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The Bitter End





The Bitter End is a 230-person capacity nightclub, coffeehouse and folk music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village. It opened in 1961 at 147 Bleecker Street under the auspices of owner Fred Weintraub. The club changed its name to The Other End in June 1975. However, after a few years the owners changed the club's name back to the more recognizable The Bitter End. It remains open under new ownership.

History

An earlier club, The Cock and Bull, operated on the same premises with the same format, in the late 1950s. The poet and comedian Hugh Romney (who later became known as Wavy Gravy) read there.

The Bitter End was originally a coffeeshop. According to The New York Times, "The Bitter End, which opened in 1961, considers itself to be New York’s oldest rock club and built a legendary reputation after showcasing young performers like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor and comedians like Woody Allen and Billy Crystal." At the club, Bob Dylan played pool, watched performances, and occasionally performed circa 1961.

During the early 1960s, the club hosted folk music "hootenannies" every Tuesday night, featuring many performers who have since become legendary. During its heyday The Bitter End showcased a wide range of talented and legendary musicians, comedians, and theatrical performers.

In 1968 Paul Colby (1917–2014), who began his career as a song plugger for Benny Goodman’s publishing company, and went on to work for Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, and Guy Lombardo, became the manager and booking agent at The Bitter End, and in 1974 he purchased it. Paul Colby became owner in 1974. He purchased it about a decade after he began managing the club. Owner Paul Colby died in 2014. He had two partners in the club, Paul Rizzo and Ken Gorka. A tribute concert was held for Colby after his death.

According to Colby, James Taylor bombed when he played the club in 1969, and Neil Young also bombed at the club. In the mid 1970s, the club became known as the birthplace of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, which featured such names as Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Ronee Blakely, Mick Ronson, and many other guest stars.

The band Cross Country recorded a 1973 hit in the club.

The Bitter End was granted landmark status by the city of New York in 1992. Also in 1992, the venue's landlord tried to evict the bar, with the venue saved by benefit performances by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Kris Kristofferson, George Carlin and others.

Co-owner and booking agent Kenny Gorka died in 2015. Gorka was an original member of New Jersey band The Critters.

Lady Gaga performed at the bar in October 2016, after previously performing as an unsigned act at the bar before the release of her debut album.

Live albums recorded

Albums by Biff Rose (Half-live at the Bitter End), Peter, Paul and Mary, Randy Newman, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Burlap to Cashmere, The Isley Brothers and Tommy James & the Shondells, Lou Christie, The Chad Mitchell Trio among others, have been recorded live at the Bitter End. Bill Cosby's first album, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! was recorded there. New York based comedian Chris Rush had his second album, Beaming In, recorded there.

Comedians

These comedians appeared at The Bitter End early in their careers.

  • Albert Brooks
  • Bill Cosby
  • Billy Crystal
  • Cheech & Chong
  • Chris Rush
  • David Brenner
  • David Steinberg
  • Dick Cavett
  • Don Imus
  • Elayne Boosler
  • Flip Wilson
  • Freddie Prinze
  • George Carlin
  • Gilbert Gottfried
  • Greg Proops
  • Harry Anderson
  • Henny Youngman
  • Hugh Romney aka Wavy Gravy
  • Joan Rivers
  • Jon Stewart
  • Lenny Bruce
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Martin Mull
  • Mort Sahl
  • Pat Paulsen
  • Ray Romano
  • Richard Pryor
  • Rip Taylor
  • Robert Klein
  • Sandra Bernhard
  • Steve Landesberg
  • Steven Wright
  • Woody Allen
  • The Flying Karamazov Brothers

    Musicians



  • America
  • Andy Gibb
  • Ann Peebles
  • Arlo Guthrie
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Bette Midler
  • Bill Chinnock
  • Bill Haley
  • Bill Withers
  • Billy Joel
  • Billy Preston
  • Blues Project
  • Blues Traveler
  • Bo Diddley
  • Bob Carey
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bob Neuwirth
  • Brewer & Shipley
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • Bunky and Jake
  • Burlap to Cashmere
  • Carly Simon
  • Carole King
  • Chad Mitchell
  • Charles & Eddie
  • Chick Corea
  • Chuck Berry
  • Chuck Mangione
  • Country Joe McDonald
  • Curtis Mayfield
  • Curtis Stigers
  • Dan Avidan
  • David Bromberg
  • David Crosby
  • Dean Friedman
  • Dion
  • Disappear Fear
  • Don McLean
  • Donny Hathaway
  • Dory Previn
  • Doug Kershaw
  • Dr. John
  • Ed McCurdy
  • Eric Weissberg
  • Elliott Murphy
  • Etta James
  • Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention
  • Frankie Valli
  • Fred Neil
  • G. Love & Special Sauce
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • George Thorogood & the Destroyers
  • Gil Scott-Heron
  • Glen Burtnik
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Grayson Hugh
  • Gunhill Road
  • Hall & Oates
  • Harry Chapin
  • Helen Reddy
  • Hugh Masekela
  • Glen Hughes
  • Ian & Sylvia
  • Idina Menzel
  • Isabela Moner
  • Indigo Girls
  • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Jackson Browne
  • Jake Holmes
  • James Cotton
  • James Taylor
  • Janis Ian
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jon and the Jones
  • Jann Klose
  • Jean-Luc Ponty
  • Jeffrey Gaines
  • Jerry Jeff Walker
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Jim Croce
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jimmy James and the Blue Flames
  • Jimmy Webb
  • Joan Armatrading
  • Joan Baez
  • Joe Ely
  • Joe Walsh
  • John Denver
  • John Hartford
  • John Prine
  • John Sebastian
  • Johnny Nash
  • Joni Mitchell
  • José Feliciano
  • Josh White
  • Judy Collins
  • Kenny Rankin
  • Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
  • Kenny Vance and The Planotones
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Labelle
  • Lacy J. Dalton
  • Lady Gaga (as Stefani Germanotta Band, then on Dive Bar Tour)
  • Lana Del Rey (Performed as "Lizzy Grant")
  • Larry Coryell
  • Laura Nyro
  • Leo Kottke
  • Leon Bibb
  • Les Paul
  • LiLi Roquelin
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Lisa Kindred
  • Lisa Loeb
  • Little Feat
  • Livingston Taylor
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Los Lonely Boys
  • Lou Christie
  • Luke Sabis
  • Luther Allison
  • Maria Muldaur
  • Mark Duda
  • Mark Ronson
  • Marshall Brickman
  • Marshall Chapman
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Mary Wells
  • Maxene Andrews
  • Melanie
  • Melissa Manchester
  • Merry Clayton
  • Miles Davis
  • Mimi Fariña
  • Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels
  • Mongo Santamaria
  • Morgana King
  • Mose Allison
  • Neil Diamond
  • Neil Young
  • New York Rock & Roll Ensemble
  • Nil Lara
  • Nina Simone
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Norah Jones
  • Odetta
  • Oscar Brand
  • Otis Rush
  • Patti Rothberg
  • Patti Smith
  • Paul Siebel
  • Paul Williams
  • Peaches & Herb
  • Pete Seeger
  • Peter Stewart
  • Peter Allen
  • Peter Hammill
  • Peter, Paul and Mary
  • Phil Ochs
  • Phil Trainer a/k/a Phil Steele
  • Phoebe Snow
  • Ramblin' Jack Elliott
  • Randy Newman
  • Richard Barone
  • Richie Havens
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Robert Hunter
  • Rod McKuen
  • Ronee Blakely
  • Rorschach
  • Rusted Root
  • Ryan Cassata
  • Sam & Dave
  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Shawn Mullins
  • Skyhill
  • Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee
  • Spin Doctors
  • Stan Getz
  • Stéphane Grappelli
  • Stephen Bishop
  • Stereo Verde
  • Steve Forbert
  • Steve Goodman
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Stone Poneys
  • Suzanne Vega
  • Taj Mahal
  • Taylor Swift
  • The Big 3
  • The Box Tops
  • The Brandos
  • The Chambers Brothers
  • The Charlie Daniels Band
  • The Critters
  • The Everly Brothers
  • The Grateful Dead
  • The Happenings
  • The Isley Brothers
  • The Persuasions
  • The Searchers
  • The Serendipity Singers
  • The Shells
  • The Staple Singers
  • The Stone Poneys
  • The Tarriers
  • The Triplets
  • The Womenfolk
  • TEMPT
  • Tim Hardin
  • Tim Rose
  • Tom Paxton
  • Tom Rush
  • Tommy James & the Shondells
  • Tori Amos
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Van Morrison
  • Vanessa Carlton
  • Wendy Wall
  • Yvonne Elliman