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The Ritz was a New York Citymarker rock club in the 1980s.


The Ritz was founded in 1980 by Jerry Brandt on 11th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in the East Villagemarker neighborhood of New York Citymarker. Formerly a ballroom known as Webster Hallmarker, The Ritz still retained some of its previous incarnation's Art Deco style. As a venue, it 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. In its heyday, top acts including Tina Turner, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden, Living Colour, Prince, James Brown, Sting, KISS, The Cult, B.B. King, Slayer, Parliament-Funkadelic, The Cure, The Residents, Suzanne Vega and 10,000 Maniacs performed on its stage.

In 1986 it became the home to Chris Williamson's Rock Hotel club, under which auspices many alternative, metal and punk-rock bands appeared.

Mainly due to concerns over their liquor license, The Ritz relocated to the larger 254 W. 54th Street, the former home of Studio 54marker, in 1989. The 11th Street location was reborn as a dance club, reverting back to its original name, Webster Hallmarker.

Public Image Limited

The club received national attention after an antagonistic performance by Public Image Limited on May 15, 1981. 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.

On Record

  • MTV aired a series of concerts "Live from the Ritz" on Saturday nights in the 1980s. Performers included Gene Loves Jezebel, The Cult, Nik Kershaw, Smithereens, Eurogliders.
  • U2 performed their first live show in the United States at the Ritz on December 6, 1980.
  • Depeche Mode made their American debut at the Ritz in January 1982.
  • Ozzy Osbourne recorded his live album of Black Sabbath material, Speak of the Devil , at The Ritz in 1982.
  • Run-DMC taped an early MTV appearance at The Ritz in 1984.
  • Iggy Pop recorded Live in NYC at the venue in 1986.
  • Bo Diddley recorded Live at the Ritz with Ronnie Wood in 1987.
  • Guns N' Roses recorded Guns N' Roses: Live at the Ritz, a full concert for MTV in 1988.
  • 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
  • The Dictators recorded a few tracks at the club in the early '80s, eventually released on their live album New York, New York.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • Little Steven (aka Steven Van Zandt) filmed a concert in 1988 for broadcast in Japan at which Bruce Springsteen made an appearance.
  • Great White recorded a full concert for MTV in 1987.


Sting made his solo debut at The Ritz in March 1985, prior to the release of his first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles.

External links


  1. setlist + Sounds review/pix of Pil @ The Ritz.
  2. Ed Caraballo's account of Pil @ The Ritz.
  3. Rolling Stone review + other remiscensenses of Pil @ The Ritz.
  4. After Politics, There's Rock, Disco or Pop Clubs to Visit; Rock-Disco ...

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