The sad and drug word of the ultimate flip of the grand swinger Art D'Lugoff has reached LBC five weeks after the fact. Best known for his legendary New York nightclub the Village Gate, D'Lugoff was also a strident champion of artists and artistic expression and a unoffical spokesman for the West Village. And among his countless other projects he was involved in kickstarting the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of D'Luggof to New York's art and cultural scene. So many headline artists worked the Gate: John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Woody Allen, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonious Monk , Nina Simone, Dick Gregory, Pete Seeger. He even had once and future theatre and film princes waiting tables: Dustin Hoffman and Sam Shepard.
He is important to Buckleyphiles for his giving Lord Buckley a place to perform just prior to Buckley's star crossed appearance at the Jazz Gallery. And D'Lugoff also took up the cause of the Cabaret Card in an attempt to get His Lordship's precious bit of cardboard permission reinstated. You know how the neighbors are.
In a November 2000 interview in Seattle with Michael Monteleone, D'Lugoff recalled hiring Buckley for the Village Gate.
"Well, let's see. I had found out from a friend of mine that he was in New York. I knew about his recordings and his reputation as, not being just a comedian but being someone who was doing something unusual. And doing things in so called, what then would be negro - I wouldn't call it dialect but "black talk" "jive" things like that. And that it was very funny. And it was satiric and I heard a few of the things and I said, "Oh, boy, this, this guy sounds interesting. And I was thinking maybe we could book him at the Village Gate, which I had just started at that time.
Well, he was an imposing character. I remember, I think he had, pretty much a flushed red face, if I remember. And I remember he had grey hair. I believe he had a moustache. He looked like somebody very military. Like some officer in the British Army, something like that. He gave that impression. I mean, you know, he had that look, like the authoritative look. And he really commanded the audience. He really took charge once he got on that stage and you just paid attention."
LBC salutes The Gate of The Gate, the late great Art D'Lugoff.