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Cafe Wha? was were Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and more performed at the start of their careers. And none of that would have been possible if Manny Roth didn’t say yes. Roth, the owner of the iconic club, has died at age 94.
Jodi Roth, his daughter, confirmed to the Associated Press that Roth died of natural causes on July 25. He died at his home in Ojai, California. He was the uncle of Van Halen singer David Lee Roth.
Roth was a central figure in the Greenwich Village scene in the early 1960s, as his plain basement room on Macdougal Street became the home of countless great performers, notes The New York Times. His daughter told the Times that he loved the nickname “Duke of Macdougal Street.”
The club was advertised with the phrase “Greenwich Village’s Swingingest Coffee House” and it really was. Roth hosted not only musicians, but poets, artists and beatniks - essentially, anyone who needed an outlet to make an artistic statement.
Cafe Wha? will probably be best known for Dylan’s reverence for the spot, as one of the first places her performed at when he arrived in New York from Minnesota. He even recounted the food in his Chronicles - Volume 1 autobiography.
Although Roth did leave Cafe Wha? behind in the late 1960s, a new owner brought it back to life and it continues to operate.