Josh Burdette, the renowned club manager at Washington’s 9:30 Club, has died at the age of 35.
News of Burdette’s death surfaced on social media early Monday morning and has since been confirmed by O.A.R., Frank Turner, and Baltimore rock station HFS. The nature of his death remains unclear. Update: According to WJLA, police are investigating a possible suicide.
Anyone who attended a concert at 9:30 Club in the last 15 years undoubtedly encountered Burdette. The 340-pound, six-foot-three mammoth of a man looked like an offensive lineman for the Redskins, only he was covered in tattoos, piercings, and his trademark gauges. Despite his imposing nature, Burdette was incredibly kindhearted, a psychology grad from University of Maryland who told Washingtonian, “I’m very good at seeing a problem before it becomes a problem.”
Burdette expounded on that sentiment in an interview with The Washington Post. “A bouncer is looking to bounce people. It’s a reactive way of doing things. We have a proactive attitude, so that we step into a situation before it becomes a problem. I don’t have any problems with anybody else calling themselves a bouncer, but that’s not the 9:30 club.”
Burdette was especially proactive about maintaining order; “If the show is sold out, it’s sold out. Nothing is going to change that. You can drop every name that you want. If you know my boss well enough, give him a call,” he told The Post.
“I’m not going to lose my job for 20 bucks,” Burdette said in response to a question about being bribed. “The weekend of the Tibetan Freedom Concert [in 1998] we had the Red Hot Chili Peppers one night, then Radiohead the next. That weekend I turned down more in cash — actually shown to me — than what I made that year. And everything gets offered. I had one show where I had a limo of 11 strippers show up. I was told that I could do whatever I wanted with them if I let them into the show… My job is to say no, and I’m really good at it.”
Update: 9:30 Club co-owner Seth Hurwitz said in a statement:
“Josh was one of the wisest people you would ever meet. When you talked to him, you hoped you would be lucky enough to retain some of that wisdom, but you had to make the effort as he never forced it on you. But every word he spoke was from one of the kindest, most thoughtful and well-centered folks you could hope to have in your life.
And then there was the fantastic joke that people that didn’t know him fell for every time. Here was this scary looking dude that was a complete contradiction of his appearance. I think everyone felt a little ashamed and learned from that.
We were all so proud to have him as our ambassador to the world. He was as 9:30 as 9:30 gets.
I’m pretty good at moving on but this one’s gonna be tough. There will be no getting over it, sorry.”
Photo, above, via Sora Devore // The Washington Post