History
of the
Knitting Factory

Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, was the Chairman and CEO from 1987-2002.

He no longer has any operational or ownership ties to the organization.

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Dead Man Walking

Louis and I were getting used to working the club ourselves. I would greet people at the door and sit them down, then get their entrance fee and ask what they wanted to eat or drink; Louis worked the bar/kitchen while doing sound and lights. We started to get chicken curry all over the mixing board. Around the third or fourth month of this on a nightly basis, Bob Appel, back from another losing tour with Swamp Thing, began to help out. Not only did he make a great chicken curry, but he was the clear choice to do all the sound. As the music side of the club started to take off and the needs of the musicians became

more important, Bob’s intimate knowledge of sound systems, musicians’ demands, and mixing became more valuable. This, combined with Louis’s disenchantment with working every night in a club and not as the curator of a gallery (we had sold one painting by then, for $200, of which we made 40 percent), suggested that Lou probably wasn’t in it for the long haul. However, it took all our energy these months to keep the club open every night.

By April 1987, I was booking every single night, mostly improvisers or artists in a jazz vein who needed work. Still, not too many people seemed to be responding to the posters I was putting up on the street or to our small ad in the Voice. It was time to get a little more creative. For a photo show we were doing of Raymond Ross’s old jazz pictures, I made a number of different posters using copies of the photos and saying the musicians in them were appearing at the Knitting Factory.
I put these up all over downtown. I remember seeing old Swamp Thing posters I’d put up a few years earlier still wallpaper-pasted to lampposts. We started getting calls from people asking what time Louis Armstrong was playing, or how much tickets were for Eric Dolphy. We would say things like, “They are dead and appearing as part of a photo show. We do, however, have the Jemmel Moondoc Quartet every Monday.” At least we were getting phone calls.