There where many mainstays at Max’s Kansas City back in the early mid to late 70’s. When I was either working as a production hand or just hanging out at Max’s, One of my favorite’s was  “Mink DeVille”. Just a cool sharp rock n roll band with an ethnic punky flair that combined Spanish, Cajun and zydeco influences that was all new to me. Willy Deville, the leader of the band brought in this style that was unique as it was sharp and cutting edge for that time period. The band drew from many sources including Latin music, French creole ballads, New Orleans funk and Cajun accordion music. Just down right fun music to listen and dance too! Willy was born William Borsey in Stamford, Conn. and at a young age of 17 starting hanging out in Greenwich Village and down on the lower east side where he learned to play guitar and started performing. He was in several bands before he formed the Mink Deville band. I couldn’t even tell you and don’t even know the names of those bands Willy played in and what influenced him in those early stages. Willy was a sharp dresser and played the part to the “T”. From his dark slim tight fitting suits, thin tie and his pointed black dress shoe’s – he screamed Rock and Roll in a punkish sort of way.

The group recorded their first album “Cabretta” in 1977. Two of its tracks,  “Spanish Stroll”,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5LveBIjg3o – and O and Moon Martin’s, “Cadillac Walk” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mz3G5xaECs became minor hits but gave the band a springboard into a fairly modest model of fame in the New York music scene.

For the most part that was my experience with Willy & Mink Deville, although I thoroughly enjoyed the band and their front man “Willy Deville”.

Sadly, Willy DeVille died on August 9th of 2009, of pancreatic cancer. His adventurous forays into rhythm and blues, Cajun music and salsa made him one of the most original figures of the New York punk scene of the 1970s, He was 58 when he died.

Note: I found all these pictures from the internet – as I have none of my own from that time period, as who the hell carried a camera around with them back in the late 70’s and 80’s and of course cell phones did not exist! So thanks to all who took these pictures and full credit is deserved.

I was introduced to Jimi back when I was working at Max’s Kansas City in New York City. My friend John Kessler was running the sound and production and ask me to work with him at the club. I became a kind of a fixture working most of the time on the off nights and filling in on the weekends. John was doing some work with Jimi or Zhivag’s (thats what I called him) playing with his band and doing some sound recordings. He was always up beat and fun always fooling around. Below is a picture of some of the people in his band -Jimi next to Lisa (the blond girl) and John in the far upper right hand of the photo, Vinnie the drummer right below Lisa. For the life of me I can’t remember the other people’s names.

I remember at that time he was mainly playing a Gibson Thunderbird guitar and would switch over to acoustic guitar. I got the picture below from the Facebook post Lisa posted. That’s the Gibson Firebird! In those days we all needed money so we did odd jobs on the side between gigs or working at the clubs- we had a Job in East Williston for this office to build out some new walls to separate the office space. Jimi would come all the way out from the city by train -thank god the train let off in the East Williston train station in which the office that we were working at literally was behind the train station. He would come bopping in smoking a cigarette and would do pretty much do nothing throughout the day. At one point we had to spackle and sand the walls down and we were all wearing face masks, at the end of the day Jimi was covered in spackle dust from head to toe except for the ring around his mouth and nose, time to go-Jimi just jump on the first train back to the city dust and all, what a sight!

The last gig I remember doing with him and his band was at My Fathers Place in Roslyn. We put on a big production with great stage lighting and Fog Machines. Pretty much that was the last I saw of him as in life people move on. Happen to be googling on the web and typed in his name and found that he had passed back in 2018. I figured to put down a few memories about Jimi as he was a talented good dude and it was a time stamp in my life, Great Memories!

Enjoy Fire with Fire by Jimi Zhivago

RIP Jimi Zhivago

Did I mention I mixed the Tuff Darts at Max’s? That was a cool rock-a-billy type band.for-the-love

There was so many really good bands and artist’s that had marginal success at best like the Robert Gordan & the Tuff Darts. Some of them had an album or 2 out, some of them got F’d up on drugs and other crutches and died at an early age and a lot of them never amounted to anything but a flash in time and some just faded into the upholstery never to be heard or seen again.

The John Collins band I was particular close to as I was a close friend with the Guitar player Mr. Gary Blankenburg or Blank as we called him. There was some other bands that in my opinion really sucked but for some reason was part of the underground punk music scene like the Ramones and the Dead Boys, in which one night when I mixed those idiots (the Dead Boys) part of the act was Stiv Bators the lead singer raped his girlfriend on stage. That was the shock appeal that that genre was looking for, now you have some looking back and immortalizing them as pioneers of the punk generation. To each there own!

 

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Stiv Bators and the Dead Boys at Max’s Kansas City

There were some artist’s that was always pleasant and fun to be around and deal with, like David Johansen from the New York Dolls, later to have a decent solo career. Also another favorite was Mink DeVille, just cool sharp rock n roll with some ethnic flair.

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David Johansen – New York Dolls

Another gentlemen or let me rephrase that another gender bender was Wayne County who became Jayne County and the Back and Street Boys – Fun and interesting, always going out of his/her way to say hello! That was all part of the fabric that was Max’s Kansas City in the 70’s.

Wayne County concert poster from the late 70's
Wayne County aka Jayne County and the Back Street Boys

Note: I found all these pictures from the internet – as I have none of my own from that time period, as who the hell carried a camera around with them back in the late 70’s and 80’s and of course cell phones did not exist! So thanks to all who took these pictures and full credit is deserved.

 

 

 

 

 

This is were I got my first indoctrination to the underground music scene. I was 17 and was in awe of everything I saw and it was so cool and different to me, an Alice in wonderland rabbit hole of fantasy and stark reality. John Kessler introduced me to this Max’s scene as he was doing the production management there at the time and he needed someone to fill in some nights to set up the bands and shows. First I started just setting up the mic’s and rolling up the mic cords when the bands finished. Before you know it I was at the mixing board mixing bands during the weekdays when John was doing something else. I really took to mixing and working with the bands as I was starting my first band myself and it gave me some great exsposure to many different types and genres of music I really was not exsposed to before. As time progressed I started to fill in on the weekends mixing more headline name bands of that time frame. Didn’t really realize at that time when I mixed the Ramones that they would become an influence in the punk rock scene. I really thought they sucked, when I was trying to mix them at sound check and Johnny & Dee went over to their amps and ran their hands over all the volumes and tone knobs to 10. I was like, “what the fuck”, how are you suppose to mix this. I turned to John and he said to me, ” just put the vocals and drums up as loud as you can without feedback and sit back and that’s the mix”. I got to work with a bunch of name bands at that time that were all on the cusp of making some headway in the music business. As said, the Ramones, Blondie, The Dead Boys, Mink DeVille, David Johansen, John Collins Band among other bands that were great but didn’t make it, or should I say just did not get recognized at that time. What a blast for a 17 year old living the rock and roll life style to the fullest.

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At 17 was starting to live and breath the moment