You are here: / Jazz Players & Historic Jazz Clubs / Media / Onyx Club (New York City)

Onyx Club (New York City)

John Kirby And His Onyx Club Boys 1938

Recorded: New York City, NY 1938, Personnel: Charlie Shavers – Trumpet, Russell Procope – Alto Sax, Buster Bailey – Clarinet, Billy Kyle – Piano, John Kirby – Bass and O’Neil Spencer – Drums.

Stuff+Smith+And+His+Onyx+Club+Boys+StuffSmithpngThe Onyx Club was a jazz club located on West 52nd Street in New York City.


35 West 52nd Street (1927–1934)

The Onyx Club opened in 1927 at 35 West 52nd Street as a speakeasy by bootlegger Joe Helbock (né Joseph Jerome Helbock; 1896–1973).

72 West 52nd Street (1934–1937)

In February of 1934, after the end of prohibition, the Onyx Club became an authorized club in a new location — 72West 52nd Street. The Onyx featured musicians that included the Spirits of Rhythm and Art Tatum, who then was the regular intermission pianist. It burned down in 1935. Helbock rebuilt it and reopened it July 13, 1935, and reopened with Red McKenzieStuff SmithJonah JonesJohn KirbyMaxine Sullivan, and others.

Onyx Soda Water62 West 52nd Street (1937–1939)

It moved to 62 West 52nd Street and closed in 1939, due partly to a fallout with a silent partner, guitarist Carl Kress.

57 West 52nd Street (1942–1949)

In 1942, a new Onyx Club, unrelated to the original, opened at 57 West 52nd Street and flourished as a jazz venue featuring Art TatumRed AllenCozy ColeRoy EldridgeBen WebsterBilly HolidayCharlie ParkerDizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan. The owners included Irving Alexander (1908–1987), Jack A. Colt (1905–1970), Mac Rosen, Arthur Jarwood (1907–1998), and Chauncey Samuel Olman (1908–1965). The group, at varying degrees, was involved in the ownership of Kelly’s Stable, Downbeat, Three Deuces, and the Door.  Olman, an attorney for musicians and composers, was the brother of band leader Val Olman (1913–2006). The venue, under the same name, became a strip club in 1949.

PureHistory ℗ is your source to learn about the broad and beautiful spectrum of our shared History.