When I was twenty-four the best club that ever existed was CBGB’s, twenty years later it was the Bottom Line. The differnce wasn’t the music, the difference was my age. In my twenties I wanted to hang out till four in the morning playing pinball and drinking balck and cokes, and fourty four I want a 730 show and out by 945 for the second show, good burgers, better fries, 400 people capacity, all great sight lines and very intimate room.
The Bottom Line, on Broadway and West 4th street, the heart of the Village and hardly surprisingly, the heart of NYU, opened in Bruary 1974 by owners .Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky and lasted for decades till NYU raised their rents out of business in 2004.
I went there countless times. I saw June Carter Cash (her son lead the band) and heard her tell stories about dating Presley and Marlon Brando, singing songs from Wildflowers and her large catalogue, and smiling to the side where her husband stood off stage.Carter is gone now.
That was probably my most memorable night at the Bottom Line but through the years I saw many wonderful shows there: Dave Davies, Marshall Crenshaw many times but once opening for Dave Edmunds. Edmunds told an hysterical story about Rockpile playing the Bottom Line on their first US tour and Keith richards getting on stage with them. At first Edmunds is excited by Richards is completely messed up and he can’t play, he doesn’t know the songs, and he won’t get off the stage. Edmunds unplugs Richards guitar and eventually Richards passes out on the stage. The Bottom Line was the kind of place where those things happened and that later the same people came back to tell the audience about it.
I saw Ronnie Spector’s Christmas concert twice. Once at the Bottom Line and once at BB Kings. The BB Kings was nothing much but the Bottom Line, with Joey Ramone joining Ronnie on stage was just a complete thrill.
There was no VIP section at the Bottom Line though some tables were reserved. The result of that is you might find yourself sitting a couple of tables down from Eric Clapton, as I did at a former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor concert. And an expensive concert was $50 -the average cost was $20 to $25. No internet, no credit cards, cash only. I stood in line for an hour for tix to Billy Idol. Worth every penny and every minute
The Bottom Line is gone and greatly missed. Joe’s Pub is its ancestor and Joe’s Pub is a fabulous place to see bands but the programing is a touch more eclectic. It’s probably my favorite room right now but as much as it might be a great place it isn’t the Bottom Line. The greatest New York night club ever..