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Don Hill, RIP

Don Hill (photo by Julian Ungano)
Don Hill
Don Hill

As tweeted by Moby (see above) and many other notable club veterans, and confirmed to me via a call to Don Hill’s who said there is a memorial tonight (3/31) at the club (toast at midnight), nightclub owner and legend Don Hill has sadly passed away. Though details are scarce at the moment, some on Twitter are saying he was “found dead in his apartment” “this morning“. Update: someone seemingly in the know says: “He passed away at the hospital. Not in his apartment. It was this evening around 7, not this morning.” And Bebe Buell adds (in reaction to the last minute midnight toast), “Don’s actual memorial will be the biggest coming together of all the people he has helped+supported-those of us who loved him+knew him well.” Stay tuned for more info.

Murray Hill calls it the end of an era. Miss Guy says he was the nicest person in nightlife. Justine D agrees. I didn’t know him personally, but I always liked seeing him hanging around his club that shared his name. He opened Don Hill’s in the early 90’s and before that managed the East Village’s Cat Club (David Bowie & Peter Frampton played there in 1987). “American Hardcore” author Steven Blush (who also worked at Don Hill’s) once wrote

I booked [GG Allen] at the Cat Club. His most infamous part of the show is to shit on the stage and throw it at the crowd and got thrown out. I got written up in the Village Voice for the show that I had put on. The irony, of course, is that the manager of the Cat Club was Don Hill and I couldn’t work any more at that club after that but we always remained friendly….

Don Hill is the best club owner in New York. After the Cat Club, when that closed, a couple of years later, Don did what he was supposed to do, which was own his own club. Don has the support of the whole club community of the local neighborhood which is unheard of for clubs. The clubs got a great reputation. Sometimes I wish we were bigger and trashier, but then we wouldn’t be Don Hill’s.”

Cat Club
Don Hills

As posted back in August 2010 when it was announced that Don Hill’s was closing for renovations, Steve Lewis wroteDon Hill

Don Hill’s was born in April 1993 to much flag waving, fanfare and hoopla. The Smithereens set the tone that night and it has since become a virtual rock and roll hall of fame. Don has booked the joint, hired staff, run day to day and night to night operations, he’s answered the phones and I suspect that on some nights he swept out the joint. He will now be joined by superheroes Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny. They will come in with mad skills, new energy and cash to redux the place. They will merge with Don to create more of the same but even better.”

Since re-opening with the new partners on board, the club has in fact been the scene of many high profile and hard to get into events, most notably a fashion week show by Iggy Pop. According to Nur Khan, they also “had LCD Soundsystem booked,” but “there were complications with production and stage size so we were unable to do the gig.” There were rumors this week that the Strokes would do a show there before or after their sold out gig at MSG (I haven’t been able to prove those rumors though, or the show fell through).

R.I.P. Don Hill (both of them)

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