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Vanished Venues: Max's Kansas City

Monday, October 18, 2010

From the mid-1960s to the early '80s, Max's Kansas City was an artists haven that welcomed Andy Warhol, writer William S. Burroughs and musicians like the New York Dolls and Madonna. As part of this week's series on New York's bygone concert halls and nightclubs, we look back at Max's, its legendary back room and its generous bar tabs. We talk with Steven Kasher, gallery owner and editor of the photo book Max’s Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll.


Main: Vanished Venues. All this week, Soundcheck revisits great concert halls and nightclubs from New York music history. Today, we kick off our series with a look at Max’s Kansas City and The Bottom Line. We’ll talk with guests who knew these clubs well, including Wall Street Journal music critic Jim Fusilli. and we’ll open the phones to hear your memories of these two great venues.

Today's Playlist:

1. "I'm Waiting For The Man" - Velvet Underground

2. "Search and Destroy" - The Stooges

3. "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" - Bruce Springsteen

4. "Personality Crisis" - New York Dolls

5. "This Is What You're Like" - Sarah Kirkland Snider & Shara Worden


Steven Kasher

Comments [12]


My Father's Place, Roslyn Long Island

From 1971 -1986 it was home to an astounding array of original talent. 16 years and 6,000 shows. The club and "Eppy" the club owner are being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame next week. New book called "Fun & Dangerous" debuts the same day.

Nov. 08 2010 08:39 PM
lucia from nyc

don't forget the mudd club, and tier three, the ocean club, the clubs that came and went on the way east side of the east village, whose names i cannot recall because of the haze of time, too. danceteria was an outgrowth of those clubs an outgrowth of hurrah's also. so be comprehensive. and talk about the rich afterhours scene too, that existed then, 82, save the robots, etc.

Oct. 19 2010 08:04 PM

the Bottom Line became such a comfortable venue to me. Almost like a livingroom, just a bit cramped. I recall seeing the McGarrigles there with Chaim Tannenbaum and other this other supporting talent. The entire stage overflowed so with musical bodies that the sisters were able to take a backseat to their backup band and enjoyed the show themselves.

Oct. 18 2010 02:41 PM
Jackie from Brooklyn

Sorry - forgot to mention the show was at the Bottom Line.

Oct. 18 2010 02:37 PM
Jackie from Brooklyn

Michael Hedges when he busted a string and changed the string as he played another song. I loved his story about tornadoes inspiring a few of his songs. Which made such complete sense. Possibly the most powerful and intimate show I have ever seen. So much so I actually felt like a good friend died when he passed away.

Oct. 18 2010 02:36 PM
Celia from Brooklyn, NY

I have very happy memories of Max's Kansas City from when I was a little girl in the 1970s. My mom was an aspiring photographer and she managed to befriend and photograph a lot of Andy Warhol's "Superstars". Many of them like Jackie Curtis, Candy Darling and Ultra Violet became family friends and they always welcomed me with hugs and lipstick kisses when I was lucky enough to visit Max's. I loved the light sculptures, the chickpea salad and the feeling of being part of a wild and wonderful scene. My mom still has the negatives/prints from those times and these unpublished photos really capture this vanished world.

Oct. 18 2010 02:25 PM
Woody from Brooklyn

I like how New York City sells itself on this 1970s iconography but today, artists and innovative performance spaces can't afford to exist in Manhattan (see the comment regarding Tonic above).

Oct. 18 2010 02:22 PM
Nancy from Morristown, NJ

A non-music-related Max's story:
I waitressed at the Lone Star in the late 70s, and the (maybe apocryphal) story had it that Mr. Ruskin hired a spotter to watch the bartenders for stealing. The man came to him and said, "everything's fine, the money's going into all 3 registers," to which Mickey replied, "THREE registers?!"

We were awed by the brilliance of the bartenders bringing in a whole register every night and taking it home in order to rip the place off!

Oct. 18 2010 02:20 PM
Pam from Upstate NY

I was there when Patty Smith and Phil Ochs were on. Phil was overweight in a gold lame jump suit. He couldn't perform well because supposedly someone tried to strangle him in South Africa. Of course not long after that he hung himself. It might have been his last appearance??

Oct. 18 2010 02:18 PM
pordy from Madison, NJ

Opening lyrics to Aerosmith's No Suprise (Night in the Ruts, 1979)

Nineteen seventy one
We all heard the starters gun
New York is such a pity
But at Max's Kansas City we won

We all shot the sh@t at the bar
With Johnny O'Toole and his scar
And then old Clive Davis said
He's surely gonna make us a star
I'm gonna make you a star
Just the way you are

Oct. 18 2010 02:16 PM
Sam from Astoria

make sure you cover Tonic this week, which I think is an interesting case because 4 years since closing its doors, the building is still sitting there, unused. I think they were muscled out by the new, perhaps illegally zoned, condo building next door.

Oct. 18 2010 02:03 PM
Siouxan from The Bronx

Lost my contact lens @ Max's Kansas City.

Another great lost venue: The Academy in lower Manhattan. Saw P.J. Harvey and Jesus and the Mary Chain. Other big acts that appeared there: Bjork and Smashing Pumpkins.

Oct. 18 2010 11:05 AM

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