Fifty percent of the people in the bar knew what was going on... When a call would come in and Red would start haranguing the caller, everybody used to fall off their stools laughing.
Purchase Tube Bar CD from Detonator Records
Tube Bar Recordings on the web at Repmart.
Tube bar mix of I Saw Red by Warrent featuring you-know-who. By Rob Lunceford.
Mortal Combat Tube Bar Mix (395kb). Requires RealPlayer.
Secret Garden (Tube Bar Mix), an MP3 by Phil Malkowski
© Mike Walsh
The Legend of the Tube Bar
Part 2: How the Recording Got Around
by Mike Walsh
The origin of the Tube Bar tape is shrouded in rumor and mystery. Almost everyone I spoke with had different theories about who made the prank phone calls, why they did it, and why they have never come forward to acknowledge their amazing creation. But after talking with a few old-timers at the Tube Bar, a much more logical and credible explanation emerged.
Most of the old-timers said that the entire escapade, made over a period of several months sometime in the mid 70s, was an inside job. The prank calls were made by Tube Bar regulars and quite a few of them were, allegedly, Jersey City police officers, which might explain why the callers never acknowledged making the recording. Recording another persons phone conversation without their consent is a federal offense.
Fifty percent of the people in the bar knew what was going on, says one longtime Tube Bar regular. When a call would come in and Red would start haranguing the caller, everybody used to fall off their stools laughing. Although no one at the Tube Bar would name the callers, I was told that most of them have since moved out of the area.
The phone pranksters made the calls and then gave copies of the recordings to their friends. Their friends heard it, laughed hysterically, and made copies for their friends, a process that has been repeated with the recording many times since.
Some time in the early 80s, a copy ended up in the hands of an equipment manager for the New York Mets. The equipment manager played the recording for many of the Mets players. The players liked The Tube Bar recording so much that duplicate copies quickly spread through the major leagues.
The Tube Bar was such a hit with the Los Angeles Dodgers that the team had Tube Bar tee-shirts printed up for the players. Steve Sax, who was then playing for the Dodgers, worked up a lip-synch routine for passages of Reds most entertaining dialogue. Sax distributed numerous copies to his entertainment industry friends in Los Angeles as well.
The recording continued to spread in the mid 80s. The Miami Dolphins football team supposedly played The Tube Bar at a couple of their practices. It was was rumored to be a big hit with the bands Britiny Fox and Slayer, with comedian Andrew Dice Clay, 60 Minutes reporter Harry Reasoner, and at the FBI office in Miami.
The Mets equipment manager also gave it to an employee at Fynal Vinyl, a record store in Greenwich Village, who now claims responsibility for the recordings wisespread popularity within the alternative music scene in New York and elsewhere.
I tracked the lineage of my copy, which I received from a friend in Colorado a couple years ago. He got it from a friend in San Francisco, who got it from a friend in Los Angeles, who got it from Brooklyn native Ashley Warren. Warren, who works for Caroline Records, received a copy from an employee at CBGBs named Curtis Gates in early 88.
Gates got his copy from a country and western guitar player, who got his copy from his brother, who at the time was working at the Bottom Line, a club in New York, who got his copy from a guitar player named Jimmy Vivino. (Vivino is one of the Max Weinberg Seven on the Conan O'Brien show. He is also the brother of Floyd Vivino, who created another stellar icon of New Jersey pop culture, The Uncle Floyd Show.)
In the finest Tube Bar tradition, Warren played this pedal-to-the-metal insult-fest for friends and distributed duplicates. One band recording for Caroline at the time was Unrest from Washington, DC. Unrest is fronted by Mark Robinson, who also owns a small record label called Teen Beat. Within a few months of receiving the tape from Warren, Robinson made The Tube Bar recording commercially available on Teen Beat, first as a cassette, then as a LP, and then as a CD. He has since sold several thousand copies.
Although he doesnt have the copyright to The Tube Bar, Robinson has no legal problems selling it commercially, nor does he have to pay royalties. Since Red is dead and the original creators of the tape hadn't surfaced by the early '90s, Robinson is free to do what he pleases with the recording. For all intents and purposes, The Tube Bar recording is in the public domain. Therefore, anyone could start a record label, print copies of The Tube Bar, and sell them. Another small label has done just that, releasing the recording under the name The Red Tapes on a 7-inch record, a recording that Robinson oddly refers to as a bootleg.
(Note: Since this article was published, the Tube Bar pranksters, who call themselves the Bum Bar Bastards, surfaced and tape was sold commercially through Detonator records. Teen Beat stopped selling the recording. The Bum Bar Bastards also sell a tape of the recording.)
Evidently, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, heard The Tube Bar recording. The phone pranks on The Tube Bar are almost identical to a running joke on The Simpsons involving Bart and the gravel-voiced Moe, proprietor of Homers beer-drinking hangout. Robinson calls this coincidence a total ripoff. (Although Groening was contacted through his publicist, he did not comment on this matter.)
A number of other references to The Tube Bar have turned up elsewhere. Suicidal Tendencies, who also once recorded for Caroline, thank Red and the Tube Bar in the acknowledgements on their most recent record. Many albums have been released with samples of Reds growl in the mix. Raw magazine once published a cartoon by Drew Friedman and Mark Newgarden that featured the Tube Bar, and an underground New York band, The Rat Bastards, named themselves after Reds favorite term of endearment.
So many people have distributed copies of this audio chainletter that it is impossible to estimate how many people have heard the tape. However, since the tape started circulating, people from all over the country have been stopping by the Tube Bar asking about Red and having their pictures taken under the sign out front.
The Tube Bar has become, as Ashley Warren says, an underground phenomenon.