Max's Kansas City

Last updated
Max's Kansas City
Location Manhattan, New York
Coordinates 40°44′12″N73°59′19″W / 40.73667°N 73.98861°W / 40.73667; -73.98861 Coordinates: 40°44′12″N73°59′19″W / 40.73667°N 73.98861°W / 40.73667; -73.98861
OwnerMickey Ruskin, Tommy Dean Mills
Type Music venue, restaurant

Max's Kansas City was a nightclub and restaurant at 213 Park Avenue South in New York City, which became a gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists and politicians in the 1960s and 1970s. It was opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933–1983) in December 1965 and closed in 1981.



Max's I

Max's quickly became a hangout of choice for artists and sculptors of the New York School, like John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers, whose presence attracted hip celebrities and the jet set. [1] Neil Williams, Larry Zox, Forrest (Frosty) Myers, Larry Poons, Brice Marden, Bob Neuwirth, Dan Christensen, Ronnie Landfield, Ching Ho Cheng, Richard Bernstein, Peter Reginato, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Smithson, Joseph Kosuth, Brigid Berlin, David R. Prentice, Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Forakis, Peter Young, Mark di Suvero, Larry Bell, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Lee Lozano, Carlos Villa, Jack Whitten, Edward Leffingwell, Philip Glass, Max Neuhaus, Ray Johnson, Malcolm Morley, Lotti Golden, Marjorie Strider, Edward Avedisian, Carolee Schneemann, Dorothea Rockburne, Norman Bluhm, Kenneth Showell, Colette Justine, Lenore Jaffee, Tally Brown, Taylor Mead, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, René Ricard, Richard Gallo, Stephen Shore and Marisol were just some of the artists seen regularly at Max's. Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, art critics Lucy Lippard, Robert Hughes, Clement Greenberg, and Harold Rosenberg, art dealers Leo Castelli, and David Whitney, whose gallery was across the street, [2] writers Lillian Roxon, [3] Germaine Greer, [4] and architect Philip Johnson occasionally would be seen there as well. [5]

It was also a favorite hangout of Andy Warhol and his entourage, who dominated the back room. The Velvet Underground played there regularly, including their last shows with Lou Reed before he quit the band, in the summer of 1970. It was a home base for the glam rock scene, which included Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls, Wayne County, Dorian Zero and the Magic Tramps. While her band did not play there until the second incarnation of the club, Patti Smith and her boyfriend, artist Robert Mapplethorpe, visited Max's almost nightly from 1969 through the early 1970s. Smith and guitarist Lenny Kaye also performed there as a duo on New Year's Day 1974, opening for Phil Ochs. [6] Many bands made early appearances there. Bruce Springsteen played a solo acoustic set in the summer of 1972. [7] He also played sets at the club on November 6, 7 and 8, 1973. [8] It was the site of Aerosmith's first New York City gig. Columbia Records president Clive Davis later signed Aerosmith to his record label there.Bob Marley & the Wailers opened for Bruce Springsteen at Max's, commencing Marley's career on the international circuit. Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, John Herald, Garland Jeffreys, Sylvia Tyson, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Elliott Murphy and Country Joe were some of the musicians that played there. [9] Fashion designer Carlos Falchi was a busboy, [10] as was artist, publisher and filmmaker Anton Perich; [11] Deborah Harry was a waitress.[ citation needed ]

By the end of 1974, Max's had lost popularity among the art crowd and the glam era was in decline. The legendary establishment closed in December of that year. Ed Koch later had a campaign office in the building. [12] In 2015 photographer Marcia Resnick documented the people at Max's in her book Punks, Poets, and Provocateurs – New York City Bad Boys – 1977–1982.

Mickey Ruskin

Shortly after graduating from Cornell Law School, Mickey Ruskin opened The Tenth Street Coffeehouse, which featured nightly poetry readings. He then opened Les Deux Megots on East Ninth Street. His next endeavor was a bar called the Ninth Circle Steak House, a hangout for artists and musicians on West 10th Street. After opening Max's Kansas City, he opened similar restaurants including: the Longview Country Club [13] (later known as Levine's Restaurant) which was on 19th Street and Park Avenue South, diagonally across the street from Max's [14] and Max's Terre Haute, on the Upper East Side, but they did not do as well. His next club was The Locale on Waverly Place that he opened with partner Richard Sanders. Sanders kept The Locale and Mickey went on to The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club, on Chambers Street in TriBeCa. [12] Ruskin's last enterprise was Chinese Chance (nicknamed One U), a bar and restaurant that he opened with partner Sanders, located at 1 University Place in Greenwich Village. The French composer Duncan Youngerman and the poet and mail artist Adam Czarnowski both worked there as busboys. Lauren Hutton, Ellen Barkin, Gerard Malanga, Joe Jackson, Joni Mitchell, Nico, David Bowie and a score of other Lower Manhattan celebs hung out there, as well as the artists that formerly frequented Max's and the doormen of the Mudd Club. [15] Ruskin died in New York City on May 16, 1983, at the age of 50. [16]

Max's II

Max's Kansas City reopened in 1975 under the ownership of Tommy Dean Mills, who initially thought he would make it a disco. Peter Crowley, who had been booking the same early punk bands that played at CBGB and Mothers, a gay bar on West 23rd Street, was hired to book bands at Max's. [17]

Under Crowley's guidance the club became one of the birthplaces of punk, regularly featuring bands including Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, The Offs, The Fast, Suicide (who all appeared on the compilation album "1976 Max's Kansas City" [18] ), the New York Dolls, Patti Smith Group, the Ramones, The Mumps, the Heartbreakers, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads, Sniper, the Dictators, the Cramps, Mink DeVille, Misfits, Little Annie, the Fleshtones, the B-52's, the Stimulators, the Bongos and Klaus Nomi, as well as out-of-town bands such as the Runaways and the Damned. After the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious played all of his US solo gigs there. Devo played several shows at Max's in 1977, [19] including a show where they were introduced by David Bowie as "the band of the future." [20]

Max's original site closed in November 1981. Bad Brains were the headliners on the final night, with the Beastie Boys opening. The building survives and now houses a Korean deli. [21]

Max's III

Mills reopened the club again on January 27, 1998, at a new location—240 West 52nd Street—site of the former Lone Star Roadhouse. [22] [23] However, it closed shortly after opening.

The opening had been delayed due to litigation by Ruskin's widow, Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin, who claimed that she owned the trademark to Max's Kansas City and was granted a temporary restraining order to prevent use of the name. [24]


In 2000, Acidwork Productions, Inc., a production company founded by Neil Holstein (second cousin of Mickey Ruskin) began working in conjunction with Victoria Ruskin (Mickey Ruskin's daughter) on a feature-length documentary about Mickey Ruskin and his many establishments, including Max's Kansas City.[ citation needed ]

In 2001, Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin established the Max's Kansas City Project, in memory of her late husband. In the spirit of Ruskin's philosophy of helping artists in need, the project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit provides emergency funding and resources for individuals in the arts in crisis, empowers teens through the arts. [25]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle</i> 1973 studio album by Bruce Springsteen

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is the second studio album by American rock singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. It was recorded by Springsteen with the E Street Band at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York, and released on November 5, 1973 by Columbia Records. It includes the song "Rosalita ", the band's most-used set-closing song through 1985.

Max Weinberg American drummer

Max Weinberg is an American drummer and television personality, most widely known as the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. He is the father of Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg.

Roy Bittan US-American keyboardist

Roy J. Bittan is an American keyboardist and pianist, best known as a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Bittan, nicknamed The Professor, joined the E Street Band on August 23, 1974, and plays the piano, organ, accordion and synthesizers. Bittan was inducted as a member of the E Street Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014.

Patti Scialfa American singer

Vivienne Patricia Scialfa is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Scialfa has been a member of the E Street Band since 1984 and has been married to Bruce Springsteen since 1991. In 2014, Scialfa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the E Street Band.

Lillian Roxon was a noted Australian journalist and author, best known for Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia (1969).

Because the Night 1978 single by Patti Smith

"Because the Night" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith that was first released in 1978 as a single from the Patti Smith Group album Easter. This version rose to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as No. 5 in the United Kingdom, and helped propel sales of Easter to mainstream success.

Vincent "Vini" "Mad Dog" Lopez is an American drummer. Between 1968 and 1974 Lopez backed Bruce Springsteen in several bands, including Steel Mill and the E Street Band. He also played on Springsteen's first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Both during and after his time with the E Street Band, Lopez played drums with numerous Jersey Shore bands.

E Street Band Bruce Springsteens backing band

The E Street Band is an American rock band, and has been musician Bruce Springsteen's primary backing band since 1972. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

The Miami Horns are an American horn section best known for touring and recording with Southside Johnny, Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven and The Max Weinberg 7. They have also toured, performed or recorded with, among others, Diana Ross, Gary U.S. Bonds, Robert Cray, Bon Jovi, Cissy Houston, Joe Cocker, Dave Edmunds, Darlene Love, The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and Ricky Martin. As individuals, the various members have also worked with the likes of Aerosmith, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Power Station, Graham Parker and They Might Be Giants.

Mark Pender American musician

Mark "The Loveman" Pender is a trumpet player and vocalist who has played with Southside Johnny, Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen. Since 1993 he has performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien as a member of The Max Weinberg 7 and The Tonight Show Band. He formerly performed on Conan as a member of the Basic Cable Band from 2010-2018. He is a member of The Miami Horns, leads his own band, The Mark Pender Band, and plays regularly with La Bamba & The Hubcaps.

"Jungleland" is the closing song on Bruce Springsteen's 1975 album Born to Run. It contains one of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons' most recognizable solos. It also features short-time E Streeter Suki Lahav, who performs the delicate 23-note violin introduction to the song, accompanied by Roy Bittan on piano in the opening.

Live In Barcelona is a full concert video DVD of a performance by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band of their Rising Tour performance of October 16, 2002 at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Dan Christensen, was an American abstract painter He is best known for paintings that relate to Lyrical Abstraction, Color field painting and Abstract expressionism.

Radio Nowhere single

"Radio Nowhere" is the first single released from Bruce Springsteen's 2007 studio album Magic. It was awarded Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song at the Grammy Awards of 2008.

<i>Greatest Hits</i> (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band album) 2009 greatest hits album by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Greatest Hits is Bruce Springsteen's fifth compilation album, released as a limited edition first in the United States, Canada and Australia on January 13, 2009, exclusively through Wal-Mart retailers.

Working on a Dream Tour

The Working on a Dream Tour was a concert tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, which began in April 2009 and ended in November 2009. It followed the late January 2009 release of the album Working on a Dream. This was the first full E Street Band tour without founding member Danny Federici, who died during the previous tour in 2008, and the final tour for founding member Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011.

Anton Perich is an American filmmaker, photographer and video artist, born in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 1945. He has lived and worked in New York City since 1970.

Greg Calbi American mastering engineer

Greg Calbi is a Grammy Award-winning American mastering engineer at Sterling Sound, NJ.

Smutty Smiff

Smutty Smiff, also known as Stephen Dennis Smith, is a British musician, one of the founding members of Levi and the Rockats rockabilly punk band, from Los Angeles, California, United States, discovered by Leee Black Childers, tour manager of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and The Stooges.

The Upstage Club

The Upstage Club was a legendary coffee shop, music venue, and afterhours club in Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States and featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Influential musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bill Chinnock, Southside Johnny, David Sancious, Little Steven Van Zandt, Garry Tallent, Vini Lopez, and Danny Federici first honed their live performance skills at the club. It was where the Asbury Jukes, Steel Mill and the Blackberry Blues Band were formed.


  1. "December 31: Max's Kansas City". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  2. Bourdon, David (1 May 1970). "What's up in art? Follow the clan". LIFE . Retrieved 27 October 2018 via Google Books.
  3. "Lillian Roxon: Mother of Rock, book review" by Clinton Walker, The Sydney Morning Herald , 12 October 2002
  4. "High on Rebellion, overview of Sewall-Ruskin's book". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  5. Sewall-Ruskin 1998, pp. 2–105.
  6. Smith, Patti (2010). Just Kids. Harper Collins Publishing. ISBN   978-0-06-093622-8.
  7. Bruce Springsteen – Growing up (Max's Kansas City, NY 1972) on YouTube
  8. "Who makes music & where?". The New York Times . 1973-11-04. p. 174.
  9. Sewall-Ruskin 1998, pp. 210–229.
  10. Cathy Hoyrn, The Return of the King of Patchwork, The New York Times , October 29, 2009, Accessed October 30, 2009.
  11. Marina Galpirina, Anton Perich's Photos of Cultural Icons Partying in '70s New York, Flavorwire, July 5th, 2011, Accessed October 2, 2014.
  12. 1 2 Hart, Jon (2003-05-11). "Neighborhood Report: Union Square; Archetypal Host". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  13. LLC, New York Media (7 April 1969). "New York Magazine". New York Media, LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2017 via Google Books.
  14. "Les Levine". Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  15. Sewall-Ruskin 1998, pp. 246–279.
  16. Sewall-Ruskin 1998, p. 279.
  17. Nobakht, David (2004-12-15). Suicide: No Compromise. SAF Publishing. p. 66. ISBN   0-946719-71-3.
  18. "Various – 1976 Max's Kansas City". Discogs. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  19. "Devo Live Guide – 1973 to 1977\" . Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  20. "Happy Birthday, David Bowie!". 2010-01-09. Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  21. Seabrook, John (2010). "The Back Room". The New Yorker. Condé Nast (August 30, 2010): 26–27.
  22. Stamler, Bernard (1997-10-09). "Neighborhood Report: Midtown; Downtown Moves Uptown Redux". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  23. "New Yorkers & Co". The New York Times . 1998-01-04. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  24. DiGiacomo, Frank (1997-12-07). "Factory Kids in an Uproar Over the Whitney's Warhol Show". The New York Observer . Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  25. "The Max's Kansas City Project". Retrieved 1 August 2017.


Further reading