Vinyl, the Scorsese-Jagger production we’ve been looking forward to with bated coke-breath ever since it filmed in the East Village, finally hit HBO last night with an epic two-hour episode, and the critical reaction has been pretty much love it or hate it. Even if you’re with the East Village’s own Richard Hell in the latter camp, you’re probably going to watch at least another episode or two, just to bask/wallow in the ambience of the early-’70s New York City music scene. So here are some fun facts about the show that we’ve culled from around the net, and from our own archives.
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There are more signs of life at the onetime home of Don Hill’s. No, it isn’t being zombified CBGBs-style. Rather, the club’s soon-to-open replacement, The Hills, will host a tribute to Don himself, featuring Michael C. Hall and other cast members of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which got its start at the rowdy rock-and-rave dive of yore.
When Judy Garland, Kirk Douglas, Liz Taylor and the glitterati of the ‘50s wanted to walk on the wild side, they headed to the East Village’s Club 82, “New York’s After-Dark Rendezvous.” The notoriety of the basement club, at 82 East Fourth Street, came from its elaborate stage shows performed by 35 female impersonators. Strippers, dancers, comedians and singers, all men in drag, staged three shows nightly, seven days a week well into the ‘60s, when the novelty wore off and the club’s popularity faded.
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.
The East Village was a very different and much more dangerous place in 1978. But it was still a shock to everyone on the Downtown scene when Johnny Blitz, the Dead Boys’ drummer, was stabbed in a fight on Second Avenue. Street violence isn’t quite what it was in those days, but one thing hasn’t changed: the problem of musicians and medical insurance, or the lack thereof. To help meet Blitz’s mounting medical bills, the CBGB community rallied with a four-day event, the Blitz Benefit (please, don’t call it “Punk Woodstock”). With a t-shirt created by the Ramones’ design guru, Arturo Vega, and more than 30 bands performing, it was a heartfelt outpouring of help and money for one of our own.
Billy Blitz, Johnny’s brother, recalled being just a teenager when his brother was stabbed. “I was in Cleveland so it was all new to me,” he said. “When I got to New York for the benefit, Stiv Bators [lead singer of the Dead Boys] and Tish Bellomo picked me up. They were shooting moons out the car window on the way to the club. I couldn’t believe it!” More →