The measure of a man’s life, suggested Allan Pepper at the end of yesterday’s “musical memorial” for this late Bottom Line nightclub partner and boyhood friend Stanley Snadowsky–who died at 70 on Feb. 25 from complications of diabetes–could be computed in the way he left the world, in the people he inspired along the way.
Neither Pepper nor Snadowky were ones to take center stage during the 30 years (1974-2004) of the fabled Greenwich Village showcase club’s existence, and Pepper clearly struggled with his emotions as he asked a packed invite-only crowd at midtown club The Cutting Room to look around them for evidence of Snadowsky’s impact.
Sure enough, there were Bottom Line favorites including NRBQ’s Terry Adams, Christine Lavin, Meat Loaf/Turtles drummer Joe Stefko, Julie Gold, and of course, Darlene Love, whose mid-‘80s biographical musical Portrait Of A Singer, was produced and performed there, after she starred in Leader Of The Pack: The Songs Of Ellie Greenwich, which launched at The Bottom Line and ended up on Broadway.
Sitting with Love was her stalwart backup singer Ula Hedwig, herself a Bottom Line regular with and without Love. Near them were May Pang, New York promoter Ron Delsener, and other music business luminaries from the Bottom Line’s heyday.
After Bottom Line performance photos taken by Peter Cunningham, Bob Gruen and Ebet Roberts screened to favorite Snadowsky recordings, the program, hosted by veteran New York air personality and Bottom Line supporter Meg Griffin, commenced, speakers including Vin Scelsa, another celebrated New York air personality who hosted the Bottom Line’s popular In Their Own Words: A Bunch Of Songwriters Sittin’ Around Singing songwriters series; Carol Klenfner, the club’s first publicist; and New Jersey promoter John Scher.
Composer/arranger/songwriter Artie Butler, Snadowsky’s grade school friend, spoke via video. Journalist Ira Mayer recounted the pre-Bottom Line days when Snadowsky and Pepper held business meetings by a parking meter outside Gerdes Folk City on West Third Street, and related how the musical question “How’s the show?,” when asked by Pepper, meant “How’s the act?,” whereas Snadowsky was asking, “What percent of the seats are filled?”
The American Diabetes Association’s Elaine Curran spoke on behalf of the Stanley E. Snadowsky Wound Care Memorial Fund, established to promote awareness and fund research for the integral component of the disease. Leslie Snadowsky introduced a photographic tribute to her father.
Performers included Al Kooper, David Bromberg, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, and The Stan-tasticks—a one-time only version of Rockapella, whose lead singer Sean Altman noted how The Bottom Line made possible both an important part of New York City and contemporary music in general.
A champagne toast to Snadowsky had Pepper sharing stories of the 6th Precinct’s squad car delivery of Snadowsky’s lunch order during the Bottom Line’s construction, and his partner’s creativity in collecting record company debts.
Griffin then noted how Snadowsky and Pepper had vowed to never let David Johansen play the club again after his New York Dolls trashed the dressing room in 1974–only to host him in all his manifestations (The David Johansen Group, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blue). Johansen, accompanied by guitarist Brian Koonin, delivered a new, untitled song—a moving meditation on dying.
Closing the event, Brooklyn’s Dixieland-styled Red Hook Ramblers, who unite Snadowsky’s beloved hometown and New Orleans, played a traditional “second line” brass tune, as they had done at the memorial’s start.
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