Ruth Polsky

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Ruth Polsky (December 5, 1954 - September 7, 1986) was a pioneering booker and music promoter in New York City. She died after being crushed by a runaway cab on the steps of the Limelight club in New York.

Lene Lovich, Ruth Polsky and Les Chappell, 1978(?) by Nigel Dick

"A driver for a car service has been charged with running a red light after his vehicle collided with a taxicab that spun out of control, struck and killed a woman in front of the Limelight discotheque in Chelsea, the police said yesterday. The victim, who was killed instantly Sunday night when the cab pinned her against the front of the building at 47 West 20th Street, was identified yesterday as Ruth Polsky of 90 West Houston Street, according to a police spokesman, Officer Joseph McConville" ,New York Times September 9, 1986

During the period 1979 until her death, Ruth was talent buyer at Hurrah[1] and then Danceteria in New York, also promoting shows at The Ritz and booking bands out across the country. In this role she was crucial in breaking many, particularly UK-based, post-punk acts in the USA, including tours for The Smiths, New Order, Einstürzende Neubauten, The Only Ones, The Sisters of Mercy, The Birthday Party, Cocteau Twins, and The Chameleons. She worked closely with Shirley O'Loughlin[1] at Rough Trade to bring in The Raincoats, Delta 5, Young Marble Giants, Cabaret Voltaire, The Go-Betweens, The Slits and The Pop Group for their US debuts. Ruth booked the Joy Division USA tour in May 1980, which was canceled after Ian Curtis' death. Other bands that got their first USA break via Ruth are A Certain Ratio, Echo & the Bunnymen, Simple Minds, The Teardrop Explodes, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Gene Loves Jezebel.

Notes 1979-1986[edit]

Ruth is quoted after attending Elvis Costello's first USA shows including the notorious April Fools' Day Marathon on April 1, 1979.[2]

Ruth wrote an article on Lene Lovich for The Aquarian in July 1979.

Ruth booked Simple Minds into Hurrah for a show on October 24, 1979, where the band were filmed by The Old Grey Whistle Test, giving them crucial UK TV exposure. [2]

Ruth's close relationship with Stiff Records led to a package show Taking Liberties at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park on February 21, 1981, featuring New York bands The dB's, The Fleshtones, Raybeats, Bush Tetras, The Bongos, and Polyrock. Live tracks recorded at the show of all except Polyrock were released on a Stiff compilation called Start Swimming. [3] NY Times article

Ruth managed Certain General from 1984–1986, and released Will You on her own S.U.S.S. label. [4]

Ruth contributed photography to the Sisters of Mercy 1985 album First and Last and Always

Morrissey dedicated The Smiths' single Shoplifters of the World Unite to her memory. [5] [6]

The Virgin Prunes dedicated their 1986 live album The Hidden Lie to her - "If this is a goodbye LP then it's a special farewell to Ruth Polsky." [7]

On December 5, 1986, New Order played a benefit for Ruth at the Roxy in New York, encoring with Joy Division tunes Atmosphere and Love Will Tear Us Apart.


A story was told by her dad at her funeral of how Ruth fell out of a car when she was a baby, but was retrieved when they drove back looking for her.

Ruth was later engaged to Paul Conroy, the general manager of Stiff Records.

Ruth almost managed The Smiths in February 1984 [8]

"Ruth was the first to place monitors around a club and play video for the dancers. She had willed her records to the ARChive, but ghoulish record dealers camp out on the steps and buy them off the family." [3]


  1. ^ Joe, R.: Disco Forum Report: Keys to Successful Programming Are Mulled, pg. 48, Billboard, August 16, 1980
  2. ^ Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ The ARChive of Contemporary Music

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