October 21, 2012: Steve Paul, Owner of The Scene, Dies

Steve Paul, 1941-2012
Steve Paul, 1941-2012

In keeping with this week’s Morrison/Hendrix theme, we post our remembrance of The Scene’s owner Steve Paul. Mr. Paul was a significant, if not widely known, figure in ’60s rock.

Rock ‘n’ roll nightclub owner and impresario Steve Paul has died at age 71. Mr. Paul was of course the owner of the New York nightclub ‘The Scene’ from 1964 until the club closed in 1970.

‘The Scene’ helped many rock acts by giving them a popular place to play. The Doors played ‘The Scene’ in 1967 and received their first laudatory reviews from the New York critics in response. ‘The Scene’ was also where Morrison and Tom Baker stood at the bottom of the stairway of the club throwing glasses out into the street and screaming, which scared even Baker who expected hordes of police to come rushing in at any moment. Jim Morrison was also once quoted as saying, “I like to hang around Steve Paul and listen to him rap, he’s funny.”

The Doors at The Scene, June 1967
The Doors, Moby Grape, and The Seeds at The Scene, June 1967
Live at The Scene, June 12-15, 1967
Live at The Scene, June 12-15, 1967
Magazine Ad For "The Crystal Ship"
Magazine ad For “The Crystal Ship”. (Click for full size.) The Scene’s famous stage mural can be seen in the background.

The club was also a place where musicians liked to stop in and jam. Jimi Hendrix was often there, and other musicians that frequented or played the club were Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Chambers Brothers, and Johnny Winter, Winter being one who Paul would later go on to record for his own music label.

Mr. Paul opened ‘The Scene’ in 1964 when he was only 23 years old. He decorated the 5,000 square-foot club like a Parisian disco and called it his “canvas.” In the pre-Studio 54 days it was a hangout for stars such as Andy Warhol (who shot a movie in the club), Liza Minnelli, and playwright Tennessee Williams. When the club fell on hard times, luminaries like Allen Ginsberg and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame provided financial assistance to keep the place going. Mr. Paul also hosted a TV show called ‘Steve Paul’s The Scene’ which was nationally syndicated.

In addition to his club, Mr. Paul was known for his acerbic wit and for managing and recording artists such as Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, and David Johansen through his Blue Sky Records.

There is a Facebook page for ‘Steve Paul’s The Scene.’

Originally published October 25, 2012.

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