March 2017


Memories Of Max's Kansas City
Max's Kansas City
Article/Review By: Jimi LaLumia

As the month of April arrives, I get my official Medicare card, and Jungle Records UK issues the album "Max's Kansas City 1976" as an expanded edition two record vinyl and double CD collection, celebrating this historic first compilation of recordings by bands that were making big noise in New York City, and, thanks to a hyper active UK music press,around the world in a pre internet, truly underground manner.Melody Maker , a British music weekly, was especially keen on the post Velvet Underground/ New York Dolls/ Alice Cooper/ Iggy & The Stooges scene that was inspiring the most unusual creatures to want to be in bands (including me.)

As a repressed,depressed child of the 1950's, growing up in the hinterlands of Suffolk County, Long Island , I was so close yet so far away from the magic of New York City, but I did see the NY Daily News that made it's way into my house, and by the time I was 10 or 11 years old, I was avidly enjoying features on The Beatles, the 'jet set', and eventually the 'underground' world of Andy Warhol , The Factory, and, by 1965, when I officially became a teenager, Max's Kansas City, the first true underground club, emerging in the midst of all the 'twist clubs' , discotheques and go go joints. As the years passed and I discovered that my ability to write was getting me free records, tickets to shows and backstage passes, I worked up the courage to take the Long Island Railroad from Ronkonkoma into Penn Station, just in time to become a regular visitor to the offices of MainMan, the company based around David Bowie, also serving as a headquarters for Lou Reed, Iggy & The Stooges, Dana Gillespie, Mick Ronson, my life changing exposure to the then 'Wayne" County who we now know as Jayne County, and the dynamo known as Cherry Vanilla; exotic creatures like Tony Zanetta, Leee Black Childers, and David Bowie's wife Angie were always somewhere in the mix, and they were all regulars at Max's, I eventually worked up the bravado to start writing about shows there (first one for me was a brand new band called Steely Dan, who showed some promise.)

The first version of Max's, founded by the late Mickey Ruskin, ran from 1965 until 1974, and the place went dark for a while until Tommy Dean opened Max's Volume Two; by then I was a dedicated fan and friend of Miss County, her manager Peter Crowley, Cherry Vanilla , and the usual suspects. Writing for Good Times Magazine, my then editor Kurt Loder (who also showed some promise) had me covering the emerging 'punk' scene that had grown out of glitter/glam rock, and in so doing, I managed to endear myself to the Max's hierarchy , feeling as though I had the run of the place by 1976, when Peter Crowley and Tommy Dean managed to give birth to the first album size document of the actual 'scene' that Max's had birthed in it's first incarnation, when The Velvet Underground became the 'house band' of sorts,and Iggy & The Stooges performed the 'cut glass, open up and bleed' shows in front of a 'who's who' including Warhol, who laughed so hard at Iggy's antics, that his stitches opened up (he'd been shot recently) and he had to be rushed to the hospital ,again!

The Max's album was my go to album for months; finally, tracks from Wayne County, Cherry Vanilla, and The Fast..not to mention Suicide and Pere Ubu...I got introduced to Harry Toledo and the John Collins band: I won't go into all the details here,because I wrote extensive detailed liner notes for the Jungle Records UK re issue coming in April, with additional notes from Peter Crowley, which are worth the price of the album,not to mention all the added extra tracks, so I'll simply say that if you think you know everything about the late 70's downtown scene, some additional reading material and bonus tracks are headed your way. Down at Max's Kansas City, bay-bee!


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