Danny Fields, who is sixty-nine, and whose many roles in the music industry have included co-managing the Ramones, was a young editor at a music magazine when he began going to Max’s, in 1966, a few months after it opened. He had connections to Warhol’s crowd (Edie Sedgwick crashed with him for a while), which helped him get into the back room. He brought Jim Morrison there, in 1968, an occasion that did not go well. (Morrison peed in a wine bottle.) It was Fields who invited Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe into the back room for the first time, in the early seventies, an event that features in Smith’s recent memoir, “Just Kids.” Fields introduced Iggy Pop to David Bowie there, in 1971. “Someone called me to say David Bowie was there and wanted to meet Iggy, who was crashed at my place,” he recalled. “So I go, ‘Wake up, Iggy! Wake up! Bowie wants to meet you!’ And five minutes later we were there.”
Max’s was conceived of by Mickey Ruskin, a local restaurateur, as an artists’ bar, like the Cedar Tavern in the nineteen-fifties. Earlier, Ruskin had owned two coffeehouses and a bar in the Village, but “he discovered that poets don’t drink,” Fields said. “Artists do drink, but they don’t pay,” which was part of the reason Ruskin went out of business, in 1974. He died in 1983.