In 1964, after spending a one year protracted legal battle with the New York City commissioner of licenses, co-club owners, Howard and Elly Solomon were finally granted a "unique" cabaret license without serving liquor and the Cafe Au Go Go opened its doors on February 7, to little or no fan fare. Six weeks later with mounting legal bills and depleting funds the couple were quickly going out of business. With few options, Howard and Elly made a desperate, last minute attempt to keep the new club open and reached out to popular comedian, Lenny Bruce. Lenny and Howard struck a deal and Lenny Bruce opened at the Go Go in March of 64' for a six week stand.Two days into Lenny's performance, he was arrested and booked for obscenity charges, along with Howard and Elly Solomon.
That historic arrest, and the international press it garnered would put the Cafe Au Go Go on the entertainment world map. Lenny's arrest would also trigger a legal odyssey mounted by Howard and Elly that would end up in Albany, New York Supreme court six years later. Howie and Elly would argue and successfully overturn the New York City lower court's earlier "guilty" ruling, becoming one of the pivotal "freedom of speech" cases of the 1960's. Fifty years later that landmark decision still echoes loudly today, continuing to pave the way for a whole new generation of artists and writers.
From 1964 to 1969 the Cafe Au Go Go was a Beacon in the night for many a disenfranchised performer. A few obscure and relatively unknown musicians and comics like Jimi Hendrix, Steven Stills, The Grateful Dead, The Cream, Jefferson's Airplane, Blood Sweat and Tears, Mothers of Invention, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, would all get their start down at the legendary Cafe Au Go Go at 152 Bleecker Street. Many of those artists would influence a whole generation of hip, New York teenagers. In turn, those teenagers would inspire a grass roots movement to help transform the socio-political landscape and consciousness of an entire "hippie" nation during the turbulent 60's.
Come witness and relive the story of one small, 375 seat Greenwich Village night club that became an entertainment mecca and how it's owners, Howard and Elly Solomon would lead a six year crusade and unwittingly shape an iconic part of 1960's 'rock and roll' history. Long past, but certainly not forgotten.