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August 21, 2022

40 Candid Photographs of Rock Stars Hanging Out at Max’s Kansas City in the Early 1970s

“The back room” at Max’s was the coolest, hippest place to be in the city circa 1972, and the great club, owned by Mickey Ruskin, was the home away from home for a slew of rock’s most infamous players and their fabulous counterparts.

Max’s opened at the end of 1965, and quickly attracted its New York School neighbors – artists, painters, sculptors, fashion designers, and then Andy Warhol. After Andy and his Factory crew regulars started to frequent there, others quickly followed.

The Glam Scene of the early 1970s brought some of rock’s elite to Max’s, not just to dine on Lobster and chick peas and luxuriate in the back room, but also to perform. The New York Dolls, The Stooges and Aerosmith were regulars, and developed quite a following based on their early performances there. Bruce Springsteen, Gram & Emmylou, Tom Waits and many others passed through in the early 1970s, before Max’s became the stomping ground for predominantly punk rock and new wave groups in the late 1970s (after Mickey was no longer the owner).

Mickey Ruskin was a unique club owner in that he was a true patron of the arts; Lou Reed fondly recalls living on Mickey’s hospitality at Max’s to keep him alive: “Mickey, thin, hawk-faced, dark stringy hair severely parted and forever hanging over his right eye, was personally responsible for my survival for three years because he fed me every day. While I sometimes showed up for the five PM buffet, it was actually the ‘tab’ that made it possible for me and a small army of other artists to exist just to the left of the line that defines more extreme modes of criminality… People thought the Velvet Underground really existed, this appendage of Warhol’s. But we were broke, totally and completely and always had been. Money went for drugs or drink—not food. And there was never any money. But there was always Mickey and Max’s. We had a home in Mickey’s game room, this extension of his psyche, his home. He was interested in artists. He liked them. He wanted them to have a place. He wanted them to survive…”

But it wasn’t just the well-known faces, it was also those Max’s regulars that, infamous at one time, are relatively unknown, people like Wayne County and tragic Warholian Andrea Feldman, who, at 24, committed suicide by jumping off a building. There were so many fabulous people, and great photographers like Anton Perich, Leee Black Childers, and Danny Fields were there to capture it all...












































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