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(back to Music Travel)
The Weathermen’s Bomb Factory (18 West Tenth Street)
The Weathermen (aka the Weather Underground) grew out of the American student movement of the 60s, and took their name from a Bob Dylan song. Like many student terrorist groups that sprang up across the industrialised world in the 60s and 70s, the Weather Underground began with student idealism and protest, and ended with a commitment to smash the System through violence.
The Weathermen used this house on West Tenth St as a bomb factory in the early 70s, but before they could do any harm, one of their bombs accidentally exploded and three of the group were killed. Two others escaped, and remained on the run from the FBI until recently.
Buddy Holly’s Apartment (Brevoort Apartments, cnr 9th St and 5th Ave)
When Buddy Holly disbanded his band, the Crickets, in 1958, he moved from Texas to a $1000/month apartment on the 4th floor of the Brevoort Apartments. Holly spent a lot of time at the nearby Village clubs, soaking up the bohemian ambience, and he was in the midst of a creative renaissance when he died in a plane crash on tour in January 1959.
Electric Lady Studios (52 W 8th Street)
Jimi Hendrix bought this building in early 1968, while he was recording at the nearby (and now defunct) Record Plant on 3rd St, with the intention of opening his own nightclub. However, Eddie Kramer (one of the engineers working on the Electric Ladyland record) talked him out of the nightclub idea, and instead he built his own “state of the art” studio.
The studio was one of the first to use a 24 track mixing desk. However, Hendrix did not get to use the studio himself until 1970, when he recorded some unfinished tracks that were completed by session musicians after Hendrix died, and released on the Cry of Love album.
Other artists to use the studio included Patti Smith (recording her first single and the album Horses) David Bowie (who recorded Young Americans there), Led Zeppelin, glam rockers Kiss (Dressed To Kill), Stevie Wonder, and Culture Club.
Bob Dylan’s Apartment (161 W 4th St)
Shortly after arriving in New York in the early 60s and sleeping rough on other people’s living room floors, Bob Dylan rented this apartment. The cover of his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, pictures a youthful Dylan walking with his girlfriend Suze on 4th Street, just outside the apartment.
In the years that he lived here, Dylan was a regular customer at The Bagel cafe (#170), and Music Inn Records, both of which are still operating. The apartment building is now very run down. The Pink Pussycat, a sex shop that was located in the basement for a number of years, recently moved up the street to better premises.
The Bottom Line (15 W 4th St)
The club is often used by the music industry to showcase their latest hot prospects. Bruce Springsteen recorded a live album here in the early 70s, and Patti Smith played a series of sold out shows over a week in 1976. It is still a good place to check out rising bands that have the industry buzzing.
Frank Serpico’s House (7 Minetta Street)
Al Pacino played the whistle-blowing New York cop, in a memorable 70s movie. The real Serpico lived here while he was working as an undercover cop in the 60s. Nearby, at number 13, a fading sign for the popular Fat Black Pussy Club, which operated in the 50s and 60s, can still be seen painted on the wall
Bob Dylan’s MacDougal Street Apartment (94 MacDougal St)
Dylan moved back to New York from his Woodstock retreat in the early 70s. He lived on the lower two floors and had tenants on the upper floors. The building is located across road from Cafe Dante (at #79).
The Gaslight / Wreck Room (116 MacDougal St)
The Gaslight was a well-known Beat coffeehouse in the fifties, and then a famous folk club in the 60s (Bob Dylan performed Hard Rain there for the first time in 1962). A rock club called the Wreck Room currently occupies the building.
Many of the leading lights of the 60s Village Folk Scene gathered at the Kettle of Fish bar, which was located upstairs from The Gaslight. The bar still operates, but it has now moved its location to 30 W. 3rd Street (between MacDougal St & 6th Ave.).
Cafe Wha? (117 MacDougal St)
According to folk legend, when Bob Dylan hitchhiked to New York in January 1961, he headed straight to Cafe Wha? and performed a couple of songs. When they were finished, the MC urged audience members to put him up for the night.
A few years later, in 1966, Jimi Hendrix had a regular gig at the Cafe Wha? with his band The Blue Flames. The band included guitarist Randy California (later of Spirit) as well as legendary bass player Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter (later of Steely Dan).
Cafe Wha? still operates, though it has now moved next door to 115 MacDougal St. Number 117 is now occupied by the Olive Tree Cafe (upstairs) and the Comedy Cellar.
Cafe A Go Go (144 Bleecker St)
This is a newish club, and not to be confused with the famous sixties club that used to operate a few doors up Bleeker St, (at number 152). The old Cafe A Go Go frequently put on avant-garde “happenings”, and showcased rising stars, like the young Jimi Hendrix.
The Bitter End (147 Bleeker St)
The Bitter End is one of the last remaining original clubs from the 60s Village folk scene that is still operating. Patti Smith performed here in May 1975 to an audience that included one of her heroes, Bob Dylan.
Strand Books (828 Broadway)
Punk rock poets, Tom Verlaine, Patti Smith and Richard Hell, all worked here at one time or another.
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