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Jimmy Webb, NYC punk rock style icon, dead at 62

(L-R) Iggy Pop and Jimmy Webb of Trash and Vaudeville attend the launch of Archive 1887 Iggy Pop Collection at Barneys Co-Op on July 28, 2010 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images Archive

American punk icon Jimmy Webb died on Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 62.

The New York City-based businessman was best known as the manager and buyer of Trash and Vaudeville — the iconic, Manhattan-based rock and roll fashion boutique — between 2000 and 2016.

After the world-renowned East Village landmark relocated, Webb launched his own business I Need More in 2016 as a new place to outfit his seemingly endless list of musician friends, which included the Ramones, Iggy Pop and Beyoncé.

A close friend of Webb’s, Heart Montalbano, revealed he had been fighting cancer, Rolling Stone reported on Tuesday.

I Need More issued a statement to Instagram on Wednesday morning confirming Webb’s death.

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“We lost an angel yesterday,” the store wrote. “Jimmy Webb is and will forever be loved by everyone. Jimmy is bringing people together even after his passing. This is what he would’ve wanted.

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“Everyone has their own story and we hope that you can share them with us so that we can, together, mourn his passing… We will always remember Jimmy and celebrate the love he shared with us.”

An outpouring of tributes to Webb began pouring in over social media in wake of the news.

Mourning the loss of the outgoing, personality-filled individual were legendary rock musicians Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Slash and Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, Sebastian Bach and Debbie Harry of Blondie, among other loyal buyers.

Here’s what some rock legends had to say about Jimmy Webb:

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MESSAGE FROM IGGY: “Jimmy was a ragged ray of sunshine in a world that’s getting darker. He became close with my wife Nina and I over the years. Being close with Jimmy involved a deluge of flowers, gifts, voice mails, texts and very long telephone conversations. The flowers tended to be fantastically huge floral arrangements and the gifts invariably wrapped in pink leopard skin, spritzed with glitter and little gold stars like the kind you get in kindergarten for being a very good boy. Both in texting and long hand, Jimmy never used the cursive or any smaller case letters, everything was in full speed caps with unending exclamation points. I first heard of Jimmy from a couple of frightened co- workers at Trash and Vaudeville, the New York rock boutique he managed for years. They told me I had a stalker but Jimmy wasn’t that bad, just a relentlessly enthusiastic fan who enjoyed your fame and oddity so much he wants to be you, and why not?⁣ ⁣This is the kind of guy who you don’t think you would miss until you do and then you miss him a lot, kind of Proust in street wear, showing his asscrack. For some years now, Jimmy lived alone in a basement apartment in Murray Hill and dedicated his life to his store ‘I Need More’, and to the people he collected through that theatre and a theatre it was, and he was it’s star, gossiping, laughing, cackling but always encouraging and spotlighting what he thought was beautiful about the people and world around him. It was his dream to have a store-as-theater like this, in the tradition of let it rock, manic panic and Trash and Vaudeville, also to be somebody and he really was so, he got where he needed to go. I knew he had been battling an illness for a long time and he showed incredible stamina and pluck in the fight.⁣ ⁣This is someone whose grave will be visited with flowers, cigarettes and love.⁣ ⁣Iggy”⁣ ⁣Photo by @carltimpone/BPA

A post shared by Iggy Pop Official (@iggypopofficial) on

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“The death of Jimmy Webb will be breaking many hearts today,” tweeted legendary rock photographer Mick Rock.

“He was a beautiful man of rare soul and grace with a huge heart. Unforgettable character. Sweet temperament. We will all remember.”

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For decades, Trash and Vaudeville was notorious for carrying myriad tight trousers.

“It’s not rock and roll if your pants don’t hurt,” Webb told the New Yorker in 2007.

Trash and Vaudeville opened in 1975 on 96 East 7th Street in the Manhattan District, and it wasn’t until 24 years later that Webb joined the team as a sales rep and worked his way up to the managing role.

The charismatic stylist described Trash and Vaudeville as the “true mom-and-pop, the bodega of rock ’n’ roll clothing,” during an interview with the New York Times in 2013.

Jimmy Webb of Trash and Vaudeville during Bob Gruen Print Sale Benefiting the Joey Ramone Foundation at Morrison Hotel Gallery Loft in New York City. Hikari Yokoyama/WireImage

The store spanned two floors of New York City’s historic Hamilton-Holly House on St. Mark’s Place for four decades. While it was one business, the main floor was dedicated to “vaudeville” attire, whereas the basement focused on the “trash” style of rock ‘n’ roll.

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“It’s here because of truth and spirit,” he added. “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.”

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Webb was raised in the small town of Wynantskill, N.Y. After graduating high school in only three years and enrolling in a Connecticut-based community college, Webb grew tired of his routine lifestyle and made the abrupt decision to hitchhike down to Florida, according to the New Yorker.

It was there where he met a couple of vacationing New Yorkers — who he quickly befriended — and moved back to the Big Apple in the ’70s. It was then that Webb got a job “delivering cocktails in a gay bar.”

He credited that job for kicking off his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, to “dance and live,” adding that it inspired him to run “off into the streets by [himself] with all the other runaway boys. No fear.”

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Webb was homeless for a while as he struggled with addiction. He later overcame those problems and made the name that he is known for now in the fashion industry after joining Trash and Vaudeville.

Webb is remembered by many as an energetic, positive man, a “warm soul,” “a ragged ray of sunshine” and the “heart and soul of New York City rock n’ roll fashion.”

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

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