The Ritz (rock club)

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The Ritz was a New York City rock club in the 1980s and early 1990s.


The Ritz was founded in 1980 by Jerry Brandt in the historic Webster Hall ballroom and concert space on 11th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. The address was 119 East 11th Street. The Ritz focused primarily on live performances, often of newer acts, but also featured dancing. The Ritz was one of the first clubs to incorporate video screens into the club experience with a 30' screen and a projector which cost $120,000. MTV made its debut at The Ritz. In April 1989, The Ritz moved to the site of the former Studio 54 on 254 West 54th Street, where it was called "The New Ritz" and continued to host concerts for several years.[1] From 1990 onward it reverted to the name "The Ritz." The original 11th Street space is now known as Webster Hall.

Public Image Limited appearance[edit]

The club received national attention after an antagonistic performance by Public Image Limited on May 15, 1981. They were a late substitution for Bow Wow Wow, who were originally scheduled to perform. The band was more interested in creating performance art than giving a traditional concert. To this end, they appeared onstage deliberately obscured by a projection screen and played their records through the club's public address system while playing entirely different music onstage. Taunted by lead singer John Lydon (formerly of the Sex Pistols), the Ritz's unhappy patrons rioted, throwing bottles and garbage cans, and pulling on the video screen that covered the front of the stage.[2][3][4]

MTV's "Live from The Ritz"[edit]

MTV aired a series of concerts called "Live from The Ritz" on Saturday nights in the 1980s. Performers included Guns N' Roses, Gene Loves Jezebel, the Saints, the Cult, Nik Kershaw, the Smithereens, Julian Cope, Great White, Hoodoo Gurus, White Lion, Iggy Pop, Eurogliders and Simon Townshend.


  • Tina Turner mounted her comeback at The Ritz in the early 1980s.
  • Klaus Nomi performed "Total Eclipse" at The Ritz in 1980 for the new wave/post-punk film Urgh! A Music War.
  • U2 performed their first live show in the United States at The Ritz on December 6, 1980.
  • The Dictators recorded a few tracks at the club circa 1981, eventually released on their live album New York, New York.
  • Parliament-Funkadelic first performed at the club in April 1981. They returned to the venue in 1984, 1990, 1992 and 1993.
  • Duran Duran performed at The Ritz in September 1981 during their first U.S. tour.
  • "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?", the only live track on the Misfits' Walk Among Us, was recorded at The Ritz in 1981. Parts of Evilive were also recorded there in 1981.
  • Rick Derringer recorded a Ritz show in 1982, released in 2009 as Rick Derringer's Rock Spectacular: Live at The Ritz, New York 1982, featuring guests Ted Nugent, Tim Bogert, Karla DeVito and Southside Johnny.
  • Depeche Mode made their American debut at the Ritz in January 1982.
  • Ozzy Osbourne recorded a live album of Black Sabbath material, titled Speak of the Devil, at The Ritz on September 26–27, 1982.
  • Dead or Alive performed two sold out shows at The Ritz in 1983 during their first U.S. tour.
  • Run-DMC taped an early MTV appearance at The Ritz in 1984.
  • Sting made his solo debut at The Ritz on February 26, 1985, prior to the release of his first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles.
  • The Exploited performed at The Ritz in September 1985 during their third U.S. tour, supported by U.S. Chaos and the Cro-Mags, and the club was almost shut down due to death threats.
  • Bo Diddley recorded Live at The Ritz with Ronnie Wood in 1985.
  • The second disc of British metal band Venom's live double album, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, was recorded at The Ritz on April 4–5, 1986.
  • Wang Chung recorded a concert for MTV in June 1986.
  • Iggy Pop recorded Live Ritz N.Y.C. 86 at the venue in November 1986.
  • D.R.I. recorded Live at The Ritz on June 27, 1987.
  • Little Steven (aka Steven Van Zandt) filmed a Ritz concert in October 8, 1987 for broadcast in Japan, at which Bruce Springsteen made an appearance.
  • Guns N' Roses recorded Guns N' Roses: Live at The Ritz, a full concert for MTV on February 2, 1988, as well as the live footage used for the "You Could Be Mine" music video in 1991.
  • White Lion made a television recording at the club in 1988. This concert was released as the second disc of the 2007 compilation The Definitive Rock Collection.
  • Danzig filmed music videos for their songs "Mother" and "Twist of Cain" at the club in early 1988.
  • "Memories Can't Wait" from the Living Colour EP Biscuits was recorded live at the club on April 22, 1989.
  • The final live performance by Talking Heads took place at The Ritz in July 1989, with David Byrne and Jerry Harrison guesting at a Tom Tom Club show.
  • The first US show for Sepultura was at The Ritz opening for King Diamond on October 31, 1989.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan gave his final New Year's Eve performance at The Ritz on December 31, 1989.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°43′54″N 73°59′21″W / 40.73175°N 73.98912°W / 40.73175; -73.98912