Friday, September 9, 2011

Academy Of Music (Palladium), 126 E. 14th Street, New York, NY

Capacity 3387[31]
The original Academy stood across the street at the northeast corner of 14th and Irving Place, and was "the city's first successful opera house," according to Terry Miller's Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way (New York: Crown, 1990).[1]
Academy Of Music, New York, NY 1854-1909, (Chapters of Opera, Henry Edward Krehbiel)

Designed by architect Alexander Saeltzer and built in 1854, it hosted the American premieres of Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Die Walkure, and Carmen, and such major social events as an 1860 ball in honor of the Prince of Wales. The Academy also has a roundabout connection to the birth of American musical theater.
The Light Guard Ball, September 28, 1860, Academy of Music, New York
The theatre had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 44 feet wide X 40 feet high, and the stage was 66 feet deep.[4]
In May of 1866, a fire at the theater left a French ballet troupe stranded without a place to perform. The company, its scenery, and its elaborate stage effects were hastily added to a production of The Black Crook at Niblo's Garden; the resulting bizarre combination of Faustian drama and tutu-and-tights dance routines became a major hit and is widely considered to be the first full-fledged Broadway musical.
The Academy was rebuilt after the fire, but it didn't last much longer as an opera house.
Academy Of Music, New York, NY 1870

Academy Of Music, New York, NY 1871
In the Whartonesque high society of the times, one was looked down upon if one did not have a box at the opera--and to the frustration of newer Gilded Age millionaires, Old New York's most aristocratic families had long kept a tight hold on the Academy's eighteen boxes.

In protest, the nouveaux riches decided to build their own palace of prestige further uptown--the original Metropolitan Opera House at 1423 Broadway near 39th Street, opened in 1883. This new house not only had ample boxes, it also had its own resident company and musical director--aspects which the Academy had always lacked. Old money was forced to admit defeat, and soon defected to the boxes at the Metropolitan. The Academy presented its last opera in 1885, and thereafter offered the public a mixture of theater, vaudeville, and later, films.[3]
Sammy Cahn was inspired to take up songwriting after witnessing a vaudeville show there.
Movies were shown at the Academy of Music as early as 1897, when films of recent boxing matches were projected via the Veriscope system, according to Terry Ramsaye’s “A Million and One Nights,” an industry history published in 1926, the same year that the AOM was demolished. Recalling its original dedication to classical music and drama, Ramsaye wrote that “For many years, the Academy of Music has been a motion picture theatre, a sort of withered crone, flamboyant with garish electric garlands in the tragic gaiety of a desperate old age. The queen, deposed, is a rag picker now.”[6]
The Academy of Music closed forever with a gala “farewell” performance on May 17th, 1926, by which time its new namesake was nearing completion.[5]

Across 14th Street from the site of the opera house, the south side of East 14t Street, a movie theatre opened in 1927 which took the name the Academy of Music.[17]

It was built as a 3,000-seat deluxe movie palace by movie mogul William Fox, and was designed by Thomas W. Lamb. While the second Academy of Music was obviously named after its predecessor, music was not its original raison d'etre. It was never intended as a concert hall, and first opened in 1926 as a deluxe "presentation" house with a feature movie and vaudeville.
It was advertised in The New York Times on October 21, 1926, with "Marriage License" on screen and a stage show featuring Leo Carrillo, Nonette, Art Landry & His Band, and the 60-piece Academy Symphony Orchestra. This could have been the premiere presentation. Some of the furnishings were purchased by Mrs. William Fox during her frequent shopping tours of Europe. Fox had been shut out of building in the Broadway-Times Square area, so he hoped that crowds would flock to 14th Street to attend this beautifully appointed theatre, but that didn't happen. With the onset of the Depression, Fox lost his entire theatre empire, including the Academy of Music. In the bankruptcy proceedings that followed, the Academy became part of the Skouras circuit, which operated it for the rest of its four decades as a movie theatre. Skouras was notorious for its housekeeping, and the Academy became increasingly shabby and uncomfortable with the passing of time.
Interestingly, simultaneously with the Academy of Music, Fox and Lamb built a slightly smaller version in Brooklyn on Bedford Avenue near Eastern Parkway[3]
For a few years, operas were staged at both The Academy of Music and The Met. In the end; the Met won out.
I notice in this photo that Grace Hoffman is headlining.
Goldie Hoffman, photo courtesy of Marcelo Galvao
She was American mezzo-soprano, Grace (actually, Goldie) Hoffman [Hoffmann], was educated at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Then she studied voice with Schorr in New York and Basiola in Milan.
In March 1958 she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde. She made many appearances at La Scala in Milan, Covent Garden in London, Bayreuth, and the Vienna State Opera. She passed away in 2008.

The Union Square area (which had been the home for opera and theatre for more than a decade) passed into oblivion. Almost all legit theatre productions were performed mid town (the forty-second street region) by the turn of the last century.
The place was also used for the occasional boxing match.

It served as a venue for rock concerts in the 1970's.

The Academy's first big rock & roll event appears to have been an Alan Freed show over the Christmas holiday in 1955, featuring the Cadillacs, LaVern Baker, the Valentines, the Heartbeats, the Wrens, the 3 Chuckles, the Bonnie Sisters, and the Count Basie Orchestra.
In the early 60s it was still a great double-feature movie-house but for one night they had The Dave Clark 5 with The Kinks opening!
In December, 1961, the radio DJ known as "Murray the K" hosted a "Holiday Stage Spectacular" here that ran for eleven days, with shifting headliners.[18]

Johnny Mathis topped the bill on December 22-23, followed by Bobby Vee from December 24-29, and by Dion from December 30 through January 1. Performing throughout the engagement were Joey Dee & The Starliters, U.S. Bonds, Bobby Lewis, Timi Yuro, the Isley Brothers, Jan & Dean, and others.[18]

The Rolling Stones played the hall on October 24, 1964, and May 1 and November 6, 1965. Tom Wolfe describes the scene at the '64 show to super-fab effect in his essay about Baby Jane Holzer, "The Girl of the Year" [available in The Purple Decades (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1982) or The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (New York: Bantam, 1999 reprint)].

"It was also famous for having one of New Yorks most famous Billiard Palors on its first floor called O'briens. It had tables running for a whole block and every great pool hustler cut his teeth there including Minnesota Fats." [37]

Until the late 1970's there was still a (barely discernable) large size painting of a ticket that advertised "two features, cartoon and newsreel" for 5 cents.[18]

With the demise of the legendary Fillmore East in 1971, the Academy of Music found new life as the premier mid-range venue for rock and roll music. During the 1970's it was far removed from the center of the Manhattan movie district, and had an amazing dual life - - - concert hall by night, and home to cheesy kung-fu movies by day. Three or four evenings a week, the cream of 1970's rock bands came through, three bands a night, shows at 8 & 11:30 PM.[18]

In Sept of 1971 Howard Stein booked a deal with United Artists for the unlimited use of the Academy and when Howard did not have a live show UA ran movies.

Lou Reed's "Rock n Roll Animal"/"Live" was recorded at the Academy of Music in 1973 or 1974. One of the great live records.

By the late 1970's it had become a full-time concert venue, eventually re-christened "The Palladium."
It was re-christened the Palladium in 1976 with a concert by The Band, who were on their last tour and just weeks away from their farewell "Last Waltz" concert in San Francisco. When it did reopen prior to the concert by The Band the mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ was sold and removed. Pipes and all. Piece by piece.
The Palladium was a major venue in New York for rock bands who wanted an audience larger than a club but not quite arena size, like Madison Square Garden. Many bands performed at the Palladium as part the middle of large arena and stadium tours, due to the prestige of the club and the more intimate audience size. The club featured a highly regarded sound system that was designed and installed by Richard Long of Richard Long & Associates,(RLA).

Thousands of bands played shows at the Palladium. This was a great, huge theater, with a crystal chandelier the size of a Volkswagon hanging from the ceiling, that shook so much we thought it would come crashing down.

In May 1985 the interior was remodeled to become a multi-story disco club of the same name by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, after they were forced to sell Studio 54. It was designed by Arata Isozaki.[17]
Opening night was 5/14/85. The orchestra seats were stripped out and the floor leveled for dancing. (Jahn Bonfiglio, William Gabel)

They hired Danceteria DJ Richard Sweret who saw the possibility of a much larger audience for a downtown ‘new wave’, Euro and house music oriented club.
After the conversion from a venue to a club, the main dance floor of the Palladium was a huge space which used to hold the theater and seating.
One interesting feature of the club was the large banks of TV monitors in grid formations that were used to display music videos. Each monitor could operate separately, or one large picture could be shown across the grid.
The entire club was big, and held different areas, the equivalent of three or four clubs. Besides the pounding main dance floor area there was a multicolored basement, and the famous upstairs "VIP room," The Michael Todd Room. Murals were created for this space by the well known New York artists of the 1980s Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf.

The demolition of the Palladium was first announced in December, 1996. It took months due to the massiveness of the building.
Like the old Loews Commodore (later known as the Fillmore East) on 2nd Avenue and East 6th, this building was razed to make way for the expansion of a local university. (Ed Solero)
As with the NYC landmark Luchow's restaurant (right next door,) New York University swallowed up the property, as they have so often, and demolished all of the buildings in 1997. The NYU dormitory that replaced the theatre is called Palladium. (Jahn Bonfiglio and William Gabel)

"Ron Poole was the manager there until Delsner left... the last show was Zebra. My father stayed on for a bit when Robell and Scrager (sp?) took over but he could not take it anymore. The chandelier that was there was dropped to the ground and destroyed. I still have a few pieces of the crystals. My father used to take me all the way to the top where the circle was around the chandelier... there was this narrow, spiral staircase that seemed to go up forever... it was freakin' dangerous, a few of the steps were actually missing. When you got up there you could look down over the whole orchestra, it was an awesome view. THE HUGE chandelier that was rebuild that hung from the center ceiling was taken down and who knows where that is if it is still around. It cost $50k to restore.
Elton John played there and one of the things he asked for was to have the chandelier working. They had to lower it with extra lines to make sure that the cable it was held up with did not snap. On a few occasions I had to climb the ladder on the back wall stage right side to get up to the fly level. Man that was a scary feeling knowing there was nothing between you and the ground.
I miss that place and can not believe what it became after Ron Delsner left it, and that it was just demolished like it never existed. On the 3rd floor behind the concession stands there was a HUGE storage room that no one used. We used to talk about turning it into a large loft type apartment. Back there were tons of old papers and artifacts. I have some stuff from that back room, but I am sure they demo'd all of the stuff that was in there along with the building. I can not even imagine the history that was in that area that I never saw and no one will ever see now."[7]

The theater was bought and demolished by New York University, and replaced by the present Palladium Residence Hall, which opened in 2001. (White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot. AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.) New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8129-3107-6.)
Then and now

Jerry performed here on
1/21/72 Early and late shows Howard Wales (Academy of Music)
Mahavishnu Orchestra also performed. Jim Carroll may have opened.
"That evening we played to a sold-out house at the Academy of Music and received and enthusiastic response, complete with encore. Our approach to playing music was not unlike the "Dead's: except the musicianship was perhaps more technically advanced. For me, a standout memory of that night was the presence of a truly famous rock star in the audience, George Harrison joined us backstage. Previously unbeknownst to me, he and Garcia were pals. When the Kaiser offered him a "toke," he accepted, but insisted on being discreet; so Howard, Jerry, George and I huddled together in a broom closed to get high. Although I had never been a huge Beatle fan, I must admit that it was a special and certainly unique experience to spend time, trade stories, and share some a closet...with a former member of the most famous band in history. In a recent phone conversation, Howard and I talked about that night, and our mutual regret that our two famous companions in that little event are no longer among the living. It makes one realize just how fragile we human beings are. Back then, however, when we were only in our mid-to-late twenties, we all felt invincible. While on cannot truly get to know another person over a single "joint," I remember George Harrison as a very pleasant, soft spoken man, with a very keen sense of humor. He certainly did not come off as being egotistical, and he was without a doubt more amazed by his super stardom than impressed by it. We talked mostly about the music sense in general. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer and died at the age of fifty-eight in November 2001."[25]

3/21/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Jerry plays the guitar Alligator, (just a Harley Davidson sticker, no Alligator sticker), a 1957 Fender Stratocaster with a pre-'57 button string tree (with an added "clip" mod and a brass nut).[15][35]
First performance of Looks Like Rain.[33]

"Sitting hunched over on an empty speaker case the Academy crew sweated to comply to the strenuous demands of the Dead crew seeking perfection, Jerry garcia pulled on an only-the-tops-special, relaxing before the serious stuff started the first night.
"It's really far out, just too fuckin' neat, man," he said with that same huge grin. "I mean, we've only just started getting' into what we can do. There's no limit…and we're all feline' good."[21]

3/22/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Promoter Howard Stein Presents.
"At one point the power went out in the middle of a song----I don't remember which one, but I do recall Jerry playin' pedal steel on Brokedown Palace."[9]

"The sound went out in the middle of LOSER, they finally fixed it and they started back up right in the middle of the song where they left off."[10]

3/23/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Promoter Howard Stein Presents.
Jerry plays the guitar Alligator before the Alligator sticker.

3/25/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Bo Diddley opened and was backed by the Grateful Dead.[30]
Hell's Angels Benefit
Promoter Hell's Angels Presents.
Bo Diddley sits in for the first set.
Jerry plays pedal steel on Looks Like Rain and the guitar Alligator.
Donna Godchaux's first official appearance as a member.[33]

"I recall the show was announced as 'Hell's Angels Benefit with Jerry Garcia and Friends' with no mention of the Dead or Diddley."[11]

"The curtain went up and Bo Diddley was on first backed up by the Dead."[12]

"I remember this show extremely well, and yep, it was a Hells Angels Benefit. A close friend in the music business got me 6 tickets for 1st Row Dead Center. March 20th, just five days earlier was my 18th birthday, and this was his birthday gift to me. Jerry on pedal steel during Looks Like Rain was beautiful. During "Brown Eyed Woman" I was dancing and smiling ear to ear, being only a few feet from Jerry. He looked at me dancing, right in my eyes, smiled back with a huge grin, and went off on break. Was one of those very special moments in my 24 years of seeing the Dead."[13]
"It was really Pigpen's night- the bikers loved him and he tore the place down. The balcony was shaking like it would collapse."[14]

3/26/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Hell's Angels Benefit

"Let's get it on for the Hell's Angels of the USA!", yelled Bob Weir into the mike, and while some more impressionable brothers almost swooned away from sheer excitement, the band launched into their first number,-"How Sweet It Is to be loved by you. WATCH OUT FOR THE FUNNY-LOOKING JUG, they had told me by way of warning, but the intrepid drugger in me took over, and in the twinkle of an eye, while the Dead launched into their best-ever "Dark Star" (this being Tuesday night, the last show), a jabbering circle of groupies, writers, chemists, and Angels dissolved into misty day glo abstracts to the festive tinkle of discarded nitrous oxide cylinders plinking onto the floorboards like so many spent shell cases."[21]

3/27/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)
Jerry plays a pedal steel guitar on Looks Like Rain.[29]

3/28/72 Grateful Dead (Academy of Music)[8]
Jerry plays a pedal steel guitar on Looks Like Rain.[29]

4/29/77 Grateful Dead
Jerry plays the Travis Bean 500 #12 guitar.[23]
"…the ripple effect I'd always admired in Garcia's plying wa achieved, at least this time, by an improvisational elementary device: He was running triplets up and down the scale, four at a time, so that when he merely held a single note for two beats the contrast was arresting almost by definition. Soon I also noticed, however, that into all this repetition he was sneaking a few very attractive melodies. Then, for the final rave up, he suddenly attacked the guitar with a blues-ish (almost Jamesian) slash that made all that rippling melody seem a diversion in subliminal retrospect. We'd been set up, and we loved it."[22]

4/30/77 Grateful Dead
Jerry plays the Travis Bean 500 #12 guitar.[23]

Grateful Dead
Jerry plays the Travis Bean 500 #12 guitar.[23]
First performance of Sunrise, inspired by the untimely death of road manager Rex Jackson.[34]

5/3/77 Grateful Dead
Jerry plays the Travis Bean 500 #12 guitar.[23]

5/4/77 Grateful Dead
Jerry plays the Travis Bean 500 #12 guitar.[23]

11/27/77 early and late shows Jerry Garcia Band (The Palladium)
Promoter Ron Delsner and Mateus.
Jerry plays the guitar Wolf.[32]
Maria Muldaur on tour with backup vocals.
The late show did not sell out.
Attendance for both shows combined was 6000.[26]
Cancellation of opening act Pierce Arrow forced the show to be 65 minutes late. There was an innocuous mimed magician who performed for five minutes about midway through the delay, but this hardly amounted to an opener.[20]
There were no intermissions.[27]

2/11/81 Jerry Garcia Band (The Palladium)
Jerry plays the guitar Tiger.[28]
"Lot of (Hells)Angels at this show and they had lined up their bikes out front and nobody wanted to knock one over so it took a while to get out of the Palladium."[36]

11/10/81 early and late shows Jerry Garcia Band (The Palladium)
Peter Rowan opened.

6/25/82 John Kahn (acoustic) (The Palladium)
Friends of Erik Benefit (Sandy Alexander's son)
Benefit for Sandy Alexander's nine year old son Erik, who survived a nine story fall and emerged from a 20 day coma.
The ticket reads Garcia and Friends.
Rogue, Bo Diddley, Ronnie Spector, Robert Gordon and Moonbeam also performed.
Show started at midnight.

"I was at the Sandy Alexander benefit at the Palladium 1982 and there was a Hells Angel and his woman screwing in their seats (her seated on his "lap") literally oblivious and not caring to anyone who was right around them. Just another day out in public you know."(19)

Academy Of Music/Palladium, New York, NY
1.)^Miller, Terry, Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way (New York: Crown, 1990).
2.)^White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot. AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.) New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000.
3.)^Harris, William G., comments,
4.)^Salters, Ron, 2007-10-29,
5.)^Harris, Warren G., 2007-10-29,
6.)^Harris, Warren G., 2007-11-02,
7.)^Gypsy, Noel
9.)^da roach, comments, 2009-02-21,
10.)^BILLYPRIMO, comments, 2010-10-27,
11.)^sixstringsmoreorlesh, comments, 2007-07-11,
12.)^skatemaniac, 2007-07-20,
13.)^Easywind54, comments, 2008-02-26,
14.)^rocknreel, comments, 2011-01-25,
15.)^Wright, Tom, 2013-12-27, email to author.
17.)^Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press.
18.)^Bonfiglio, Jahn and Gabel, William,
19.)^Wise, Jim, comments, 2014-02-14, Garcia Folder,
20.)^Kirb, Concert Reviews, 1977-11-30, Variety, pg. 58.
21.)^Carr, Patrick, “One Full Week Running With: Grateful Dead,”
Grapevine (Toronto) no. 14, May 17, 1972, p. 15.
22.)^Christgau, Robert, Dropping In On The Grateful Dead, 1977-05-09, Village Voice, pg. 55.
23.)^Wright, Tom, Garcia musical instrument historian, 2014-03-21, email to author.
24.)^Forshay, Chris, Jerry Garcia Band, Relix, 1984.
25.)^Vincent, James and Robert J. Macoy,  Space Traveler: A Musician's Odyssey, pg. 63, Joseph jupille Archives.
26.)^Auditoriums (Under 6,000), Billboard, 1977-12-10, Joseph Jupille Archives.
27.)^Kirby, Fred, Concert Reviews, Variety, 1977-11-30, pg. 58, Joseph Jupille Archives.
28.)^Minkin, Robert, photographer, 1981-02-11.
29.)^Getz, Michael M. and Dwork, John R., The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, pg. 367.
30.)^Arnold, Corry, The Golden Road, 1986-summer, pg. 32.
31.)^Jerry garcia band Fall 1977 Tour, Joseph Jupille Archives.
32.)^Minkin, Robert, photographer, 1977-11-27.
33.)^Jackson, Blair; McNally, Dennis; Peters, Stephen; Wills, Chuck, Grateful Dead - The Illustrated Trip, pg. 142.
34.)^Jackson, Blair; McNally, Dennis; Peters, Stephen; Wills, Chuck, Grateful Dead - The Illustrated Trip, pg. 206.
35.)^Rubin, Rosina, photography, Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed November 13, 2014,
36.)^hockeygame3, comments, 2015-02-12,  2/11/81---JGB,
37.)^37.)^Bruce G., former GM of The Underground on Union Square, SF.


  1. Are you Harry who e-mailed me not too long ago? You lifted a few sentences directly from a blog post I wrote about this place a few years ago. I don't mind, it's not like I'm some great original thinker or anything...but the least you could do is put a link to where you found my ramblings.

  2. Signed D.C., Very sorry about that, I've added your link.

  3. A kind and generous system of attribution makes everything work better. Paraphrase as much as possible, with precise links to original sources. Where quoting, be selective and make sure stuff is in quotes, again, with direct attribution to the source. I hate to be school-marmish about this stuff, but folks neeed attribution and the verifiability of facts and claims improves with the precision of attribution.

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  5. I saw The Grateful Dead's 7 day week run of shows in March of 1972 at the Academy of Music. One word, Legendary.

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  9. I saw the Rolling Stones here back in 64 or 65. AFter the concert they were giving out
    promo copies of the single "Satisfaction" on the London Label (except it was orange, not blue) for free. A great show. I now have tickets for the June 2019 concert with my grandkids!