[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 ...
View this post on Instagram
THE BEGINNING OF A PERFECTLY GORGEOUS NIGHT ! WHEN THE DOOR OPENED AND IGGY AND DEBBIE CAME IN ... TO A ROOM FULL OF LOVE & SHARED THIER LOVE WITH EACH OTHER & ALL OF US !!! .. OF COURSE CHRIS & NINA WERE THERE TOO !!! THE 7th PHOTO SHOWS YOU HOW TRULY HAPPY I AM !!! ... FEEL THE LOVE !!! TOMORROW’S POST IS GONNA BE PHOTO’S OF THE GUEST’S (Well Some Of Them) I CALL “AND THEN THE SAINT’S CAME MARCHING IN” !!! #FootprintsInFebruary #Begins #HistoryInTheMaking #IggyPop #DebbieHarry #ChrisStein #Nina !!! ... YES ! “WE ALL HAD A REAL COOL TIME” ... #IxNeedxMore #WeLiveRockNRoll ALL 7 PHOTO’S BY: CARL TIMPONE/BFA #thankyoucarl
Previously on EV Grieve:
Jimmy Webb will make dreams come true with new rock 'n' roll boutique I Need More