News and Notes: When Dave Herman Was My Neighbor

WNEWFM 10 Anniversary

With the death of Dave Herman yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to post something I wrote back in January, 2002 about the time that Dave Herman was my neighbor:

In 1976, I lived on West 71st Street, between West End Avenue and the railroad yards (or between West End and Dead End as I called it) until the middle of September. It was an interesting block, as Ashford and Simpson lived there as did one of the acting and barkeeping O’Neal brothers (the older one, I now forget his name). Never saw any of them, but every once and a while I did get to see Ashford & Simpson’s Rolls Royce parked on the block. There was also a Single Room Occupancy hotel on the block — one of the best of that ilk, if you can believe that there could even be a good one.

I lived toward the far end of the block and on my way to my apartment there were several brownstones. One had a real tall picture window on the ground floor and whoever lived there always treated that window like a display window in an upscale department store. Whatever was there was changed from time to time and my girlfriend and I called the place “Bloomingdale’s Window.” One day, Bloomingdale’s Window just wasn’t the same. New furniture was now there and it was nice, but no longer elegant bordering on gorgeous. It was obvious that Mr. or Ms. Bloomingdale had moved and someone else now lived there.

A few weeks after that move, I was walking by the former Bloomingdale’s Window when I noticed a whole bunch of record boxes put out on top of the trash. Curious at who might be getting large numbers of records at home, I looked at the label on the top box. It said Dave Herman.

Like Ashford & Simpson and Mr. O’Neal, I never saw Dave even once on 71st Street. I did see his girlfriend in the window once or twice, but that was it. I moved off West 71st Street in mid- September that year, and eventually Dave moved off the block as well.

I hadn’t thought much about that since then, until yesterday, when I was reading Richard Neer’s book, FM. There are a few stories in the book about Dave’s friendship with George Harrison. Once involved George suddenly having to come to New York City in the summer of 1976, when the Democratic Convention was here. There were no hotel rooms to be found and George Harrison ended up staying in Dave’s basement for the night.

So, once again, I missed a brush with greatness, just a few doors down from me.

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