The Story of New York’s First (?) Punk Club: Max’s Kansas City

When it comes to the punk clubs of New York City, CBGB gets most of the glory, probably because the place had a better logo for their t-shirts. But the truth is that CB’s came second to Max’s Kansas City, which operated in NYC from 1965. The Daily Beast has this story on the place.

‘Same As It Ever Was, Same As It Ever Was,’ a lyric by the Talking Heads, former regulars at Max’s Kansas City, caught the mood at the Bowery Electric during their celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of that long-defunct club.

Max’s was on Park Avenue South, and from 1965 to the early 70s had been a crucial nightly haunt for New York’s small, intense, artworld.

This event, though. was a four nighter celebrating the second incarnation of Max’s as a Punk venue and it looked just right.

Ageing hippies tend to have wandering hair and benevolent expressions. Punks now have pretty much the vibe they did back then and benevolence is seldom on the menu.

Consider Joey Kelly, a mountainous singer, who took the stage with his band, former regulars at Max’s, on the opening night.

Wikipedia informs us that Kelly, aside from singing, has taken part in such endurance competitions as the Ultramarathon, Ironman Triathlon or Tough-Guy-Race and the Ultraman competition in Hawaii, 1998, where he was disqualified for kicking somebody in the head.

In 2008 he was in a 250-kilometer desert race, coming in fourth, first in his age group. I doubt whether anybody from the Grateful Dead, the Strawberry Alarm Clock or Country Joe and the Fish can match that.

Mickey Ruskin, the creator of Max’s, had sold up in December 1974. Tommy Dean Mills, a New York club owner, read abut the closing in the Paris edition of theHerald Tribune and figured that the famous dive might make it as a disco.

Mills learned that Con Ed had a lien on the place for the electricity bill, settled, bought the place and installed a disco cover band.

Continue reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.