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Jerry Brandt, Whose Music Clubs Captured a Moment, Dies at 82

Jerry Brandt, Whose Music Clubs Captured a Moment, Dies at 82
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Jerry Brandt, Whose Music Clubs Captured a Moment, Dies at 82

Jerry Brandt, Whose Music Golf equipment Captured a Second, Dies at 82

Jerry Brandt, a promoter and entrepreneur who owned two nightclubs, the Electrical Circus and the Ritz, that had been attention-getting components of New York’s music scene of their day, died on Jan. 16 in Miami Seashore. He was 82.

His household stated in an announcement that the trigger was Covid-19.

Mr. Brandt made a profession of making an attempt to catch no matter wave was cresting on the pop-culture scene. With the Electrical Circus, which he opened in 1967 on St. Marks Place within the East Village, it was psychedelia. With the Ritz, opened in 1980 just a few blocks away, it was the exploding music scene of the MTV decade, with the exhibits he staged there — Parliament-Funkadelic, U2, Tina Turner, Ozzy Osbourne, Frank Zappa and numerous others — reflecting the exploratory power of the time.

Not all his large bets paid off. Maybe his best-known debacle was Jobriath, a homosexual performer whom Mr. Brandt backed with a lavish promotional marketing campaign in 1973 and ’74, hoping to create an American model of David Bowie’s androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona. The concertgoing and record-buying public soundly rejected the try and manufacture a star, and Jobriath, whose actual title was Bruce Campbell, pale rapidly.

However Mr. Brandt’s successes, particularly with the Ritz, caught their cultural second and propelled it ahead. On the Ritz, he not solely booked an expansive vary of bands; he additionally introduced new applied sciences into the combination.

“The Ritz opened Could 14, 1980, with a video display screen the dimensions of the proscenium arch it hung from,” the WFUV disc jockey Delphine Blue, who was a Ritz D.J. for 5 years, stated by e mail. “On it had been projected cartoons, film bits, psychedelic montages, whereas the D.J.s performed data and jockeyed backwards and forwards with the V.J., who performed music movies. This was over a 12 months earlier than the debut of MTV in August of 1981.”

There was, she stated, a rope dancer who was lowered from the ceiling. There was a cameraman lugging an enormous video digital camera across the dance ground, capturing the dancers and projecting the pictures on the massive display screen. The membership was usually packed and the chaos barely managed. Typically it was not managed in any respect.

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“A full home on the Ritz started throwing bottles on the membership’s video display screen two weeks in the past when the British band Public Picture Ltd. carried out behind the display screen, refused to return out from behind it and taunted the viewers,” Gadget Clock reported within the spring of 1981. “A number of followers then stormed the stage, ripping down the display screen and destroying gear. There was a second of near-panic on the crowded dance ground, although apparently nobody was harm.”

Mr. Brandt was the middle of all of it.

“Jerry,” Ms. Blue stated merely, “was the P.T. Barnum of nightclubs.”

Jerome Jack Mair was born on Jan. 29, 1938, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to Jack and Anna (Cohen) Mair. His father, Mr. Brandt wrote in his memoir, “It’s a Brief Stroll From Brooklyn, if You Run” (2014), left when he was 5. When his mom subsequently married Harold Brandt, Jerry took his stepfather’s title.

After graduating from Lafayette Excessive College in Brooklyn, he served within the Military from 1956 to 1958. Again in New York, he finally bought a job as a waiter on the City Hill, a Brooklyn membership that featured high Black performers like Sam Cooke and Dinah Washington.

“It was a dream come true,” he wrote in his memoir. “I may see nice performers and make cash on the identical time. It made me notice that I wished to be within the music enterprise.”

In 1961 he went to work within the mailroom at William Morris, the expertise company. He didn’t initially impress his bosses, particularly when he was assigned to behave as a courier and ship an vital contract to a Fifth Avenue workplace.

“As an alternative I went to Central Park, smoked a joint and was two hours late,” he wrote.

He was fired, however after a yearlong stint with one other company, Common Artists Company, he was again at William Morris, this time as a expertise agent. He represented the Rolling Stones after they made their first excursions of the US within the mid-Nineteen Sixties.

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Mr. Brandt opened the Electrical Circus on June 27, 1967. It was a riot of music and psychedelic lights, and inside just a few months he had additionally opened a boutique on the second ground the place clients may purchase stick-on magnificence spots or jumpsuits made from strips of coloured crepe paper. The Instances described the opening of the boutique this manner:

“Her arms strapped to a excessive wire, a mannequin in a purple and silver polka dot jumpsuit sailed by means of the air within the Electrical Circus discothèque Monday night time and landed within the arms of a person dressed as a gorilla. Then, because the partitions crawled with protoplasmic blobs of coloured mild throbbing with the beat, the mannequin and the gorilla started to frug.”

The leisure choices on the membership ranged far and large. The Velvet Underground, managed by Andy Warhol, was an everyday attraction. The Grateful Lifeless, nonetheless an up-and-coming band on the time, performed there in Could 1968. Just a few weeks later, John Cage and the author John Kobler performed a chess match there on an digital chessboard, their strikes producing music of a form. (“It was darkish, it was scorching, and to inform the reality it was awful chess and awful music,” Harold C. Schonberg wrote in The Instances.)

You by no means knew who would possibly present up, as Linda Raiterie, a puppeteer who was a part of a politicized marionette present on the membership, discovered. One night time Mr. Brandt introduced some younger males in because the puppeteers had been getting ready.

“He stated, ‘Puppeteers, Rolling Stones. Rolling Stones, Puppeteers,’’’ she advised The Business Enchantment of Memphis in 2004. “Then, within the blink of an eye fixed, they had been gone.”

In March 1970 a small bomb exploded on the Electrical Circus dance ground, one among a wave of bombings in New York in that interval. The membership by no means fairly overcame the unhealthy publicity and closed in 1971.

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Mr. Brandt was carrying varied hats by then. He managed the Voices of East Harlem, a vocal ensemble that he dropped at nationwide prominence, producing the group’s first album, “Proper On Be Free,” in 1970. He additionally had a hand in producing Carly Simon’s debut album, launched in 1971.

The ill-advised promotional marketing campaign he mounted for Jobriath included a large billboard in Duffy Sq. in Midtown that depicted the would-be star, mendacity on his facet startlingly uncovered, as a decaying statue. The failure of that marketing campaign didn’t discourage Mr. Brandt from pondering large; in 1979 he tried producing on Broadway, bringing a gaudy musical referred to as “Bought Tu Go Disco” to the Minskoff Theater. He thought he would capitalize on the disco craze.

“You don’t need to be a genius to know that is the approaching factor,” he advised The Instances earlier than the present opened. “And have you learnt what excites me probably the most about this? There can be a lot occurring, the viewers won’t ever know what’s coming subsequent.”

The viewers, it seems, didn’t care what was coming subsequent. Richard Eder, reviewing the present in The Instances, referred to as it “as uninteresting to observe as a row of barflies ingesting themselves foolish.” It closed after eight performances, one of the costly flops of the interval.

By the point the Ritz closed downtown in 1989, Mr. Brandt had moved on to the restaurant enterprise, opening Jerry’s Bar and Mesquite Grill on West twenty third Road, which he quickly renamed Spo-Dee-O-Dee’s. Within the mid-Nineteen Nineties he started splitting his time between New York and the Miami space, finally settling in North Miami Seashore.

His first marriage, to Margie Wexler, resulted in divorce. In 1968 he married the actress Janet Margolin; they divorced in 1971. He married Agnetha Gavelius in 1994, they usually divorced in 2000. He’s survived by their youngsters, Juliana and Alexander.

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