Wednesday, April 18, 2018

B.B. King's


B.B. King's blues club on 42nd Street is closing at the end of April.

In a press release, they wrote:

"Despite many sold out shows, the location's rent escalated to an unsustainable level, leaving us no choice but to close our doors. Unfortunately this has become a growing trend in New York City, with other iconic music venues and businesses falling victim to opportunistic property owners. This venue's legacy extends much further than the stage, playing a role in Times Square's revitalization two decades ago. It is a shame that wasn't taken into consideration regarding its future in the area."

after the death of B.B. King

As they say, B.B. King's played a role in the redevelopment of 42nd Street, helping to change it from honky-tonk to tourist-friendly. In her definitive book on the topic, Times Square Roulette, Lynn Sagalyn notes B.B. King's as one of the "rush of commercial developments" defining the New 42nd Street.

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, she writes, brought "upscale style compared to its decade-old venue in Greenwich Village [The Blue Note]; if successful, the brand-hopeful will expand the concept to other cities."

When they moved to 42nd St. in 1999, the Times listed it among many other theme restaurants, noting, "The revival of Times Square has attracted everything from a wax museum and a Warner Brothers store to a restaurant for wrestling fans. But until now no new nightclubs have announced plans to move to the district, once the epicenter of night life in New York."

It's yet another case of hyper-gentrification eating its own. Still, B.B. King's was locally grown and it was loved by many New Yorkers--who would not be caught dead on the New 42nd Street except to see a show at B.B. King's.

It's also yet another case of hiked rent pushing out a successful business. While people like Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen want to say that the city should not be protecting businesses because “there are some small businesses that are probably going to just fail because they’re not very good businesses," New Yorkers know that good businesses "fail" every day because their landlords decide to force them out.

The club's owners are currently looking for a new location in Manhattan.


Vince Neilstein said...

Please -- anyone who went there regularly for any amount of time (due to the specific bands booked there) will tell you it was not a good place to see a show. The sight lines were terrible, drinks incredibly expensive, and no one likes going to Times Square for any reason. Meanwhile, plenty of great, new music venues have popped up all over the place -- Brooklyn Steel, Saint Vitus Bar, Elsewhere, etc. BB King's will not be missed by many.

JM said...

Seen a lot of great shows there. Robert Gordon with Chris Spedding, Bootsy Collins, Sparrow...hope they find a new spot. Some of the people they've presented just wouldn't get a venue otherwise.

Fat Al said...


Unknown said...

B.B. King's actually had two rooms: the main one where you had a minimum and paid to see a name act (and granted, some "tribute" acts as well)and a smaller lounge area where you could also hear live music, get a drink, etc. without spending a lot(I think it was called Lucille's Lounge). This is still depressing, even if this venue was part of "the new Times Square." Live music is a vital part of NYC, but apparently not as vital a part as greed and re-development.

Kyle Campion said...

So I guess people are ordering blues on Amazon these days?

RMAN said...

My oh my, the greed in this city never ends.

Of all the places too - BB King's is a relatively affordable place to see talent and more comfortably so than the Blue Note. A friend of mine played both places many times, I also preferred BB's lack of attitude.

Sad to see BB go, though I always considered it one of the original gentrifiers of Time Square after Giuliani secretly had all the hookers and homeless killed. But it was a great venue with old school charm, so it ended up being ok in my book.

Frosty said...

Sad news. I wasn't a regular there, but saw many a great act. NYC used to be a music town, loads of clubs. No more.

meesalikeu said...

Meh. It wasn’t all really all that or even around long enough to fret over. They were nice and the sound was ok, but it was kind of dire in there and it always had weird, uncomfortable drafty air. They’ll probably reopen somewhere else too I would guess.