Don Hill, owner of rock outpost in Hudson Square
By Lincoln Anderson
Don Hill, whose eponymously named club in Hudson Square was a bastion of rock ’n’ roll in a gentrifying Downtown scene, died last Thursday at age 66. According to Martin Sheridan, owner of the nearby Ear Inn bar, Hill suddenly collapsed. He reportedly died either at an East Side hospital or on his way to it.
An autopsy was performed but there isn’t a cause of death determined yet.
“It was something internal,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan, who has owned the Ear Inn since 1979, said Hill opened Don Hill’s, at the corner of Spring and Greenwich Sts., in 1993. Before that, Keith McNally had operated a high-end restaurant, Canal Bar, at the location, and before that it had been a Munson’s Diner, one of a chain that dotted the city in the 1940’s and ’50’s.
Describing Hill, Sheridan called him “just a very gentle soul. Loved rock and roll. Never got angry. Treated everyone the same — whether you were good or bad [as a band]. His love was live bands.” The club featured everything from Latin death metal to groups like the Toilet Boys.
Hill lived on the Upper East Side. He was born Donald Mulvihill in New Jersey. Before Don Hill’s, he worked at two other famed Village music clubs, Kenny’s Castaways and The Bitter End, then went on to open the Cat Club, at Fourth Ave. and 13th St. At the Cat Club, he helped launch the careers of major glam-metal bands like Poison and LA Guns.
Last year, two upscale nightlife impresarios, Paul Sevigny and Nur Khan, joined Hill as partners in his club. It was remodeled, but there was still live music, albeit now with chic parties afterward.
Hill always provided more-than-adequate security for his club, and made sure that things stayed under control.
“He didn’t ignore things, like some people do,” Sheridan noted.
According to Sheridan, Hill is survived by a sister and brother-in-law and a brother, all of New Jersey. A funeral was held Wednesday evening at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry St. “Everyone’s going to be there,” Sheridan said beforehand.