It was at Max’s Kansas City that the pioneering electronic rock duo known as Silver Apples made a name for themselves downtown. Consisting of keyboardist Simeon Coxe and drummer Danny Taylor, Silver Apples regularly performed in Max’s second-floor room starting in 1968. Coxe said they were the only band that Ruskin would allow to play there at the time (turning down overtures from the Band and other high-profile artists). “We were just wild and crazy enough to fit his whole concept of the restaurant,” he said, “so we became the house band up there for the longest time, pretty much for a whole year.” Coxe grew up in New Orleans, and around 1960 he decided to move to New York City and become an artist. “Back then, the whole Lower East Side was pretty much inhabited by artists, writers, musicians, poets, and actors,” Coxe said, “and there were all kinds of part-time jobs available.” He recalled working at the American Kennel Club proofreading dog certificates along with up-and-coming painter Robert Rauschenberg and future members of the Velvet Underground. He first played rock ’n’ roll covers around Greenwich Village in the Random Concept and later joined the Overland Stage Band, which included drummer Danny Taylor. “Silver Apples were way ahead of their time,” said Ruby Lynn Reyner. “They were the original electronic band who had a huge, bulky, humongous piano-sized computer.” Coxe’s primitive synthesizer looked like a DIY spaceship control panel with several oscillators mounted on plywood. Taylor’s unique, pulsating drumming style developed because it was hard for Coxe to use his electronic equipment to play bass lines, which was the traditional way drummers locked into an instrumental groove.
From Chapter 18 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore