NAME: David Wildmann
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 5, 1988, p. B12
Huntly Collins, Inquirer Staff Writer
David Wildmann, a promoter who introduced a generation of Philadelphia youths to local performances of punk rock and new-wave bands, died of cancer Thursday at Pennsylvania Hospital. He was 34.
Born in Trenton, Mr. Wildmann came to Philadelphia in 1972 to enroll at Temple University, from which he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1977. But Mr. Wildmann worked only briefly as a nurse before launching a career as a nightclub manager and promoter of avant-garde and rock music. In 1977, he became general manager of the Rainbows Night Club at 1215 Walnut St., which reopened as the Kennel Club in 1983. The club was among the first in Philadelphia to incorporate all aspects of popular culture - video, live music, multimedia events, dancing and even barbecues, which were held on the club's outdoor deck. Under Mr. Wildmann's management, the club also helped raise money for various political causes, ranging from voter registration to gay rights.
An innovator with a passion for sharing new music with young people, Mr. Wildmann promoted shows for youths under age 21 to hear such punk and new-wave bands as Husker Du and X in performances at the Elks Center at 16th and Fitzwater Streets in South Philadelphia. "He was a fan of the music himself," recalled Carol Schutzbank, a local promoter who worked with Mr. Wildmann. 'He wasn't just promoting shows, he was bringing the music he loved to the people who cared most about it." Under Pennsylvania's liquor laws, young people under the age of 21 could not be on the premises of an establishment that sold alcohol. The law had the effect of excluding youths from rock performances at most nightclubs - a problem Mr. Wildmann solved with the shows he promoted at the Elks Center, where alcohol was not served.
When the Kennel Club was sold in 1986, Mr. Wildmann became an independent promoter. That year, he brought Fela, a Nigerian singer who had been jailed in his native country for his political views, to Philadelphia for a packed concert at the Trocadero.
Mr. Wildmann founded Raw Ltd., a Philadelphia promotion-and-management company that featured bands such as Sonic Youth and Exodus and that also managed The Dead Milkmen. In 1986, his record company, Meta Meta Records, released Ruin's album, Fiat Lux, which went on to receive critical acclaim. A disc jockey and video coordinator at Philadelphia's Memphis and Revival nightclubs, Mr. Wildmannalso worked as a reporter for several trade publications including Billboard Magazine and Rockpool.
"You are looking at a man who maybe slept two hours a night," recalled Schutzbank. "But he liked to have a good time. No matter how bad something got, he was always able to take the worst and make it good." Chip Marcoccia, who worked with Mr. Wildmann to create the Kennel Club, described his former colleague as "Mr. Organization" who was "king of legal pads" because of his penchant for keeping lists. But he said Mr. Wildmann also had a flair for the outrageous - from putting blue dye in his hair to opening what he called the Whitney Museum Biennial Video Expedition at the Kennel Club. "He loved entertainment and he loved music," Marcoccia recalled.
Survivors include his parents, Arthur Wildmann and Claire Trojan; a brother, Kurt; and a sister, Lynn Traynor.
A private memorial service was held Friday in Trenton. A public memorial service is to be scheduled in Philadelphia. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Philadelphia Community Health Alternative, P.O. Box 53429, Philadelphia, Pa., 19105.
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Date of Birth: 4/20/1954
Date of Death: 6/2/1988
Age at Death: 34
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