Jimmy Webb, a downtown fixture and enthusiastic salesman and buyer at iconic East Village rocker fashion haven Trash and Vaudeville, has died, his longtime friends confirm. He was 62.
“We are all going to miss our wonderful friend Jimmy Webb,” Debbie Harry, legendary Blondie frontwoman and Webb muse, 74, told The Post. “There goes a lovely unique NYC character. I feel lucky to have known him.”
Webb has been a stylist at Trash and Vaudeville, a store he dubbed “rock-and-roll heaven,” since 2000 and had become known as the face of the brand before opening his own boutique, I Need More, on the Lower East Side this year.
When reached by The Post, a shipping coordinator with Trash and Vaudeville said they “were actually getting word of [his passing] ourselves just now,” but declined to confirm. No cause of death has been released at this time.
This past February, Webb held what amounted to a last hurrah. At his shop I Need More — named for a song by Iggy Pop — he had two squares of tile removed from the floor so that Pop and Harry could make like Hollywood stars and lay their handprints into plaster. The event was a who’s who of rock ‘n’ roll royalty. Duff McKagan, David Johansen and Henry Rollins were among those in attendance.
“I flew out from LA; I had to be there for Jimmy,” Rollins, 59, told The Post. “He was not doing well, and I had no doubt that it would be my last time seeing him. Cancer is a hell of a thing.”
Rollins remembers on at least one occasion, not long ago, he played Buffalo and an ailing Webb took the train up to surprise him backstage. “He traveled four hours and came in with a bouquet of flowers,” Rollins recounted. “He said he just wanted to see me. That was a total Jimmy move. We put the flowers on the tour bus and hoped they wouldn’t get knocked over when we pulled out of a truck stop. Jimmy Webb was one of the sweetest human beings I ever met.”
Tributes from friends came in on Tuesday including Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, 52. “Jimmy Webb was a great friend of mine,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “I bought every pair of Cuban heeled boots that I wore from 1987 – 2011 at Trash & Vaudeville from Jimmy. Rest in peace brother we will miss you. You came from the time of true rock and roll.”
“Farewell, dear Jimmy. The sweetest, kindest, rock and roll soul. I’ll never forget you,” tweeted actress Maureen Van Zandt, 68. Chris Stein, 70, the guitarist for Blondie, also shared a tribute on Twitter Tuesday.
“We are true mom-and-pop, the bodega of rock ’n’ roll clothing,” Webb told The New York Times of Trash and Vaudeville in 2013. “It’s here because of truth and spirit, just like Iggy Pop giving it his best every night and going all the way until everything in your body is broken except your soul and rock ’n’ roll.”
Many have recalled interactions with Webb as a memorable experience thanks to his rebellious candor, infectious energy and edgy fashion sense with a fervor for tight pants.
Becka Diamond of New York City tells The Post she met Webb through a friend and convinced her the tighter the pants, the closer to rock godliness.
“We used to drop in and hang with him and he’d always be painting the jeans on me,” she recalls. “He’d say ‘They’re going to stretch, you need to go smaller!’ until they were skin tight and I needed to be zipped in. And of course, they looked great that way. Jimmy was the coolest and kindest punk.”
A true eccentric and authentic punk rocker, the Wynantskill, New York, native was responsible for styling some of the greats he called his friends, including KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, Blondie and Iggy Pop.
But it wasn’t just rockers and famous faces who adored Webb for his devotion to rock ‘n’ roll duds. (In 2006, Webb told The Post that bondage pants were acceptable to wear to work, “just take the straps off.”) Mourners from all over paid tribute to Webb’s keen eye for fashion and contagious energy.
“Knew Jimmy since I was a teenager. He sold me my first pair of bondage pants at T&V,” one fan wrote.
“Trash was the 1st spot I ever made a beeline for when I visited New York as an adult before I moved here, and last time I saw him he told me the collar I was trying on really complemented my tits,” tweeted another fan.
“My aunt took me there when I was 13. Jimmy helped me pick out soooo many outfits. He was so supportive of a 13-year-old little girl who was trying to figure out who she was in the world,” added another.
Webb himself remembers stumbling upon the punk rock haven, too, well before working there many years later. In 1975, the same year Trash and Vaudeville opened, Webb was a teen who ran away from home to New York with a pillowcase full of clothes and a whole lot of heart.
“Coming into Trash and Vaudeville my first time, I knew I’d found a home and I wasn’t crazy,” he told the NYTimes.
After working as a bar back and flunking out of beauty school, Webb wrote a letter to T&V owner Ray Goodman asking for a job. Goodman took a “chance” on Webb and within a year, he became the highest-paid employee at the St. Mark’s Place store, which moved to East 7th Street in 2016, The New Yorker reported.
The rest, as they say, is history. Webb’s presence has become an appendage of the store, whether he was commanding the floor and offering matter-of-fact commentary or presiding over the storefront’s iconic stoop — in leather-clad glory.
“I don’t feel sure of many things in life, but I’m sure of two: I’ll be in New York forever, and I’m never leaving Trash and Vaudeville,” he told The New Yorker in 2007. “I want to have them stuff me like — what’s it called? — taxidermy, and put me in a corner. They can rig it so someone can pull a string and I’ll say, ‘You rock,’ or ‘Tighter, tighter, those pants need to be tighter’—the things I say every day.”