From 1986 until 1990, I worked the door at the Cat & Fiddle pub, owned by a sprightly, elfin Englishman named Kim Gardner. Kim had played bass for such classic English bands as the Creation, the English Birds, and the legendary Ashton, Gardner and Dyke. The embodiment of the first British rock invasion, Kim looked like a rock & roller from the top of his Jeff Beck spiked hair down to his multicolored Winkle-Picker shoes. On my first night working for him, I met Michael Schenker, one of my guitar heroes, and, being a hick from Littleton, Colorado, I was starstruck to the gills. I would eventually meet enough celebrities at the Sunset Boulevard pub (which Kim and his lovely wife, Paula, had originally opened on Laurel Canyon Boulevard) to fill a phone book, and it was not uncommon to see the likes of Christopher Lloyd, David Lee Roth, Julian Lennon, Slash, Badfinger members and a couple of Rolling Stones just hanging out having a pint and a game of darts.
Kim may have been the funniest guy I ever met. When a lady patron complained to him about a cockroach crawling across her table, Kim quickly snatched up the offending insect, popped it into his mouth, gulped it down and walked away without saying a word. That’s what he’d call customer service. He prowled the pub like a Harp Lager–wielding tiger, looking for an unsuspecting American yuppie who might enjoy an authentic, rapid-fire, thick-accented British joke, such as: “See my nob — it’s 12 inches, but I don’t use it as a rule.” Or stretching a French tickler around his forehead and letting it slowly course up through his hair until it snapped into a little samurai bun on the top of his head, making him look like a terrifying mutant Pebbles Flintstone. Of course, the joke was always directed at the yuppie’s horrified girlfriend. Exquisite.
Generous to a fault, Kim would often buy a down-on-his-luck fellow countryman dinner and beer or pick up cab fare for someone or slip the doorman 20 bucks just because he felt like it. And, at the end of the night at last call, Kim would ring a loud bell and yell: “TIME, PLEASE — GOT YOUR MONEY, NOW FUCK OFF!”
Last week, my buddy and fellow doorman Spike Baron called to tell me Kim had just died from his bout with cancer. I cried like a 4-year-old.