|Address||15 West 4th Street|
Manhattan, New York City
|Opened||February 12, 1974|
The Bottom Line was a music venue at 15 West 4th Street between Mercer Street and Greene Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. During the 1970s and 1980s the club was a major space for small-scale popular music performances. It opened on Feb 11, 1974.
For three decades the two club owners, Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky, presented major musical acts and premiered new talent. Bruce Springsteen played showcase gigs at the club and Lou Reed recorded the album Live: Take No Prisoners there. Harry Chapin held his 2000th concert at the Bottom Line in January 1981.
The Bottom Line hosted an extremely wide variety of music and musicians. Among the thousands who performed on its stage were Eric Clapton, Carl Perkins, Linda Ronstadt, The Police, Adrian Belew, Prince, Pat Benatar, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Van Morrison, Laura Nyro, The Stone Poneys, Rory Gallagher, Chuck Mangione, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Barry Manilow, Dire Straits, Grayson Hugh, Dolly Parton, George Jones, The Pointer Sisters, Ravi Shankar, Ramones, The Brecker Brothers, Gato Barbieri, Bryan Ferry, and Miles Davis.
The live parts of Derek and Clive (Live), a spoken word and music comedy album recorded by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in late 1973 under their guises of Derek and Clive were recorded at The Bottom Line.
The Bottom Line seated 400 people and had a no smoking policy, long before that restriction became New York City law.
In later years the club hosted In Their Own Words: A Bunch Of Songwriters Sittin' Around Singing, a series of performances with commentary organized and initially hosted by radio personality Vin Scelsa. Another staple was the annual Downtown Messiah, a reworking of Handel directed by Richard Barone. At Christmastime, musicians like Vernon Reid and David Johansen made The Messiah their own. The venue also held annual New Year's Eve shows by The Turtles (often performing as Flo & Eddie). Another recurring event was The Beat Goes On, a show in which performers covered pop songs around a theme, such as Christmas songs, or songs from a given time period. That show presented performers including Fountains of Wayne, Richard Lloyd and Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell. The Bottom Line was also the site, in April 1995, of four concerts by Joan Baez in which she collaborated with a number of female performers, including Dar Williams, Janis Ian, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Indigo Girls and Mary Black, the results of which were recorded and released as the album Ring Them Bells.
The Bottom Line's cachet faded with time, and by 2003 the club owed $190,000 in back rent, plus several hundred thousand dollars in other expenses, and was no longer bringing in large crowds. Its landlord, New York University (NYU), increased the rent to market level, which was beyond the club's ability to pay, and threatened eviction. Fans started a petition on a "Save the Bottom" website in support of the club.Bruce Springsteen offered to pay the club's back rent if NYU and the owners could settle on a lease. Sirius Satellite Radio offered the same, but rather than risk a takeover, Pepper and Snadowsky closed the club before they could be kicked out. The last Bottom Line show was on January 22, 2004, just shy of the club's 30th anniversary. The building now houses NYU classrooms.
Pepper and Snadowsky attempted to find another venue to carry the Bottom Line name. The club's website still provides the club's official history. From 2005 through 2011, the site was updated annually on February 12 (anniversary of the club's opening), with a letter detailing their current progress. In February 2007 they announced plans to release a box set of archival recordings on Koch Records. In 2011 they announced the box set was in "limbo" pending settling of performance rights issues, and the search was continuing for a new location. Snadowsky died in February 2013 from complications of diabetes. The site was not updated in February 2014.
Pepper holds recordings of more than 1,000 shows and is releasing some of them in the Bottom Line Archive Series of his own Bottom Line Record Company. In March 2015, Pepper released: Kenny Rankin Plays The Beatles & More (1990); The Brecker Brothers (1976); and Willie Nile (1980 & 2000). In June 2015, The Bottom Line Archive released four more titles: Harry Chapin (1981), Janis Ian (1980) plus reissues of In Their Own Words, Vols. 1 & 2 (1990-93) with Ric Ocasek, Joey Ramone, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, John Cale, Patty Smyth, and David Johansen.