Rahgoos fit the scene: "Most of the uptown Discotheques were dominated by Rascal-clone bands like the Rich Kids, the Vagrants, and the Pilgrims. We were not immune to that as we converted to a B3 sound when we played at the Rolling Stone and Phone Booth...but as the band progressed, we were falling into the Rascal sound too much." Lineup changes and a gradual evolution toward psychedelia led the band to change their name to Gandalf--apparently inspired by a copy of The Hobbit that drummer David Bauer happened to be reading one night backstage at the Rolling Stone. offers profiles on two bands who played there, the Teemates (later renamed the Kickers after their second manager's involvement with the N.Y. Jets) and a Dallas band called Truth. And Mike Patalano of the Others--famed among caveteens for "Can't Stand This Love, Goodbye"--gave some nice recollections to Fancy Magazine. (Be sure to check out the great pic of the club's front sign: "Come in tux or tights and give our girls in the swings a push...two dance floors, no cover, no minimum.")

Bob Marshall became our manager. He got us a gig at the Rolling Stone Discotheque in NYC at the corner of 48th and 2nd Ave. that summer of 65. We were the house band and played six nights a week, half hour on, half hour off, 9 pm to 3am. We all got paid a couple hundred dollars a week. We had lines of people around the block for hours waiting to get in. It was owned by Scott Muni. He would stop in and introduce us to the crowd every once in a while. We had a blast—Met David Winters, the dancer from West Side Story, and Gene Pitney there. There were go-go girls, and a swing. Afterwards we would be invited to parties all over the city. It was wild.

Apparently there is now a karaoke bar and a parking garage at the address. But folks, I'm afraid that's about all the info I've been able to find so far! Please don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have any recollections or facts of your own to share--this skimpy post could sure use 'em!

UPDATE 9/24/2010:  Bob Polhemus of Bobby and the Teemates sent this great shot of them playing at Scott Muni's Rolling Stone. "His club the Rolling Stone was one of the hottest gigs I ever played...The place was like a celebrity gathering with every soon to be legend of rock visiting...The picture is us The Teemates--Me second from left. We were the house band there the first week he opened the club. We were there a month followed by the Vagrants, with the Yardbirds doing a set every now and then along with Eric Burdon, Chas, The Gentrys. Opening night there was a line stretching up 48th Street to Second Avenue...Barry Oslander was the Sound Engineer there, and co-produced our LP "Jet Set Dance"...This was our last week there. Scott was furious we gave up our Beatles squeaky-clean look for these striped shirts. Cancelled our contract--Vagrants followed...The picture above was taken shortly after the Teemates changed their name under new management with a guy by the name of Bill Blackburn who was associated with the New York Jets--thus the name 'Kickers." I believe this was our last week at Scott's, after which the Vagrants or another Band followed us in."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cross-referenced coolness

If you're any sort of an NYC history or NYC rock & roll geek worth your salt (or a Minneapolis-area metal/punk concert review-readin' maniac for that matter), you should probably read This Ain't the Summer of Love in its entirety. But at the very least, you need to be hip to its posts on '70s NYC rock venue history, which plumb depths that this humble blog does not dare fathom. Here's a handy-dandy list of links to the places NYCDreamin' has covered thus far:

I don't know how he does it, but I'm so glad he does!!! And it's great to know there's a kindred spirit out there who's even more obsessed with tracking down such minutiae than I am. He also found some fun memorabilia on Trude Heller's, the Electric Circus, Club 82, the Cafe au Go Go, and the Cheetah. But seriously, take the time to absorb his entire site--you won't be sorry!

Speaking of '70s clubs, check out the facebook photo album of interior shots taken by N.Y. Rocker lensman Steve Lombardi. There's a link to one of his Max's pics in NYCDreamin's post, but the entire album is worth perusing for rare glimpses inside such joints as Great Gildersleeves, Hurrah, the Lone Star Cafe, the Squat Theatre, Tomato's, TR3, and Trax. Other albums on his profile feature '70s performance shots and scenester portraits too--click away!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who wants yesterday's papers?

Quite by accident, I just found a treasure trove of Stones Forest Hills concert shots on the Life images archive! Taken by Walter Daran on July 2, 1966. Personally, this kind of stuff excites me more than, say, the new Exile reissue.

Pssst....coincidentally, this post should give you a little hint as to the next joint I'm working on...

New look, old stuff

Thought I'd freshen up the place with a new template and a much-needed labels list and search box. And allow me to share a couple of videos I was just hipped to by a Facebook pal, Jet Screamer.

First, photos of the Outcasts taken at the Cafe Wha--and yes, I do have a weakness for "Empty Heart" covers, the more primitive and garage-y the better. The band apparently reunited and performed at the current incarnation of the Wha in 2009.

And some silent-but-deadly footage of Clay Cole. There are a few more YT vids of him, including his scenes in Twist Around the Clock and more recent clips of him promoting his book, but it seems like precious little footage from his TV show has survived.

I'll leave you with some choice pics recently posted on tumblr by the aforementioned Hip Toad and her equally '60s teen mag/Lovin' Spoonful/vintage NYC-obsessed best buddy, cheapocheapo.

Cafe Wha? exterior.

Rare glimpses of the Night Owl's interior, though Peter Tork and Buzzy Linhart are the main subjects.

Fun-looking shoppe.

Random cool gal cruisin' at Bleecker & Macdougal.

Interior of the Electric Circus.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

K paso three-peat

A few days ago I received an e-mail with a somewhat cryptic subject line: "Years back, you bemoaned not having...". It also had an attachment. We had a slight virus problem a few weeks ago, so I was a bit hesitant to open it, but I bravely bit the bullet and found: "...specific dates for Murray the K's live rock & roll shows. I hope the attachment helps." Boy, does it ever! And since the missive came from Peter A. of, I trust it's authoritative. Thanks Peter, you saved me a ton of work...not that I was ever actually gonna get around to completing the search myself...

So, here is Peter's compilation of opening dates and lineups--with the exception of the 1965 shows, and the actual dates for December '64 and '66, which have yet to be confirmed.

December 29, 1960--The Clay Cole Christmas Show with Murray the K, Brooklyn Paramount: Ray Charles, Neil Sedaka, Dion, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Chubby Checker, the Drifters, the Shirelles, Bobby Vee, the Bluenotes, the Coasters, Jimmy Charles, Kathy Young, Dante and the Evergreens, Bobby Vinton.
[UPDATE 5/25/2010: Clay Cole himself (!!!--Ed.) just left a comment moments ago, noting that Brenda Lee, Johnny Burnette, Bo Diddley, and the Skyliners also performed.]

April 1, 1961--The Easter Parade of Stars with Clay Cole and Murray the K, Brooklyn Paramount: Dion, Chubby Checker, Ben E. King, the Shirelles, Bobby Rydell, Carla Thomas, Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette, Jimmy Clanton, Maxine Brown, Freddy Cannon, the Marcels, Rosie, Del Shannon, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Capris, the Isley Brothers, the Olympics, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Frank Gari, Andy Rose, Johnny Tillotson, Johnny Mathis, Chuck Jackson, the Landon Sisters, Bobby Bongard.

September 4, 1961--The Murray the K Labor Day Show of Stars, Brooklyn Paramount: Jackie Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Etta James, Clarence Henry, Brian Hyland, Ral Donner, the Cleftones, Linda Scott, the Belmonts, Bruce Bruno, the Chantels, Frank Gari, Curtis Lee, the Vibrations, the Regents, Tony Orlando.

December 28, 1961--Murray the K's Twist Party, Academy of Music: Joey Dee & the Starliters, the Vibrations, the Chantels, Bobby Vee, the Isley Brothers, Johnny Mathis, Dion, Bobby Lewis, Timi Yuro, Gary U.S. Bonds, the Belmonts, the Crystals, Jan & Dean.

September 8, 1962--Murray the K's Golden Gasser Show of Stars, Brooklyn Fox: The Shirelles, Chuck Jackson, the Four Seasons, the Ronettes, Bobby Vinton, the Capris, Mike Clifford, the Marvelettes, the Del-Satins, Tony Orlando, Little Eva, the Dovells, the Thornton Sisters, Tommy Roe, the Majors, Fabian.

December 27, 1962--Murray the K's Christmas Revue, Brooklyn Fox: Jackie Wilson, Joey Dee & the Starliters, the Shirelles, the Four Seasons, the Cookies, Mark Valentino, Sam & Bill, the Dovells, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, the Ronettes, the Earls, Little Eva, the Crests (featuring James Ancrum on lead), Dionne Warwick, Johnny Thunder.

April 18, 1963--Murray the K's Show of Shows, Brooklyn Fox: Dion, Chuck Jackson, the Vibrations, the Dovells, the Orlons, Little Peggy March, Lou Christie, Dee Dee Sharp, the Coasters, the Harptones, Johnny Mathis, the Ronettes, Steve Alaimo.

September 4, 1963--Murray the K's Holiday Revue, Brooklyn Fox: Ben E. King, Little Stevie Wonder, the Drifters, the Miracles, the Tymes, the Chiffons, Randy & the Rainbows, the Angels, Jan & Dean, the Ronettes, Jay & the Americans, Gene Pitney, the Dovells, Dionne Warwick, Dick & Dee Dee.

December 30, 1963--Murray the K's Christmas Show, Brooklyn Fox: Lloyd Price, the Miracles, Mary Wells, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Martha & the Vandellas, the Duprees, Tommy Hunt, Jay & the Americans, Ruby & the Romantics, Tommy Roe, Dale & Grace, the Vibrations.

September 9, 1964--Murray the K's Big Holiday Show, Brooklyn Fox: Marvin Gaye, the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas, the Supremes, the Contours, the Temptations, the Searchers, Dusty Springfield, Millie Small, Jay & the Americans, the Dovells, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes.

December XX, 1964--Murray the K's Christmas Show, Brooklyn Fox: Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, the Drifters, the Shirelles, Dick & Dee Dee, the Shangri-Las, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells, the Vibrations, Dionne Warwick, the Zombies, the Nashville Teens, the Hullabaloos.

April 11, 1966--Murray the K's Easter Show, Brooklyn Fox: Joe Tex, the Young Rascals, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Jay & the Americans, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Deon Jackson, the Shangri-Las, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells, the Gentrys, the Royalettes.

December XX, 1966--Murray the K's Christmas Show, Brooklyn Fox: Peter & Gordon, Wilson Pickett, the Fortunes, the McCoys, the Moody Blues, the Toys, Lenny Welch, Cannibal & the Headhunters, the Vibrations, the Spinners, the O'Jays, the Bloodless Revolutionaries.

March 28, 1967--Murray the K's Music in the Fifth Dimension, RKO 58th Street Theater: Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Wilson Pickett, the Who, the Hardly-Worthit Players, Cream, the Blues Magoos, the Blues Project, Jim & Jean, the Mandala, the Chicago Loop, Phil Ochs, Simon & Garfunkel, the Young Rascals. [Smokey Robinson & the Miracles were also on the bill, but most accounts I've read said they failed to show.]

As a thank-you I sent Peter a few photos of Murray interviewing the Stones at WINS, taken by the aunt of one of my dearest friends, who was quite the Stones fan and all-around scenester back in the day--still is, actually. (She even appeared in the "they're so ugly that they're appealing" arrival newsreel, only she was the quiet girl standing beside the chick who made that statement.)

Peter returned that favor with a cool shot of Murray and the Stones at their JFK arrival press conference.

Speaking of Clay Cole...I just started reading his book, and though I've only gotten though the chapters on his very earliest years in showbiz, I can tell already it's gonna be one of the most fabulous, fascinating, and side-splittingly hilarious books on both rock & roll and TV that could ever possibly be written! Don't miss Tommy James' Me, the Mob, and the Music either--so fantastically unputdownable I finished it in about four hours, and I'm no Evelyn Wood graduate.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Comment of the Week, Part Deux

That Foxy Lady's "old/new boyfriend" just checked in with a few additional details!!! I didn't think the story could get any more adorable, but it does!

I remember this concert like it was yesterday. Anyone remember the Soft Machine having pamphlets thrown out of a helicopter before their set? So my girlfriend and I sat on the floor seats just a few rows from the stage. They introduced Janis (as I recall her first NY appearance) and everyone's reaction was - "who"? Well that sure changed after the first few notes. Then the Chambers Bros and then JIMI!! So yep, my girfriend broke up with me less than 2 months later. She married someone else. So did I. And only now do we realize that it was each other we loved all these years and her breaking up was a mistake. Oh, I'm Debbie's old/new boyfriend and for the past 42 years whenever either one of us remembered this concert or anything to do with Jimi we remembered how much we were/are in love. (Debbie forgot to mention that her dog's name is Foxy).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comment of the Week

Actually, this might be the greatest comment I've ever gotten! A foxy lady left it just seconds ago at the Singer Bowl post, but it's too good to leave it buried there.

I was at the August 23, 1968 concert with my then boyfriend. It was the most amazing concert I've ever seen in my life. We were both 17. We were so in love. We watched Jimi and nearly cried. Two months later we broke up. The concert was always vivid in my memories as was he. Forty two years later we met on facebook. We realized that we are as in love with each other now as we were then. Maybe more. The rest is history. Thank you Jimi for that.

Long live everlasting torrid teenage love!!! Sigh......

One from the Vault

I was very pleased and honored to be asked to compile a short piece on NYC venue history for Wolfgang's Vault earlier in the week. (I guess this means they've forgiven me for "borrowing" a few Anderson Theater poster scans from their site several years ago!) I tried to be concise yet comprehensive, and to my surprise editor Victoria Keddie left the post basically intact, save for removing most of the links I'd provided. I suppose all that excessive underlined hypertext might have been unsightly, but since I like my readers to have as much immediate info access at their fingertips as possible, I'll put my original link-laden final draft up here as well.

I do update old posts often, but only when I happen to come across or am provided with new information. In my search for new links for the article, I've found that there's quite a bit more material out there about some of the places I've covered than there was when I first started writin' this I probably should go back and do some thorough re-digging and rewriting to bring older posts further up to code. However, since I've got a greater desire to investigate joints I haven't covered yet, that may take a while.

I want to give a special albeit belated shout-out to the prolific NYCDreamin' of This Ain't the Summer of Love. I was already familiar with some of his work, having seen a few of his posts on historic NYC photography via links from other NYC blogs. Unbeknownst to me though, he has also written exhaustive pieces on the Hotel Diplomat and the Coventry--which kindly acknowledge and build on the posts I'd already done, but truly go the extra mile that eludes me by delving much deeper into building history, citing more sources, and listing accurate and complete show dates. He did an extensive series on the Mercer Arts Center too, a topic I was frankly a little frightened to tackle...and probably others I haven't found yet, but will find soon since I intend to read his blog "cover to cover" over the next few days. I bow to you sir!

Well, here 'tis. Please be kind, it was the best I could do under a rather tight deadline and with some insomnia issues.

As a rock & roll-obsessed New Yorker, I’ve long wished that somebody would write a detailed book on the many places where the music happened in my hometown. When such a book still wasn’t written by 2005, I started blogging about NYC’s lost rock & roll landmarks in my spare time—mainly to satisfy my own curiosity about these joints and the fine folks who performed and partied at them. Five years later, I’m no closer to being an authority on this vast subject than I was before, but I have learned a lot…so when Wolfgang’s Vault asked me to write a brief rundown on some key historical venues and clubs, I felt quite honored, and readily complied.

I haven’t yet delved as deeply into NYC’s ‘50s scene as I would like, simply because I’d be hard-pressed to track down so many untold and undocumented streetcorners, record hops, and uptown R&B bars. But the music’s earliest mass meetings were definitely Alan Freed’s colossal package shows. Most were held at the Brooklyn Paramount and the New York Paramount, though several other movie palaces and halls were also used. WWRL DJ Tommy “Dr. Jive” Smalls presented his own multi-act revues at the beyond-legendary Apollo Theater during the same period.

Freed’s career may have been in scandalous ruins by the ‘60s, but venue possibilities expanded and exploded throughout the decade. Old movie theaters continued to be granted a second adolescence: Clay Cole’s and Soupy Sales’ package shows and even the Beatles at the NY Paramount; Sid Bernstein’s early British Invasion shows at the Academy of Music; and Murray the K’s twice-yearly revues at the Brooklyn Fox. The Village Theater (formerly Loew’s Commodore) showcased many an up-and-coming underground act and hip happening before “Wolfgang” took over and renamed it the Fillmore East—as did the nearby Anderson Theater. But the rock & roll nightclub also came into full fruition at this time, offering a more intimate, energetic, and audience-participatory experience. Naturally the Village boasted a ton of them—Gerde’s Folk City, the Gaslight Café, Café Wha? (that David Lee Roth’s uncle ran that joint is even more remarkable to me than its most famous discovery), Café au Go-Go, Trude Heller’s, the Night Owl, and Generation to name a few…not to mention the mind-melting Dom/Balloon Farm/Electric Circus crosstown on St. Marks. There was the Peppermint Lounge, the Cheetah, Ungano’s, and the incredible Steve Paul’s the Scene on the West Side, and swank East Side discotheques like Arthur, the Phone Booth, Ondine, and L’Interdit. Numerous teen clubs sprouted throughout the boroughs and Long Island, most notably the Action House. And outdoor venues also proliferated—not only the Schaefer Music Festival at Wollman Rink in Central Park (co-founded by Ron Delsener and future CBGBs honcho Hilly Kristal), but also further-afield places like Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island, Gaelic Park in the Bronx, and even the grounds of Staten Island’s Daytop drug rehab center. The section of north-central Queens where I grew up was quite the hotbed of open-air action in particular—and we’re not just talking about the Beatles at Shea here. When I see old lineup schedules for the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the N.Y. Pavilion, and the Singer Bowl (footage from the Doors’ show/riot there wound up in the recent Doors documentary When You’re Strange), I imagine that my hipper-than-moi predecessors hardly had to schlep to Manhttan at all for kicks during those late-‘60s summers.

While Madison Square Garden and the Felt Forum hosted the hugest touring acts of the ‘70s, the Academy of Music (later rechristened the Palladium) and the Beacon Theatre still flew the flag for theater-scaled presentation, and the Bottom Line held up its end with a more cabaret-style setting. The go-go discotheque scene had sadly quieted, but there were still some in-crowd hangouts like Nobody’s and Harold C. Black’s 210 Loft. A common theme running through most punk rock history books states that there were absolutely no clubs offering original live music in town before CBGB came along. However, with places like the upper floor of Max’s Kansas City, the Oscar Wilde Room at the Mercer Arts Center, the Hotel Diplomat, Club 82, Mother’s, and the Coventry in existence, this could not have been entirely true. CBs did eventually rule the roost, and Hilly Kristal even attempted to open a bigger satellite venue inside the old Anderson Theater—which didn’t last, but did set a precedent for more successful large clubs like Hurrah, Bond’s Casino, Irving Plaza, and the Ritz. Other punk and post-punk places I wish I could have experienced include Great Gildersleeves, the Mudd Club, Club 57, the “new” Peppermint Lounge, the Pyramid, Danceteria, and the Dive.

My own time is actually not my favorite musical era, so I have not yet done as much research into ‘80s and ‘90s venues. I also moved to a whole other country at the turn of this century, and have just barely kept up with NYC’s changing live scene since then—which has shifted much of its current focus toward Brooklyn. Still, praise must be given to joints like the second Ritz (relocated to the old Studio 54 space), the Academy, Roseland, Tramps, the Lone Star, Maxwell’s (in the “sixth borough” that is Hoboken, N.J.), the old Knitting Factory on Houston, the Mercury Lounge, the Bowery Ballroom, Brownie’s, the Continental, Coney Island High (these last two never bothered to dismantle their sites, bless them), and numerous others too lost in time to mention. All stomping grounds of my generation’s formative years, and major waystations on the hopefully continuing trajectory of New York City rock & roll.

[UPDATE 5/21/2010: A kind archivist at just wrote to remind me that the Brooklyn Fox shows usually happened three times a year (over the Easter, Labor Day, and Christmas holidays), not twice as I erroneously and brain-fartedly wrote above. He also informed me that Murray would occasionally emcee a smaller fourth show at a summer-specific venue, such as the Westbury Music Fair.]

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More updates to old posts

Ondine update: Just found a fantastic "Pop Eye" column by Richard Goldstein in the March 23, 1967 issue of the Village Voice, covering several cool topics: Zal Yanovsky's rep as an informant; the growing use of psychedelics among musicians; the Toronto scene ("the influx of draft dodgers has given that city's hip community the status of an international mecca"); Joe Tex; the Monkees; the Fugs; a review of an attempted series of happenings called "Rock Flows" at the Broadway Central Hotel; and a fabulously evocative account of the atmosphere at Ondine during the Doors' stand that month.

Singer Bowl update: Quite a bit of footage from the Doors show wound up in When You're Strange, as shown on PBS last week. Not so much of the band performing, but you do get to see Morrison mingling with some people in the crowd before the show (including a guy selling Who programs), and of him backstage comforting a girl who got hit with a chair during the melee. I tried to see if there was more on youtube, but no dice...however, I did find audio of "Light My Fire," and of the Who's whole set.

N.Y. State Pavilion update: I went to see Iron Man 2 recently, and much to my surprise a CGI restoration, or should I say re-imagining, of the fairgrounds plays a major part in the film!!! The Unisphere and particularly the Pavilion are prominently featured, as is a scale model for the so-called "1974 Stark Expo," which was basically a replica of a '64 World's Fair scale model as far as I could tell. See the Bowery Boys and the NY Daily News for more details. And here's a report about current efforts to restore the Pavilion.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Bobby/Booth Ephemera

From KRLA Beat, June 11, 1966.

And July 2, 1966.

K paso redux

I am shocked not only that this piece of footage exists, but that I had no knowledge of it prior to today...dig Murray the K dancing with John and Ringo at the Peppermint Lounge!!!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The streets I wish I'd crossed very long ago

I found this recently on the tumblr blog of Hip Toad, a young lady with an impressive '60s teen magazine collection. She just deleted a bunch of her old posts in order to start again fresh...which makes me extra-glad I had the foresight to save this particular scan she uploaded a while back. It's from an unspecified British mag...probably Rave if the title is any indication. (There might have been a third page, but it wasn't uploaded.)

Friday, May 07, 2010

You've finally made a Monkee outta me

Steve Paul's Scene footage alert! Evidently the Motions from Holland played the Scene in June of 1969--with Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz in attendance! Since I'm familiar only with their mid-'60s Nederbeat period, I wasn't even aware they were around that long (apparently with some personnel changes). And though these clips have been up on YT since late 2006, I only just discovered them today via facebook linkage from a longtime Internet pal, "Sweet J.T."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bigger than a breadbox

"What's My Line?" documented the cultural life of mid-century New York City like no other program I can name. Since we're on the subject of '60s East Side discotheques and nightclubs, here are a couple of pertinent "WML" clips I've put up, featuring a lady disc jockey and a lady "newsboy" who sold the earliest morning papers to nightclub denizens.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Clark Kent's got nothing on me

THE PHONE BOOTH--152 East 55th Street (between 3rd and Lexington Avenues). One of several East Side discotheques to emerge in the mid-'60s Go-Go boom, the Phone Booth had previously been the site of a '30s supper club called the Cafe Life, and most famously housed the Blue Angel, a swank cabaret with a long lifespan and an exceptional talent roster. As John Gavin writes in Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (New York: Backstage Books, 2006):

The Blue Angel's formality challenged guests to rise to the chicness of their surroundings...From 1943 to 1964, dozens of future stars took career leaps at the Angel's red-carpeted entrance, including Barbra Streisand, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Carol Burnett, Johnny Mathis, Tom Lehrer, Phyllis Diller, Shelley Berman, Pearl Bailey, Harry Belafonte, and Woody Allen. The list proved [co-owner Herbert] Jacoby's unsurpassed eye for unique talent with commercial appeal. But the club was a star in itself. "You've got to go to the Blue Angel before you leave," said many a New Yorker to visiting friends.

Other notable performers include the Revuers (with Judy Holliday and Comden & Green), Yul Brynner, Dorothy Loudon, Kaye Ballard, Bobby Short, Barbara McNair, Diahann Carroll, Dick Gregory, Nipsey Russell, Vaughn Meader, Don Adams, and Peter Paul & Mary. The book discusses these and other more obscure but beloved-by-cabaret-cognoscenti figures in great detail, along with vivid descriptions of the decor and atmosphere of the room...but I'll stop here, since such minutiae is appealing only to the hardcore old time showbiz hound/theater queen division of NYC nostalgians (who, like me, probably have a well-worn copy of the book on their shelves already...).

Alas, due to the combined effects of "TV, the New York World's Fair...the fact that people weren't staying out as late as they used to," and with entertainment tastes now leaning more towards rock & roll, the Blue Angel closed its doors in May of 1964. "[Co-owner Max] Gordon sold the club to hotel entrepreneur Ed Wynne, who planned to convert it into a restaurant." It seems Wynne decided to go more Go-Go instead, for about a year later the Phone Booth emerged--not unlike Clark Kent's alter ego from the confines of said enclosure. Oddly enough, the joint's emcee happened to be named Kent, as reported in the New York Times on June 1, 1965:

The most elaborate is the Phone Booth, a large and luxuriously appointed room...The owners of the Phone Booth seem to feel that if people are staying home to watch Johnny Carson or Merv Griffin preside at a table on television or to listen to telephone conversations on radio, why not combine both features with the added allure of live, physical presence? This is the approach of the nightclub. The resident phone respondent is Lenny Kent, a short, round man with a well-flexed larynx who also serves as a leering variant of the Carson-Griffin host-type. There are cream-colored telephones at every table (103 in all, including the lounge), which can be used to order drink or food or to bandy words with Mr. Kent. They can also be used to call anyone anywhere--provided you have joined the Private Phone Booth Club, which costs $5.

Lenny Kaye's "New York in the Sixties" article from The History of Rock states that the table phones could also be used "to dial your intended dance partner." However, a blurb in the January 1, 1966 issue of the KRLA Beat noted that the club had no phones, leading me to wonder if the whole phone gimmick was abandoned at some point.

Apparently the Booth's early booking policy was rather similar to that of the Angel. The Times article notes that the opening week's performers included a comedian named Morty Storm, "a singer with curly black hair and dimples" named Michael Allen, and a Brazilian singer named Eliana Pitman, accompanied by her saxophonist father Booker. Various articles in the Billboard Google Archives mention engagements with Arthur Prysock and Lynne Lipton in July '65 ("The 'Tonight Show' format of the club was not personally enjoyable, although the audience seemed to enjoy it," noted reviewer Claude Hall), Joe Williams with Laura Lane and Vaughn Meader in August '65, Chris Connor in August-September '65, and Gloria DeHaven in September '65. Still, there must have been a little bit of rock & roll mixed in by that late summer, for there's also a report on an August engagement with the Boys Next Door, "five clean-cut undergraduates from Indiana University" with a Cameo-Parkway contract and a Beach Boys-esque sound. Since I've come across no jazzbo references after September '65, I'll assume the club went completely rock & roll by that autumn...and I imagine they might have dropped the "talk show"-style presentation around that time as well.

When I ponder the Phone Booth, the first band that comes to mind is inevitably the (Young) Rascals. The be-knickerbockered b'hoys already had a solid local following, the management services of Sid Bernstein, and an Atlantic contract under their belts by the time they were booked for a two-week residency there starting on October 28, 1965. But the Phone Booth was where all those elements coalesced into stardom--not to mention an eight-week holdover. As the January 1, 1966 issue of the KRLA Beat reported, "The group recently broke records at New York's Phone Booth Club (which incidentally has no phones) like they were going out of style. Seen applauding in the audience opening night--the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Herman's Hermits, the Lovin' Spoonful, Barry McGuire and Lesley Gore." A brief bit of footage from the gig was included in a 1965 TV program called "Anatomy of Pop: The Music Explosion." [I once saw their segment on the old Internets long before the youtube era...and sadly haven't seen it since. You can find Gene Krupa's segment from the program on there though if you're so inclined.] Here's a picture scanned from Tony Fletcher's All Hopped Up and Ready to Go, and a Getty archives pic of Brian Jones and Bob Dylan in the audience digging them (with nary a table phone to be seen, natch).

[By the way, the original members of the Rascals recently reunited for a one-off charity performance. I won't hold my breath waiting a full-fledged reunion tour, but will cautiously allow such hopes to simmer on the back burner...]

[UPDATE 5/12/2010: Well after the fact, the July 2, 1966 issue of KRLA Beat published a fun look back at the Rascals' opening night at the Booth.]

A mixture of local talent and hit touring acts played the Booth in the Rascals' wake through 1966. Here are the references I've found thus far.

The Rahgoos (later known as Gandalf) were one of the locals. As Peter Sando told Ugly Things honcho Mike Stax, the Rascals proved to be a heavy influence on the scene: "Most of the uptown Discotheques were dominated by Rascal-clone bands like the Rich Kids, the Vagrants, and the Pilgrims. We were not immune to that as we converted to a B3 sound when we played at the Rolling Stone and Phone Booth--you might hear that influence on "Me About You" on our LP--but as the band progressed, we were falling into the Rascal sound too much."

From Billboard, October 23, 1965: "The Highwaymen are set for an engagement at New York's Phone Booth from Nov. 15 to 28." They're not to be confused with the '80s country supergroup, and I wonder if and how they were actually squeezed in during the Rascals' residency.

Billboard, January 15, 1966: "The Goldberg-Miller group drove teenagers wild recently at the Phone Booth." They began their four-week stand on December 16, 1965, mining a vein similar to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Blues Project. They were also on Epic, and though this article states that member "Barry Miller" was the son of the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., a helpful and knowledgeable reader informed me that organist Barry Goldberg may not truly be related to said diplomat, and that the Miller in question was actually Steve Miller--yes, that Steve Miller! (I was completely clueless about this portion of Miller's career, but then I never really investigated him beyond his "classic rock radio" hits.)

Barry McGuire and the Grass Roots opened on January 14, 1966. The January 29, 1966 Billboard reported, "The dance floor looked like a tableau from Mad magazine--vested Madison Avenue types dancing with girls whose attire resembled that of World War I Alpine troops." Louise Criscione's "On the Beat" column in the February 19, 1966 KRLA Beat dished, "Barry's in New York appearing at the Phone Booth, and reports say that the hippies love him but the rest of the population is avoiding the spot like some sort of plague."

The Turtles did a ten-day engagement starting on March 2, 1966. Once again, I'll turn things over to Louise's "On the Beat" from KRLA Beat, March 5, 1966: "This Phone Booth date had them a little worried. To begin with they had heard all sorts of horrible things about New York clubs, and then some helpful soul informed the boys that the Phone Booth was next to Arthur's, which made the Turtles really scared!...They asked Joey [Paige] to name the three grooviest places to play in New York, and without knowing that the Turtles were scheduled to appear there, Joey promptly named the Phone Booth. Hearing that, the Turtles are now ready to tear the place up!" As it turned out, Bob Dylan may have (good-naturedly) torn them a new one...after hearing their live rendition of "It Ain't Me, Babe" at the Booth, he is said to have quipped, "That's a great last song, it should be a record." The April 2 KRLA Beat further gushed, "They are currently in New York at the Phone Booth playing to houses packed with the cream of New York society because, you see, the Booth has become the 'in' place for all socialites."

[UPDATE 5/12/2010: Check out the Turtles article in the June 25, 1966 issue of KRLA Beat for a lengthy Howard Kaylan anecdote about his bout with tonsillitis during the Booth residency.]

[UPDATE 5/27/2010: Found this neat teen mag photo on cheapocheapo's tumblr.]

I haven't found any exact dates for the Shadows of Knight's Phone Booth stint, but it gets a mention in a KRLA Beat article about them from the May 7, 1966 edition, so I venture to guess it was sometime in April. In this interview, Jim Sohns claims they broke the Rascals' attendance records, and that they and the Doors (performing at Ondine--nearby but not across the street as Sohns recalls) would check each other out intimidatingly and macho-like between sets. "The owners were smart enough to keep one band on while the other band was off, and alternate so you could keep the people in block, 'cause there were many places of entertainment in New York City. They used to come in and stare at us and give us this hard stare when we were on. And we'd go across the street when they were on and look at them like they were nuts. After about the first week of that, I was walking through the crowd and Jim Morrison grabbed me by the arm and goes 'You're quite insane you know.' I said 'Well, thank you. I've seen your act and you wouldn't know insane.' Then we laughed and had a few drinks and talked about music." [I'm not so sure about the veracity of this tale, as I haven't seen any records of the Doors playing at Ondine prior to November '66...but perhaps Jim is remembering another Phone Booth engagement for the S.O.K. of which I'm ignorant.] Billboard's August 20, 1966 issue reports that some live audio from one of these shows wound up on an Italian radio program called "New York '66."
The Toys played a week there beginning on May 2, 1966. Billboard May 14, 1966: "The girls showed the results of their hard work, proving they can perform under the most demanding conditions. Handicapped by the club's small stage, which restricted their dance movement, and by a backup sextet unfamiliar with their arrangements, the trio still managed to present a pleasing program that highlighted their own hits."

Billboard June 4, 1966: "The driving dance beat heard last week at the Phone Booth discotheque was the product of a wildly garbed sextet known as the New Order. The Warner Bros. group has a sound to match their Emilio Pucci outfits, with three electric guitars, drums, and the voices of Billy Barberis and Bobby Weinstein."

The Bobby Fuller Four did a two-week stand starting on June 13, 1966, but sadly it was a bit of a bust since most of the hipoisie were investigating the newly opened Cheetah across town. In rare spare moments between co-running the Norton Records empire and pounding the skins for the A-Bones in various far-flung locales, my idol Miriam Linna is busy putting the finishing touches on I Fought the Law: The Authorized Biography of Bobby Fuller. This will be a book-length expansion on her already stupendous "Bobby Fuller Story" article from Kicks #6. I won't steal any of the Fuller Phone Booth anecdotes she has collected (buy the book!...and the soon-to-be-released El Paso Rock Vol. 3 while you're at it!!!), but I'm compelled to scan these two images from the article. I hope she'll understand I do it not to be a thief, but only because there are precious few Phone Booth images out there and my readers demand visual stimuli. If you have any recollections of seeing Bobby Fuller at the Booth (or Ondine for that matter), drop her a line pronto! (I noticed her asking about that on the Steve Paul Scene facebook page.)

I knew about the Blues Project's appearance (July 25 to August 8, 1966), but I didn't know about Dion or a Rascals return! Jon & Lee & the Checkmates from Toronto (forerunners to Rhinoceros) were regulars as well. Unfortunately, that's about all the acts I've been able to find so far! I could have sworn reading elsewhere that the Knickerbockers and Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels played there, but now I'm having trouble finding evidence so I'm probably misremembering things. Also, at the time of this writing I've only gotten up to the mid-June '66 issues of KRLA Beat...their database isn't searchable, but I'll definitely update things here if I come across any more references there, or anywhere else.

I don't know exactly when the Phone Booth became as obsolete as real phone booths are today, but I have not yet found any references beyond the summer of '66...and I have no idea what businesses took its place until the eventual demolition of the building. The luxe Carvi Hotel now stands on the site.

EDIT 9/2/2011:  Dig this recently unearthed '60s TV documentary on the Magicians, including some phab Phone Booth phootage.  Huge debt of gratitude to my great buddy Flipped Out Phil for the links.

EDIT 5/24/65:  Here's an ad for the Phone Booth from the 6/17/65 issue of the Village Voice.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

K paso?

Just got another fantastic anecdote about Murray the K's "Music in the Fifth Dimension" show, from a swell reader named Nelson!

Via Flickr.

From Jane & Michael Stern's Sixties People.

During those shows, as the bands were setting up, they alternated between Jackie the K’ s dancing troupe and audience participation dance contests. Jackie was, of course, Murray’s gorgeous trophy wife. Murray would select a group of volunteers from the audience and have them dance onstage to a record, and the winner was determined by the volume of the applause they received. As a prize, the winner would get to go backstage and meet the star of their choice.

During one of those sessions there was a guy selected named “Ambrose,” who was sort of putting on his own little show. Amongst other things, he had a pair of drumsticks which he played on the microphone stand. Anyhow, though he was not the best dancer, the audience selected him overwhelmingly just to see what he’d do next. When Murray asked who he would like to meet backstage, he replied in a lecherous voice, “Your Wife, heh, heh!” With this the entire theatre broke out in laughter. It is the only time that I have seen Murray the K at a loss for words.

Later on at the next intermission, Murray attempted a weak comeback by saying that Ambrose told him afterward that he really wanted to meet Keith Moon, and then added, “So we don’t know about Ambrose,” implying that he may be less than heterosexual, which did not go over well with the audience.