We wasn’t a rock star, but Jimmy Webb became rock royalty due to his ability to make sure everyone left his store looking great.
Photo Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock.com
Those who walked down St. Marks Place, one of the most iconic streets in Manhattan’s East Village, could see Webb hanging out inside or outside of the famous punk rock clothing store, Trash and Vaudeville. His platinum hair and unique style set him apart. But rather than being intimidating, Webb’s warmth was contagious and he saw to it that everyone who entered his store left with an outfit they truly loved.
The East Village and the rock n’ roll world suffered a loss when Webb died yesterday at the age of 62 due to cancer.
Webb was born in Wynantskill, NY. He often visited Manhattan and Trash and Vaudeville was one of his favorite haunts. He had flunked out of beauty school and was working as a bar back but he knew life had better things in store for him.
He wrote Trash and Vaudeville owner Ray Goodman to find out if he would take a chance on hiring him and the rest is history. He hired Webb in 1975, the same year the store opened. Webb went on to become the highest paid employee on St. Marks Place.
In addition to working at Trash and Vaudeville, Webb had the opportunity to work as a stylist for several rock stars including Ace Frehley, Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop. Over the years, he forged deep friendships with them and today, the punk rock world is mourning his loss.
Henry Rollins remembers a time when he was playing in Buffalo and Webb took the train up to surprise him. “He traveled four hours and came in with a bouquet of flowers,” Rollins remembered “He said he just wanted to see me. That was a total Jimmy move. We put the flowers on the tour bus and hoped they wouldn’t get knocked over when we pulled out of a truck stop. Jimmy Webb was one of the sweetest human beings I ever met.”
Skid Row front man Sebastian Bach fondly remembers good times in the shop. “Jimmy Webb was a great friend of mine,” Bach tweeted “I bought every pair of Cuban heeled boots that I wore from 1987 – 2011 at Trash & Vaudeville from Jimmy. Rest in peace brother we will miss you. You came from the time of true rock and roll.”
Others to pay tribute include Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Duff McKagan and Billy Joe Armstrong.
But perhaps Webb’s life could best be summed up in this his own poignant quote. ““I don’t feel sure of many things in life, but I’m sure of two: I’ll be in New York forever, and I’m never leaving Trash and Vaudeville. I want to have them stuff me like — what’s it called? — taxidermy, and put me in a corner. They can rig it so someone can pull a string and I’ll say, ‘You rock,’ or ‘Tighter, tighter, those pants need to be tighter’ — the things I say every day.”
Goodbye Jimmy Webb. New York won’t be the same without you.