...and one which bit the dust long before the (pending) petering out of its more famous neighbor.
GREAT GILDERSLEEVES--331 Bowery between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Presumably named in honor of the '40s radio show and film series The Great Gildersleeve. In Punk magazine's "Summer 1979 Punk Club Guide" [see Punk: The Original (New York: Trans-High Publishing, 1996)], Gildersleeves is given a 3-star, "This place is smokin!" rating. But to my frustration I've yet to locate any concrete background info about the joint--ownership, exact years of operation, history of the building, atmospheric accounts, etc. Thus the best I can offer is a brief list of some bands who played there. Most gig dates are in the '79-'83 range, so I gather the place didn't see the other side of 1984.
On April Fool's Night, 1979, Elvis Costello and the Attractions played a whirlwind three shows at three separate venues--the Bottom Line, Lone Star Cafe, and Gildersleeves. This was around the time of Elvis' notorious denigrating remarks about Ray Charles; here's a Rolling Stone article which describes the controversy and mentions the extra security needed for the G.G. gig (including a couple of Hell's Angels recruited from around the corner).
Public Image, Ltd., April 22, 1980--a couple of days after a show at the Palladium.
The J. Geils Band, April 27, 1980. That night's rendition of "Love Stinks" was later released on a 12" promo picture sleeve. Listen to the mp3, which starts off with the club's outgoing phone message regarding the gig--apparently the band was billed as Juke Joint Jimmy and His Houseparty Rockers.
Starz, sometime in 1980--read one fan's memories here.
Sonic Youth played the club on June 3, 1981 (their second show ever, as openers for Glenn Branca), and on June 12 the following year. Seems Thurston Moore played there again on February 20, 1983, as a member of Even Worse (which included future Big Takeover honcho Jack Rabid).
Thrash guitarist Neil Turbin played the club as a member of the Newrace and Anthrax. Dig some Village Voice ads for a couple of his '82 gigs here--one of them lists Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers on October 2. Thunders & Co. are also known to have played there on November 27 and New Year's Eve of '82, and February 26, 1983. Here are sound engineer Jimmy Miller's recollections of one of these shows.
The Tickets, various dates in '82/83.
Black Flag, March 13, 1983.
Husker Du, April 17, 1983. Robert Christgau was there and maintains that fewer than a dozen witnesses were present. (Also dig this Christgau state-of-the-scene Voice article dated October 23, 1978, which discusses several noted clubs of the time.)
The Beastie Boys, still in their hardcore period, April 24, 1983. The flyer for this show also lists Reagan Youth, the Blessed, Artless, and You Suck, and further announces a Circle Jerks gig for the following week. Then a "teenage shutterbug," my pal Justina snapped a photo of the Jerks at that show--and also got a few shots of Heart Attack on some other Gildersleeves night.
This flyer for a May 29, 1983 show with S.S. Decontrol also lists several big-name hardcore shows for June of that year, including the Misfits, Minor Threat, G.B.H., and D.O.A. (who also did at least one other date on December 6, 1983).
Other bands/performers associated with the club include Iggy Pop, Another Pretty Face, the Flashcubes, Thundertrain, the Nihilistics, 15 60 75, the Savage Skulls, Amtrak, Kraut, Jackal, the Blind Dates, the Privates, Marshall Crenshaw, Gemini Jones, Doug Wahlberg, the Laughing Dogs, the Crumbsuckers, the Brats, and these unknown mudwrestlers.
One of the few bits of commentary about the club that I was able to find comes from Bruno Ravel of Danger Danger: "I started going there when I was 14 and continued for years until they closed down. It was a great scene. It gave me the bug to become a rock musician. Sure, I loved to play and loved music but hanging out in this club was like being backstage at a concert. Totally decadent, trashy and cool. I wish I could go back, even for one night." The band's 2000 album was entitled The Return of the Great Gildersleeves; its cover photo was taken on the same block where the club had been.
Lord knows what's at 331 Bowery now--probably a condo construction site. But here are a couple of blog entries about the NYC club-closure issue, here's the site for the club currently most at stake, and here's an essay on the history of NY hardcore written by Uncle Al of Murphy's Law.
UPDATE 12/29/2012: Unbeknownst to me at the time I wrote this post, the building still exists. A while back I posted a bunch of 1977 and 1978 Gildersleeves ads from the Voice. Here's a 2009 post about the club from the Ffanzeen blog. A Gildersleeves reunion show was supposed to happen in November 2012, but was cancelled due to Superstorm Sandy. And the place gets a brief mention on page 76 of Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir (New York: Atria Books, 2012): "In Blue Angel, we recorded expensive, bad demos to send around to record labels and played clubs like Great Gildersleeves, which was (physically and sort of symbolically) right down the block from CBGB. Gildersleeves was never the place, never the 'scene.' Instead it was always the corny rock place that had the straighter bands."