Jimmy Webb, who for years worked as an iconic salesman, buyer, and manager for Trash and Vaudeville, one of New York City’s most famous punk-rock shops, is dead at 62. The news was confirmed by a close friend on Tuesday night, reports Rolling Stone, and the cause of death is said to have been cancer. Webb was known as the store’s unofficial shopkeeper, and its heart and soul. He played a key role in shaping the St. Marks Place store into an East Village Institution, capturing the hearts of both local weirdos and big-time rockstars, many of whom he counted as personal clients and friends.
Trash and Vaudeville first opened its doors on St. Marks Place in 1975, the same year Webb arrived in New York City as a teen runway. He began working there in 1999—after having begged the owner Ray Goodman to hire him. “Coming into Trash and Vaudeville my first time, I knew I’d found a home and I wasn’t crazy,” he previously told the New York Times. Webb’s responsibilities at Trash and Vaudeville grew over the years, and his unwavering eye for pin-thin jeans, studded accessories, and all things leather went on to make it the spot for serious rockers to get their gear. Webb’s influence extended far beyond the world of rock ’n’ roll; he was known to dress well-known drag queens as well as the Queen bee herself, Beyoncé.
Several of Webb’s high profile friends and clients took to social media last night to honor his memory. Singer Joan Jett released a statement about the “St. Marks legend,” writing, “I’m so very sad and we’ll all miss your energetic, warm soul. The city will not be the same without you.” In an Instagram tribute, Manhattan nightlight doyenne Ladyfag wrote, “Thanks for helping keep our city freaky & full of rock n roll spirit. You were as kind as you were punk.” Sebastian Bach, former Skid Row frontman, also tweeted, “I bought every pair of Cuban heeled boots that I wore from 1987 – 2011 at Trash & Vaudeville from Jimmy…. You came from the time of true rock and roll.”
Indeed, Webb embodied an authentic rock and roll spirit. You would often see him hanging outside on the store’s stoop or commanding the sales floor with his eccentric energy. His style also exemplified the rough-and-tough wears that you would find inside. Webb’s creative presence at the store also made it a playground for editorial and celebrity stylists to visit, many of whom would drop in to see Webb and pull items for their latest shoots.
In 2016, Trash and Vaudeville moved from its iconic Saint Marks Place address, a few blocks down to East Seventh Street, and Webb followed the store. “I see it as a new beginning,” Webb told at the time. “I’ll never say anything bad about St. Marks. It’s been great to me.” In February of this year, Webb had also opened his own rock-themed boutique, I Need More, on the Lower East Side. The opening party for it drew in a number of big names, including performers such as Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, and more. Because where Webb went, rock royalty always followed.