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Archive for the ‘Club Owner’ Category

RIP, Don Hill (March 31, 2011) Iconic New York Nightclub Owner

Posted by on March 31, 2011

Don Hill
DOB Unknown – March 31, 2011

Photo by Patrick McMullan

Don Hill was a popular New York City club manager and owner who helped make the Cat Club, and later his own Don Hill’s nightclub THE places to be seen for rock stars and celebrities of every stripe.  Born and raised in New Jersey, Hill was just 18 when landed his first Manhattan job at Kenny’s Castaways.   In 1985, he took over management of the Cat Club and began booking talent like G.G. Allin, Poison, Soundgarden and L.A. Guns – it was the first place most New Yorkers caught a glimpse of these acts.  The Cat Club stage also played host to David Bowie and Peter Frampton during the ’80s.  In 1993, he opened Don Hill’s which again, became and still is, the hangout of choice for many of rock’s elite.  Don Hill was 66 when he passed away on March 31, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number1Albums

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Died On This Date (August 28, 2007) Hilly Kristal / Owned CBGB’s

Posted by on August 28, 2010

Hilly Kristal
September 23, 1931 – August 28, 2007

Hilly with Little Steven

Hilly Kristal with Little Steven

Opened in 1973, Hilly Kristal’s CBGB became the epicenter of the punk and new wave movement thanks to his early bookings of such acts as Blondie, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Television and the Ramones.  After moving to New York City after serving in the Marines, Kristal became manager of the storied Village Vanguard jazz club where he booked such acts as Miles Davis.  In 1968, he co-founded the Central Park’s Schaefer Music Festival which, over the next decade, hosted the likes of the Who, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, the Doors and Aerosmith.  In 1973, he opened CBGB – OMFUG, which stood for  “Country, BlueGrass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.”  He closed the club during a much publicized rent dispute in 2006.  Hilly Kristal died of lung cancer at the age of 75.

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Died On This Date (August 14, 2005) Esther Wong / The Godmother Of Punk; Owned Madame Wong’s in L.A.

Posted by on August 14, 2010

Esther Wong
August 13, 1917 – August 14, 2005

Esther Wong was a Chinese immigrant who landed in Los Angeles in 1949.  By the mid ’70s, Wong and her husband were running Chinese restaurant that presented a Polynesian floor show in L.A.’s Chinatown.  When business started to slow down by the end of the decade, Wong reluctantly allowed a local promoter to start booking local punk bands on her stage.  At the time, most of the city’s venues were banning such acts.  The promoter and Wong soon parted company and Wong started bringing music she enjoyed – the more pop leaning new wave.  In 1985, the club was seriously damaged in a fire and within a few years, Wong opened Madame Wong’s West in Santa Monica where she continued building her reputation as the “Godmother of Punk.”  The list of acts that played Madam Wong’s during their early years includes Guns ‘N Roses, Black Flag, Blondie, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oingo Boingo, Fear, the Ramones, the Go-Gos, and the Police.  Esther Wong died of emphysema on August 14, 2005, the day after her 88th birthday.

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Died On This Date (August 13, 2009) Sherwood Cryer / Owned Famed Gilley’s Honkey Tonk

Posted by on August 13, 2010

Charley Sherwood Cryer
September 2, 1926 – August 13, 2009

Photo by Christopher Gray

Photo by Christopher Gray

Along with partner Mickey Gilley, Sherwood Cryer owned the Pasadena, Texas honky tonk, Gilley’s which became world renowned thanks to the hit 1980 film Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger.  Cryer discovered Gilley performing in a local club and convinced him to open up the club in 1971.  With Gilley on stage, cold Lone Star beer, and several mechanical bulls, the club helped launch a pop-culture phenomenon that was second only to disco less than a decade earlier.  During its heyday, the bar’s stage featured some of the biggest names in country music.  Gilley, himself becoming one of those stars, thanks in part to Cryer’s business savvy.  When the Urban Cowboy filmmakers wanted to recreate the bar on a sound stage, it was Cryer who convinced them to film the now-famous scenes right there in the club.   After the movie’s release, Gilley’s became one of the biggest tourist attractions in Texas.  Unfortunately, the club’s new popularity drove away the regulars, and eventually caused the break-up of Cryer and Gilley’s partnership and the closure of the bar.   The building burned down in 1989 in what was ruled arson.  Sherwood Cryer passed away at the age of 81.  Cause of death has not been released.

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Died On This Date (August 12, 2009) Rashied Ali / Drummer Played With John Coltrane

Posted by on August 12, 2010

Rashied Ali (Born Robert Patterson)
July 1, 1935 – August 12, 2009

rashied-aliBorn into a musical family, jazz drummer Rashied Ali began to come into his own after moving to New York City in his late 20s.  Within a short time, he was playing behind the likes of James Blood Ulmer, Pharoah Sanders, and eventually John Coltrane.  He played on Coltrane’s final recordings.  Ali went on to become one of world’s highest regarded avant garde jazz musicians.    During the ’70s he opened a Ali’s Alley, a popular jazz club in New York while continuing to play with the likes of Don Cherry and  Bill Laswell.  Ali continued to play and record up until his passing on August 12, 2009.  He died after a heart attack during heart surgery.

Thanks to reader, James Dean for the help

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Died On This Date (August 10, 2007) Tony Wilson / Co-founded Factory Records

Posted by on August 10, 2010

Tony Wilson
February 20, 1950 – August 10, 2007

tony_wilsonA man of many hats, Tony Wilson is best remembered as co-owner of Factory Records, home the one-time home of Joy Division, New Order and OMD.  He also owned The Hacienda, which became  the epicenter of the Manchester music scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s.   Before his foray into music, Wilson was a journalist and BBC television peronaility, most notably hosting So It Goes and After Dark.  Suffering from advance stages of renal cancer, Wilson, age 57,  died of a heart attack in a Manchester hospital.

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Died On This Date (July 25, 1989) Steve Rubell / Co-founder of Studio 54

Posted by on July 25, 2010

Steve Rubell
December 2, 1943 – July 25, 1989

At left with Ian Schrager

At left with Ian Schrager

Steve Rubell was a New York business man who teamed up with friend Ian Schrager to open Studio 54, the Mahanttan nightclub that became the epicenter of the ’70s disco phenomenon.  The disco opened in April of 1977 and quickly became the late night destination of the rich and famous.  It would not be unusual for one to bump into the likes of Elton John, Liza Minnelli, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Warren Beatty, Cher, John Lennon or Steve Buckingham. On many nights, Rubell would stand at the front door and randomly decide who could enter based on their looks or wardrobe.   Two years after the club opened, Rubell and Schrager were charged with tax evasion and other charges and were later convicted and sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison.  After his release from prison, Rubell opened another club and a hotel, but nothing ever matched the excitement of Studio 54.  In 1985, he discovered he had AIDS which likely had a hand in his death from hepatitus on July 25, 1989.

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RIP, Fred Anderson (June 24, 2010) Noted Jazz Musician

Posted by on June 24, 2010

Fred Anderson
March 22, 1929 – June 24, 2010

Fred Anderson was an influential Chicago jazz saxophonist who, over the course a career that spanned six decades, earned critical praise in the free jazz and avant garde styles.   After teaching himself to play the sax as a child, Anderson moved with his family to Chicago where he began his formal training.  By the late ’60s, he was the dean of Chicago’s underground jazz scene.  In the early ’80s, Anderson became the owner of the Velvet Lounge, a club that soon found itself at the center of the city’s thriving jazz scene.  Over the course of his career, he released several influential albums on such labels and Delmark and Okka.  Fred Anderson was 81 when, on June 24, 2010,  he died following a heart attack.

What You Should Own

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Died On This Date (May 21, 1990) Morris Levy / Owned Roulette Records

Posted by on May 21, 2010

Moishe “Morris” Levy
August 27, 1927 – May 21, 1990

Morris Levy’s checkered career in the music industry began in the late ’40s when he owned multiple New York City nightclubs, including the famous jazz venue, Birdland.  Because of his venues, Levy learned that performers were required to pay royalties on the songs they performed to the publishing owners, so he started his own publishing company where he began making his fortune.  In 1956, Levy launched Roulette Records which was, at one time or another, home to Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Tommy James & the Shondells, Buddy Knox, Jimmie Rodgers, and many more.  In numerous cases, Levy appeared as co-writer and owned the publishing on the label’s early hits, even though he actually had no hand in the writing.  It was Tommy James who scored the most hit records for the label but unfortunately, he saw litttle of the fortune until Levy sold the company to EMI Music during the late ’80s, and James’ catalog was issued on CD.   Unlike other label heads, Levy also owned pressing plants, duplicating companies, and printing presses, leading law enforcement to believe he was also making pirated copies of popular releases, including many of his own, to make money along the black market as well.   Levy also owned a record store chain and had dubious relationships with radio stations and other alleged underworld characters over the years.  It has long been believed, though never officially proven that he carried out his illegal operations using all facets of his empire to make his fortune.   Although more felonious actions have been attributed to him, Levy was tried and convicted of extortion in 1986, but passed away while free on appeal and before ever serving any time.

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Died On This Date (March 14, 2010) John Sicolo / Owned Famous UK Rock Club, Newport TJ’s

Posted by on March 14, 2010

John Sicolo
DOB Unknown – March 14, 2010

John Sicolo is best remembered as the owner of celebrated Wales nightclub, Newport TJ’s.  Opened nearly four decades ago, Newport TJ’s has hosted such now-famous acts as Oasis, Green Day, Primal Scream, and Joe Strummer.  During the early ’90s, Kurt Cobain reportedly proposed to Courtney Love at the venue, a favorite hang-out of his.  John Sicolo was 66 when he died at a local hospital where he had been admitted for knee replacement surgery.

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