2020 – Collections: 1980s NYC Club Invitations
(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on August 5, 2020)
Though this picture has little to do with the topic of 1980s invitations, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to meet my family in the ’80s (1988, to be specific) at my sister’s wedding. L to R, we are: Ed, Bob, Lorraine, Mom, Dad, Geri.
This may be my favorite family picture and it has been in a frame atop a cabinet for the last 3 decades, blocking whatever was behind it for all that time. I happened to look behind it recently and saw this:
I wasn’t sure what all this was, so after removing a layer of dust, I realized that they were all of the invitations – mainly from Manhattan clubs – that were either given to me or mailed to me during the 80s (with a few from the 70s and 90s).
There were 367 of them! I sorted about 70 of them into four groups (many of the 70 have multiple invites in them). In ascending order, the groups are:
A little background: the way my job usually worked was if I wanted to shoot a show, I’d contact a record company publicist or band management to arrange a photo pass to be left for me at Will Call. If it was a direct assignment, I’d let the magazine do the dirty work.
At some venues, club security knew me and I could just walk in. The Cat Club was always like that.
On other occasions, the clubs did all the work with invitations.
Let me state right off the bat that – as far as I know – these are not exclusive, sought-after invitations that will make anyone drool with envy. I’m sure that hundreds of each were sent out in a effort to not only get publicity, but also to fill clubs and sell drinks.
Most of these were ignored because the acts (or activity) were just not of any interest to me and I would immediately add them to the pile. Of ZERO interest were “After Work Parties” – mainly at a club called “SHOUT!” (“Doors open at 5pm”) – from a club promoter named Maggie Saloman – someone I don’t believe I ever met or had any interaction with and have no idea how she got my name and address, but she probably mailed me more invitations than anyone else. Apparently, she had no idea that my work started no earlier that 7pm (and sometimes started after 1am), so her efforts (and postage) were all for naught.
I should mention that some invites in ALL groups have great graphics and are included solely for that reason.
Here we go:
Maggie – always SHOUT!ing:
Some dress codes are not easy to comply with:
Some invites in this group were of mild interest or featured artists or bands that I may have been aware of, but really had no interest in shooting.
This may be the only invite I got in the mail from Studio 54 (years after its infamous heyday):
This was the second incarnation of the Ritz, which moved from E. 11th St to Studio 54’s old location in 1989:
This invite is a VERY thin piece of see-through plastic that was difficult to photograph:
Great graphics (click to enlarge):
Another confusing invite from Maggie Salomon……….the listed events obviously occurred elsewhere, so what was the reason to go to The Underground?
Maggie invites us to “celebrate” the movie, but not actually see it, so what’s the point?
Think any Native Americans might object to this invite today?
Might have been interesting………….
Same for Herbie’s Public TV gig. Don’t know the Poison Girls:
In this group were a lot of artists that maybe I really should have gone to see. Some of these have me scratching my head as to why I didn’t. Two possibilities: I had a conflict that night (I had to shoot a bigger act) or – in the case of the Limelight – some places were just not conducive to good concert photography, so it’s possible I was able to shoot the artist in a better venue for shooting on that particular tour.
Actually, there’s a third possibility: I may have just whiffed on it.
Click twice to fully enlarge this one. I’ve shot the Thompson Twins and the B-52s a few times, but neither of these invite events involved performances. The “Guitar Heroes Night” looked worthwhile, but not at the Limelight. I see that Maggie Salomon’s in the middle of things (and this collage), but it sounded WAY too boring to go to – especially on my birthday. Warren Haynes would have been worth shooting, but I had retired the year before.
I met Dave when the Blasters were on The Uncle Floyd Show in 1982. I’m not sure why this is in the pile since it’s not an invitation. I guess I just threw mailed cards relating to music there:
I photographed both Jason Bonham and Joe Satriani a few times, so took the nights off (or shot something else):
The Heaven’s Edge gig was in Philly (pass) and the Motorhead card is about them being the first metal band on The Tonight Show (how did I miss THAT?):
Hmmm………….I shot for TP for a few years……………I wonder why I didn’t go to this. Maybe because the bands didn’t interest me that much?
This might have been fun, but it was on the wrong side of the country:
Thor (Jon Mikl) was an old pal who I met on the Uncle Floyd Show in ’82 (and ’83). Jon was just about the nicest guy you could ever meet in the music industry. Girlfriend Rusty was no slouch either:
This looks like it would have been an interesting show to shoot (Grandpa Munster?). The only two people listed who I HAVE photographed were Abbie and Geraldo:
Can’t go wrong with these guys, but I don’t see anything that says that either of these acts would actually be performing:
Word Up! was published by the same company that gave us Faces magazine, which I had a lot of photos in. They were located about two miles from my home – no trek into Manhattan! When I shot the Grammys in 1988, I was on a Word Up! assignment. None of the acts pictured on the card were at the party, so I passed on it:
Not an invite, but an interesting card to find in the pile:
Another nice invite that I didn’t take advantage of:
Worthwhile event, but not in my photographic wheelhouse. Click twice to fully enlarge:
Lots of names here, but they were there as judges – not performers…………..pass:
These are three 3-page invites on top of each other (click TWICE to enlarge). You’ll find the names “Coati Mundi” and “August Darnell” in the first two rows. I shot them together in 1986 (taken from my site, below invites):
I’ve photographed BeBe Buell (3rd row) a couple of times: (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=7764, one photo) and wrote about her (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=6433, one paragraph) and also shot her in performance once, but not at this Limelight gig.
Of this lot, I’ve photographed Bo, Billy, Steve, and Kenny, but thankfully, not at the Limelight:
I’ve shot Richie Stotts a bunch of times with the Plasmatics and once with King Flux (on the same night I shot Liberace!) and Marc Bell with the Ramones (click to enlarge):
These are two different Limelight/Willy DeVille invites:
I don’t even remember this band with all former Cheap Trick members:
But I DO remember Chris Spedding playing in Robert Gordon’s band – especially the night Bruce Springsteen showed up to join them in Asbury Park (where else?) in 1979 (look under “Robert Gordon” on http://bobleafe.com/):
Something a little different from the Limelight: a matchbook invitation (4.5” x 10.5” when opened (click twice to fully enlarge). Shown are the front and back and when you open it, you get what’s on the right side, Cab Calloway – complete with “matches”:
Here are two Buster Poindexter invitations for two different venues (click to enlarge first one):
Again – no movie to watch, so why bother? I DO have to say, though, that Rodney was fun to photograph on the Robert Klein Radio Hour tapings (on my site under “Klein”). Click to enlarge:
Both of these came after my 1992 retirement. Dalle was a French photo agency I was with for a while via a foreign woman named Victoria-something who screwed me out of a thousand dollars.
Interesting graphics and names:
Speaking of interesting names, I think I worked with about half of these publicists, but there’s ONE name missing and she’s reading this right now…………
It just ain’t right, I tell ya!
With a couple of exceptions, these are the shows/events I actually attended and shot: fewer than 20 of the original 367 invitations – about 5% (what a snob!).
Besides the stories, I’ve included some of the shots I took at them.
Crystal Ship was a fairly-popular local Doors cover band. I shot this show, but I don’t recall anything about a backstage party for them and I have no backstage pictures from that night. So why do I have this invitation? I attended, but there was no party.
Star File was my long-time agency, but I don’t recall this event and probably just didn’t have a compelling reason to go (Bob the Snob strikes again!).
DS Magazines included Tiger Beat (which I didn’t contribute much to) and a slew of others to which I did. They were originally a couple of miles away from me in Cresskill, NJ, and then moved to Teaneck, where I lived. When they needed something fast, I got the call. Cushy gig.
D.S. was part of Edrei Communications, so when the boss sent me this invitation to a barbeque in ultra-wealthy Alpine, NJ, I quickly accepted:
Danceteria was never my cup of tea, but Queen was, so I decided to go. What a waste of time! The band had some big name official photographer (I’d post it if I recalled who the dickhead was) who was apparently very insecure. I don’t know how he did it, but he got club security to throw out all the invited photographers! This was the only time in my career something like that ever happened to me. What a baby!
I was friendly with the people at Megaforce Records, so when they sent me this invite, I made it my business to be there. I was not familiar with Tribe after Tribe, but I took some good shots, never sold any and never heard of them again:
Now this was a fun night! I had worked with the band earlier that year on an exclusive shoot at the Ritz, which included Joey DeMaio’s private workout regimen with his personal trainer on the venue floor and backstage band pictures with and without friends. Now they’re giving me an open bar to shoot their show at point-blank range? Man, did that fuel produce some shutter-finger power…………what a blast!
I had shot a lookalikes event in 1982 that featured an amazing Marilyn Monroe/Clark Gable duo, so when I got this invite 3 years later, I had a reason to go.
Actually, I had two reasons to go because the authors featured in the invite – Marie Morreale and Susan Mittelkauf – were magazine editors, to whose mags I frequently contributed. Make that three reasons to go: if I recall correctly, I also had 9 photos in their “Cyndi Lauper Scrapbook”
And here are Marie and Susan at the event with their Cyndi book:
Recognize any of these “people”?
Huey Lewis played at Pier 84 on the Hudson River and had an after-show party at the Sports Training Institute. That only makes sense if you realize that his current album at the time was called “Sports”:
From my site:
A shoot at the Kit Kat Club with a good band and friendly Club employees. You didn’t have to ask me twice to shoot this event:
Same thing with an offstage shoot with Frank Zappa at the Limelight (but for entirely different reasons):
From my site:
I was interested in the Manny’s shoot way before I read that it was to be held at the Rainbow Grill at 30 Rock – 65 floors up. I got there nice and early for the scenery. Too bad it wasn’t held 5 floors higher at Top of the Rock, where no windows would be there to cause the reflection problems I encountered 5 floors below (complain, complain). Click to enlarge:
From my site:
This is a good time to salute publicist Ren Grevatt, who I knew since the mid-70s (he was John Scher’s publicist and I shot for John’s venues, so……………..)
Ren could be kind of gruff at times (“You STILL have that rock and roll hairdo?”), but he got the job done.
“We’re Having A Party” is a Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes cover of a Sam Cooke song and is the SSJ/Jukes theme. At the time, the band owned New Year’s Eve at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ (my house!). Hungry (and confetti’d) me is shown after the show in that lobby:
Holly George-Warren hit on a good thing with her “365” line of books and I hit on a baker’s dozen number of pix in the Punk one (didn’t do too badly in the “Grateful Dead 365” one either):
(BTW – Manitoba’s is run by Handsome Dick Manitoba from the Dictators.)
Wicked Maraya – pic and story stolen right off my site:
So I couldn’t make it to LA for the RIP magazine party……………..no big deal because they also had one on Long Island. Sebastian Bach and Michael Monroe “made it”, too:
This was a unique gathering. Have you ever attended a party on a moving subway train on which the public was not allowed? This celebration was for a 4.5” x 5.5” publication called “Subway Sagas”.
The first picture (click to enlarge) shows everything that came in the mailed envelope: the left side shows the book and the center/right side images show the back and front of the invitation the book came in. The second pic shows the invitation’s inside message and party instructions:
These 3 pix show a hastily-taken exterior shot as we boarded the subway, part of the party band in the subway car and some drunken bum who’s still holding what’s left of his 34th drink (talk about authenticity!):
This was a WNEW-FM press conference to announce an event called “Shootout at the Hard Rock” – a fun gig that lasted for a week. Station DJ Scott Muni was going to broadcast his afternoon show from the Hard Rock Cafe Monday to Friday, October 28 to November 1, 1985. He announced the list of guests for that week at the PC. All I had to do was show up at the Hard Rock each afternoon and fire away – fish-in-a-barrel style.
At the end of the week, there would be a fantastic ending called “Shootout in the Sky” that I wrote about on bobleafe.com and where I took what is probably the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life (it’s the one picture that has always hung over my sofa). It’s really a must-see pic and must-read story (he says modestly). I would urge you to go to my site and enter 18-001 in the search box. If you never look at anything else on my site, look at this one.
Here is the invite and a picture I took at the PC that shows Muni, Miami Steve Van Zandt and a “Shootout at the Hard Rock Cafe” sign in front of the podium:
Who can resist a Monkees press conference? Not me, apparently:
Speaking of press conferences…………..Oh boy! An invitation to the press conference for “VH-1 Presents Classic SuperFest” – featuring all the bands you liked two decades before:
The thing I recall most about this PC was a shot I got of someone I really didn’t expect to see there – NY Giants quarterback Phil Simms (and I still don’t know why he was there).
But I got a recent surprise when I found a shot of someone I thought I had never photographed before I “finally” did in 2019. You DO know this guy and you know MANY of his huge hits. He’s on the left next to Flo & Eddie………..I mean, Mark and Howard – the two main Turtles:
STILL don’t know who he is? Good – now you’ll have to go to these two posts:
Somebody who knows that star very well sent me this final invitation (click to enlarge):
“Carcrunching” refers to a video shoot I did on a very cold (and very late) night two months prior to the Smokey’s event, which included The Real Roxanne:
It was shot downtown where Area (club) was located. As I recall, the club name was changed to “Rocket” for the video.
Do you remember “Bigfoot” – a monster 4-wheeler that crunched cars in arena shows? It was the star of this video shoot:
And here’s the “Leader of the Pack” video mentioned in the invite and it shows all the car-crunching:
OK – that’s it for invitations, except I invite your comments if you happened to see anything interesting.
I’m gonna finish where I started by tying up a loose end – I didn’t credit the photographer of my favorite family picture. The back of the picture says his name is R.E. Parker and, apparently, he’s a vegan: