Stanley Snadowsky, Nightclub Founder, Dies at 70

March 4, 2013 | Students

By PAUL VITELLO

March 3, 2013

 

Stanley Snadowsky, a founder of the Bottom Line, a landmark Greenwich Village nightclub that for 30 years presented artists like Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis and Billy Joel in a setting often described as one of New York City’s great living rooms, died on Monday in Las Vegas. He was 70.

 

The cause was complications of diabetes, his daughter Leslie said. He and his family moved to Las Vegas in 1992.

 

With a reputation for staging high-quality shows, Mr. Snadowsky, a lawyer, and his partner, Allan Pepper, had been booking performances at clubs in the city for a decade when they opened the 400-seat Bottom Line on Feb. 12, 1974.

 

The opening-night concert became legendary, drawing a star-studded audience that included Mick Jagger, Carly Simon and Stevie Wonder, who took to the stage for a jam session with the night’s featured headliner, the New Orleans R&B artist Dr. John.

 

The inauguration by pop music royalty set a tone that made the Bottom Line a favorite lookout post for music executives and a premier showcase for rising stars throughout the 1970s and ’80s. One was Mr. Springsteen.

 

Mr. Snadowsky often recalled an exuberant five-night engagement by Mr. Springsteen in August 1975, shortly before he made the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week. Before each performance was over, Mr. Snadowsky said, the energetic Mr. Springsteen had “climbed on every possible thing.”

 

Mr. Snadowsky and Mr. Pepper, who grew up together in Brooklyn and had been friends since third grade, had bandied about a number of names for the club, including Allan and Stanley’s Place, before settling on the Bottom Line, Mr. Pepper said in an interview on Friday.

 

It was a term they used every day in navigating a business through the uncertainties of the music world, negotiating contracts for every show (Mr. Snadowsky’s specialty), coping with the vagaries of stardom and mastering the shifting calculus of ticket sales and hamburger prices.

 

“The bottom line,” Mr. Pepper said, “is the one expression you hear in this business more than any other.”

 

They were forced to close in 2004 after reaching an impasse in negotiating a new lease with their landlord, New York University. Until then, a cavalcade of folk, jazz, rock and roll, and country performers had crossed the club’s stage, among them Dolly Parton, Tito Puente, Joan Baez, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Reed, Harry Chapin, the Roches, the Ramones, Prince, the Cars, the Police, Joan Armatrading, Janis Ian and Suzanne Vega.

 

Stanley Errol Snadowsky was born in Brooklyn on May 28, 1942, to Jacob and Florence Snadowsky. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Hunter College and Brooklyn Law School.

 

He was still in law school in 1965 when he and Mr. Pepper began promoting jazz concerts at clubs like the Village Gate, Gerde’s Folk City, Steve Paul’s the Scene and the Electric Circus. When they learned that a Dixieland jazz club called the Red Garter was about to close, they took over the space and renamed it the Bottom Line. (The room is now used as an N.Y.U. lecture hall.)

 

Besides his daughter Leslie, Mr. Snadowsky’s survivors include his wife, Michelle; another daughter, Daria; and a brother, Alvin.

 

After moving to Las Vegas, Mr. Snadowsky traveled often to New York for business. A master negotiator, he was invited in 1982 to address a workshop at New York Law School for students interested in the music business. The advice he gave them amounted to a prescription for life:

 

“If you get nothing else out of this,” he said, “just remember one thing: There is nothing ‘standard.’ Everything is negotiable. If they tell you it’s not, go find somebody else.”

 

Originally published by The New York Times