Max’s Kansas City Plays Catchup with CBGB

Max’s Kansas City Plays Catchup with CBGB

When CBGB shifted the downtown’s center of gravity to the Bowery, the longtime hipster venue Max’s Kansas City had to play catchup. “CBGB was definitely in the forefront,” Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye said. “When Max’s started booking the local bands, they did it in emulation of CBGB. They borrowed all the bands and the concepts because they knew that’s what was happening.” Enumerating Max’s various cliques in the early 1970s, Tony Zanetta recalled, “I was part of the underground theater freak tribe, and there was also the Warhol people. And there was another group at Max’s, which was Danny Fields, Lisa and Richard Robinson—the rock writers, which then led to more of the rock and rollers going there because they were the most influential rock writers in the United States.” Patti Smith recalled that the scene at Max’s began shifting by the start of the 1970s. “One could still count on Holly Woodlawn sweeping in, Andrea Feldman dancing on the tabletops, and Jackie [Curtis] and Wayne [County] spewing cavalier brilliance, but increasingly their days of being the focal point of Max’s were numbered.” Kaye also began hanging out at Max’s during this time. “I started going there when the Velvet Underground played upstairs in the summer of ’70,” he said, “and that’s when I was able to establish my ‘regular’ credentials—so I could just walk in there.” Back when the Warhol crowd dominated Max’s back room, future CBGB regulars Joey Ramone and his brother Mickey Leigh didn’t really feel welcome there. “It was also not exactly a ‘We accept you, you’re one of us’ kind of thing with my brother and our friends,” Leigh said. “They were the beautiful people and we were us, from Forest Hills, Queens.”

From Chapter 30 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Max's Kansas City
213 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003