Tuesday, April 14, 2020

RIP Jimmy Webb

[Photo for EVG by Walter Wlodarczyk]

Word is circulating that Jimmy Webb, a familiar figure in the East Village during his long tenure as the manager and buyer at Trash & Vaudeville, has died of cancer. He was in his early 60s, friends say. (An official statement about his death has not yet been issued.)

Webb, once referred to as "punk rock's unofficial shopkeeper," counted everyone from Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry to Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses as friends. Most recently, he owned and operated the rock 'n' roll boutique I Need More on Orchard Street.

Here's more on Webb's past via a New York Times feature from 2013:

“I’m from a hillbilly town upstate where they hunt deer,” he said. “We walked to the creek with Boone’s Farm a friend’s older sister bought us and listened to ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ on a transistor radio.”

Lou Reed’s 1972 ode to hustlers, transsexuals and transsexual hustlers would alter Mr. Webb’s life. “A friend asked, ‘Do you know what it means?’ ” he recalled. “I did without knowing it. I knew I was a boy that had to leave to go somewhere.”

At 16, he ran away to New York with a pillowcase full of clothes. It was 1975. “Coming into Trash and Vaudeville my first time, I knew I’d found a home and I wasn’t crazy,” he said.

At first, Mr. Webb worked as a bar-back in a gay establishment on the Upper West Side at the height of the neighborhood’s Needle Park infamy, attended hair school (he flunked grandiosely) and was a regular at CBGB. He fell into heroin addiction for 20 years and lived in Tompkins Square Park, eventually returning upstate.

“It got worse before it got better,” he said. “They thought I was going to die. After rebuilding my body and spirit, I wanted to go back to the city I loved.”

He started working at his dream destination, Trash & Vaudeville, in 1999, and remained there until the shop relocated from St. Mark's Place to Seventh Street in 2016.

[Photo from 2013 by James Maher]

There are many tributes to Webb on Instagram. A sampling:

Webb eventually opened I Need More in October 2017.

In an interview with EVG prior to the launch, he talked about why he decided to open his shop on the Lower East Side.

I didn’t pick the Lower East Side, or any special place for I Need More. I was very open to where the rock 'n' roll angels were leading me when I finally decided to open a store ... Loving all of New York City I was very open to anywhere in Manhattan. My heart and spirit is in ALL of New York City.

Of course the Lower East Side is a HUGE part of my life since I ran away and arrived in the city in 1975. So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when that second batch of angels ended up leading me right to 75 Orchard Street — 75A in fact! How cool is that? I take that leap of faith and run away to New York City in 1975 as a 16-year-old boy. Decades later another leap of faith leaving everything I know and ending up at 75A Orchard Street.

In late February, the shop hosted a “Footprints in February” celebration, in which Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop put their handprints, footprints and autographs in concrete on the floor of I Need More.

His exuberant, all-cap writing style on Instagram posts captured his love of rock 'n' roll and the people who are part of it ...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Jimmy Webb will make dreams come true with new rock 'n' roll boutique I Need More


Anonymous said...

such a sweet guy and a legend. RIP

Anonymous said...

The patron saint of New York City rock n roll will continue to watch over us, make sure you don't let him down

Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky said...

A beautiful tribute to a beautiful NYC institution. Invictus, Jimmy!

Anonymous said...

Oh fuck. The hits keep coming. He was a gem of a man. Please universe. No more deaths. RIP, Jimmy.

Shawn said...

I found out in such a subtle way, not the usual "Saw it in EV Grieve" way. Gosh, this guy was as much a "part" of this neighborhood as Ray, or Mosaic Man. A true legend.

elyse said...

I am so sad. He is and will aways be a PUNK GOD. Love you, Jimmy.

Laura Goggin said...


Several years ago, I was feeling glum about having to walk around in an eye patch after surgery. I went to Trash & Vaudeville and Jimmy picked out a dress to go with the eye patch and made me feel like a total rock star. We had an awesome afternoon parading around the shop.

The city has lost a real star. RIP.

Anonymous said...

what a beauty, inside and out. so gratifying and unsurprising to see how loved he was by so many! RIP, hope the pants in heaven are tight as f**k!

Anonymous said...

RIP in Rock and Roll Heaven dear Jimmy

Anonymous said...

what a gentleman he always was

Anonymous said...

Was he Beavis or Butthead from the punk world...
Just kidding Jimmy! RIP my friend.
we luv ya brother!

Mariann Marlowe said...

Always respected me and my background.
He always said to me
You can’t erase history.
Acknowledging that my shop was the first punk rock shop in NYC
Opened in 73.
I will miss him desperately. We were working on designs together,I was so very excited about our collaboration.
RIP my dear friend for over 30 years.

XTC said...

Jimmy was a lovely guy, but personally I was never into dressing punk. Back in the day there was no punk look. Everybody did their own thing. That was Punk. Punk as a fashion statement is the anthesis of what punk was supposed to be. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer because I have great respect for anyone who is an outsider so instead of saying RIP ("The microwave dinner of posthumous honors" - Lou Reed) I think the words of Ian Hunter are most fitting-

Rock and roll is a loser's game, it mesmerizes and I can't explain/ The reasons for the sights and the sounds/ Behind these shades the visions fade, as I learn a thing or two/ But if I had my time again you all know just what I'd do.

So rock n' roll's a loser's game, it mesmerizes and I can't explain/The reasons for the sights and for the sounds/The greasepaint still sticks to my face, so what the hell I can't erase/The rock n' roll feeling from my mind

From my mind
From my mind
From my mind..............

Anonymous said...

Tears of a clown, will fall down.
Jimmy is not Timmy, but Jimmy.
Blessed is the soul, amen.

T.Cammer said...

Oh, man. This hits home. Jimmy was a fantastic human with a big, wild heart and so full of love. Thank you for everything, Jimmy. I'm going to miss you terribly.