The Bitter End

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The Bitter End
Plaque showing landmark status granted on July 23, 1992.
Landmark status granted on July 23, 1992

The Bitter End is a 230-person capacity nightclub, coffeehouse and folk music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village. It opened in 1961 at 147 Bleecker Street under the auspices of owner Fred Weintraub. The club changed its name to The Other End in June 1975. However, after a few years the owners changed the club's name back to the more recognizable The Bitter End. It remains open under new ownership.


An earlier club, The Cock and Bull, operated on the same premises with the same format, in the late 1950s. The poet and comedian Hugh Romney (who later became known as Wavy Gravy) read there.

The Bitter End was originally a coffeeshop.[1] According to The New York Times, "The Bitter End, which opened in 1961, considers itself to be New York’s oldest rock club and built a legendary reputation after showcasing young performers like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor and comedians like Woody Allen and Billy Crystal." At the club, Bob Dylan played pool, watched performances, and occasionally performed[2] circa 1961.[3]

During the early 1960s, the club hosted folk music "hootenannies" every Tuesday night, featuring many performers who have since become legendary. During its heyday The Bitter End showcased a wide range of talented and legendary musicians, comedians, and theatrical performers.[4][5]

In 1968 Paul Colby (1917–2014), who began his career as a song plugger for Benny Goodman’s publishing company, and went on to work for Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, and Guy Lombardo, became the manager and booking agent at The Bitter End, and in 1974 he purchased it.[6][7] He purchased it about a decade after he began managing the club. Owner Paul Colby died in 2014. He had two partners in the club, Paul Rizzo and Ken Gorka.[8] A tribute concert was held for Colby after his death.[9] Kenny Gorka died in 2015.[10] Gorka was an original member of New Jersey band The Critters.

According to Colby, James Taylor bombed when he played the club in 1969, and Neil Young also bombed at the club.[11] In the mid 1970s, the club became known as the birthplace of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, which featured such names as Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Ronee Blakely, Mick Ronson, and many other guest stars.

The Bitter End was granted landmark status by the city of New York in 1992. Also in 1992, the venue's landlord tried to evict the bar, with the venue saved by benefit performances by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Kris Kristofferson, George Carlin and others.[1]

Lady Gaga performed at the bar in October 2016, after previously performing there an unsigned act, before the release of her debut album. The performance was part of Gaga's Dive Bar Tour.[12]

Live albums recorded[edit]

Numerous musical albums have been recorded at The Bitter End, including albums by Biff Rose ("Half-live at the Bitter End"), Peter, Paul and Mary, Randy Newman, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, The Isley Brothers and Tommy James & the Shondells, The Chad Mitchell Trio, and Bill Haley & His Comets. Comedy albums recorded there include Bill Cosby's first album, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!, and comedian Chris Rush's second album, Beaming In.


These comedians appeared at The Bitter End early in their careers.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Richling, Billy (February 18, 2014). "Goodbye Paul Colby: Famed Owner of The Bitter End Passes Away". Observer. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  2. ^ "Exploring Bob Dylan's New York". The New York Times. October 18, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  3. ^ "Fifty Years Ago Today: Bob Dylan Arrived In New York". Rolling Stone. January 24, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  4. ^ Santoro, Gene (8 June 2003). "Gene Santoro, NY Times review, Beginning at the Bitter End.: SERIOUSLY FUNNY The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. By Gerald Nachman". NY Times. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ Nachman, Gerald (2003). Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 659. ISBN 9780375410307. OCLC 50339527.
  6. ^ "No End for the Bitter End". Archived from the original on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Yeshiva University Commentator -- Volume 62, Issue 11". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 20, 2014), "Paul Colby, Whose Club Helped Fuel Greenwich Village's Rise, Dies at 96", New York Times, retrieved September 24, 2017
  9. ^ A Musical Tribute To Paul Colby The Bitter End, The Aquarian, June 23, 2014, retrieved September 28, 2017
  10. ^ Valentino, Silas (March 26, 2015). "The Bitter End Pays Tribute to Owner Kenny Gorka's Legacy". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  11. ^ "Paul Colby - obituary", Telegraph, March 18, 2014, retrieved September 28, 2017
  12. ^ Lady Gaga Returns to NYC Bar Where She Launched Her Career, NBC New York, October 21, 2016, retrieved September 28, 2017
  13. ^ a b c d e f Rivers, Joan; Meryman, Richard (1986). Enter Talking. New York: Delacorte Press. pp. 325–333. ISBN 0-385-29440-9.
  14. ^ Sutherland, Sam (June 23, 1973). "Talent in action". Billboard Magazine. p. 20.
  15. ^ Ghomeshi, Jian. "Gilbert Gottfried on Q". CBC Radio. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  16. ^ New York Times Archives.
  17. ^ "Don't believe a word I say with Bob Segarini |". Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  18. ^ Colby, P.; Fitzpatrick, M. (2002). The Bitter End: Hanging Out at America's Nightclub. Cooper Square Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780815412069. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

External links[edit]

40°43′42″N 73°59′57″W / 40.7283°N 73.9992°W / 40.7283; -73.9992Coordinates: 40°43′42″N 73°59′57″W / 40.7283°N 73.9992°W / 40.7283; -73.9992