Loser’s Lounge celebrating 25 years; Joe McGinty tells us his Top 5 memorable moments
Led by Joe McGinty, the Loser’s Lounge has been paying tribute to pop greats since December 1993, and have had all manner of special guest vocalists over the years, including Cyndi Lauper, J Mascis, Joey Ramone, Bob Mould, Justin Vivian Bond, Lee Hazlewood, Ronnie Spector, Parker Posey, John Cameron-Mitchell, Moby, Fred Armisen, Lana Del Rey in her Lizzy Grant days, and more.
After years at Fez, Westbeth Theater, and other venues (Bowery Ballroom, Lincoln Center), The Losers Lounge has been performing its tributes at Joe’s Pub. This week marks Loser’s Lounge 25 anniversary and they’re celebrating with three nights of Paul Williams tributes at Joe’s Pub on Thursday (12/6), Friday (12/7), and Saturday (12/8) with 7 PM and 9:30 PM shows and tickets are on sale.
Speaking of Paul Williams, he actually showed up at his own Loser’s Lounge’s tribute in 2001 and sang “Rainbow Connection” which he wrote for The Muppet Movie. We’ll let Joe tell you a little more about that one, as we asked him to pick his top five most memorable Loser’s Lounge moments, and those also include stories involving Lee Hazlewood, Jim Thirlwell, Gilbert Gottfried, La La Brooks (The Crystals), Richard Dreyfuss, and more. Read those, and check out the original posters from the shows and video from a couple of them, below.
JOE MCGINTY – TOP 5 LOSER’S LOUNGE MOMENTS
LEE HAZLEWOOD LOSER’S LOUNGE, April 1999
We planned a tribute to Lee Hazlewood to coincide with his PR trip to NYC when Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records were re-releasing some of his records. Lee sat in the back, drinking Chivas and regaling people with stories. Though he made it clear that he wouldn’t sing, at the end of the show he got on stage and made a sweet, heartfelt (and somewhat rambling) speech. He was genuinely touched by our show.
PAUL WILLIAMS LOSER’S LOUNGE, June 2001
When we honored Paul Williams in June, 2001, we knew he would be in attendance. Paul sat right in the front row, and was like an enthusiastic cheerleader the whole time. Hearing him sing “Rainbow Connection” with his co-composer Kenny Ascher on piano, was a real “goosebumps” moment. AND he convinced his friend, Richard Dreyfuss, to sing the karaoke number, “Rainy Days and Mondays.”
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THE “SPILLED BEER” INCIDENT, DAVID BOWIE LOSER’S LOUNGE, NOVEMBER 2001
The David Bowie tributes shortly after 9/11 seemed to have an extra level of intensity. And a particularly dramatic moment occurred during Jim Thirlwell’s performance of “We Are The Dead.” We heard bursts of white noise. Then the bursts became longer until it was a constant wash of noise, completely drowning out the band. The sound system crapped out, apparently due to a beer spill on the mixing board. Undaunted, the band and singers huddled backstage and decided to perform completely unplugged, with minimal amplification and no microphones. The first song, an audience sing-a-long to “Space Oddity,” felt like a genuine healing and bonding moment. And it felt great to be a New Yorker.
LA LA BROOKS at the JOHN LENNON LOSER’S LOUNGE, October 2013
La La Brooks of the Crystals (“Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Then He Kissed Me”) is still an incredible performer, and I sometimes play in her band. When I mentioned that our next show was a tribute to John Lennon, she told me that she’d always wanted to sing “Woman Is The N***er Of The World.” Needless to say, she brought the house down.
GILBERT GOTTFRIED at the BARRY MANILOW/BETTE MIDLER LOSER’S LOUNGE, OCTOBER 2018
I’m friends with some of the team for “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast” (which is amazing, by the way). I’d heard him “sing” “Ready To Take A Chance Again” from Foul Play (if you could call it singing, LOL). We left that song open, in case he got inspired “in the moment”. And, of course, once he was at the show, he couldn’t help himself and delivered the song in his own inimitable style.