Stanley Snadowsky, Co-Founder of NYC's The Bottom Line, Dies at 70

Bottom Line Club Obit - H 2013
Mario Tama, Getty Images News

He ran the famed Greenwich Village nightclub, which hosted the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Todd Rundgren, Lou Reed and Billy Joel, for almost 30 years before it closed in 2004.

Stanley Snadowsky, a co-founder and the co-operator of The Bottom Line nightclub in New York's Greenwich Village during its eclectic three-decade run, died Feb. 25 of diabetes complications in Las Vegas. He was 70.

The well-respected attorney, who also was one of the first managers/lawyers for Kiss, died surrounded by his family as Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, one of his favorite albums, played, former Bottom Line publicist Carol Klenfner told The Hollywood Reporter.

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Snadowsky and Allan Pepper, his longtime business partner and fellow Brooklynite whom he met in the third grade, ran the 400-capacity Bottom Line, located on West 4th between Mercer and Greene, from Feb. 12, 1974, until it shuttered on Jan. 22, 2004. They took over the space that had been a jazz club called the Red Garter.

On opening night, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder and Johnny Winter jammed onstage to a packed house as Mick Jagger and Carly Simon looked on.

Snadowsky and Pepper would go on to present such acts as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Dolly PartonMiles Davis, The Ramones, Ravi Shankar, Tito Puente, Joan Baez, Dizzy Gillespie, The Pointer Sisters, Prince, The Cars, The Police, Suzanne Vega and thousands of other musicians and comedians.

Lou Reed recorded his 1978 album Live: Take No Prisoners at the Bottom Line, and Harry Chapin held his 2,000th concert at the intimate, cabaret-like club in 1981. And during one memorable 1978 show, Todd Rundgren on piano brought out a ballet dancer to perform and wave silks during "Can We Still Be Friends?"

In August 1975, just weeks before the release of Born to Run, Springsteen played 10 shows over five nights that attained legendary status among fans. More than 1,000 industry insiders attended the shows at the invitation of his label Columbia, helping position him as the breakout star of the year.  

With the Bottom Line owing more than $180,000 in back rent, Snadowsky and Pepper shut the doors when they were unable to reach a new lease agreement with the landlord, New York University. Springsteen and others had offered to pay the club's debts.

Pepper told journalist Jim Bessman that he never met anyone smarter than Snadowsky.

“The Tubes were playing New York for the first time, and their agent called and asked us to extend the stage," Pepper recalled. "Stanley listened very patiently and said, ‘We can do this, but you’ll have to pay for the tickets that we’re knocking out to extend the stage.’ They said OK, and Stanley said, ‘You’ll also have to pay for the food and liquor we’re losing for every one of those seats!’ ”

Snadowsky and Pepper for years looked at opening another Bottom Line, to no avail.

The pair earlier promoted acts for New York jazz clubs like the The Village Gate, Gerde’s Folk City, Steve Paul’s The Scene and The Electric Circus. Later, they participated in the creation of a Bottom Line in Nogaya, Japan.

He and Pepper produced the 1971 Broadway play Dance of Death, written by August Strindberg and starring Rip Torn and Swedish star Viveca Lindfors.

Snadowsky and Pepper also were instrumental in New York Mayor John Lindsay declaring a “Jazz Day” in the city in 1967. 

According to former Kiss drummer Tony Zarrella, Snadowsky was the band’s first manager and attorney in the early 1970s. 

Snadowsky was born May 28, 1942, in Brooklyn. A former Boy Scout, he worked at Nathan’s in Coney Island and was promoted from making French fries to grilling hot dogs on his first day on the job. He attended Stuyvesant High School, Hunter College and Brooklyn Law School.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Michelle -- who, legend has it, beat him only once in Scrabble (she had the better vocabulary, but he was a master at placing the letter tiles to the best advantage for high scoring) -- his daughters Leslie and Daria; and his older brother Alvin.

Andy Lewis contributed to this report.