Max's Kansas City  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Max's Kansas City was a nightclub (upstairs) and restaurant (downstairs) at 213 Park Avenue South, between 17th and 18th Streets, in New York City. Opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933-1983) in December 1965, it was a hangout for artists and sculptors of the New York School, sculptor John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers, whose presence attracted hip celebrities and the jet set, and also a favorite spot of Andy Warhol's entourage. The Velvet Underground played their last shows with Lou Reed at Max's in the summer of 1970. It was homebase for the shortlived Glitter rock scene that included David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and, of course, Lou Reed. This was the first place many bands began their careers. Bruce Springsteen played a solo acoustic set there in the summer of 1972. Both Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played their first New York City gigs there. Bob Marley & The Wailers opened for Springsteen there at the beginning of Marley's career, in 1973. Max's Kansas City's popularity declined after pop art had transformed into punk rock, and the legendary establishment closed in December, 1974.

The club reopened in 1975 under new ownership and - under the direction of Peter Crowley - Max's Kansas City became one of the birthplaces of punk rock, featuring bands like Cherry Vanilla, The New York Dolls, Blondie, The Ramones, The Misfits, The Dictators (who were falsely rumored to have been banned from playing there), Wayne County, The Fleshtones, and Patti Smith, as well as out-of-town bands in the same vein such as The Runaways and The Damned. After the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious played many of his solo gigs there.

Max's Kansas City closed its doors for good in November 1981. The building survives and now houses a deli.

In 2001, Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin established the Max's Kansas City Project in memory of the late Mickey Ruskin who fathered two of her children. To honor the spirit inherent in 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 and empowers teens through the arts. [1]

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