Novel On the Road Jack Kerouac (1957)
Named after Charlie Parker, the legendary jazz saxophonist, who was nicknamed Bird, this mythical jazz club has had two lives. And it is during his first, that Jack Kerouac often frequented him, even going so far as to pay homage to him in his novel On the Road, the ultimate manifesto of the beat generation...
Birdland New York
Birdland New York - Photo credit: Fantrippers

Dean and I went to see Shearing at Birdland in the midst of the long, mad weekend. The place was deserted, we were the first customers, ten o’clock.

Jack Kerouac

Written in just three weeks, on a 36.5-metre-long roll of paper, On the Road begins as a huge paving stone, with no chapters or line breaks. The result of frenetic writing sessions, it requires considerable work on the part of its author, Jack Kerouac, before it is worthy of publication, according to the standards of the publishing houses of the time.

More than just a novel, On the Road is inspired by the writer’s tribulations through America in the late 1940s. The story is largely autobiographical, and features Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s alter ego, and Dan Moriarty, Neal Cassady’s fellow traveller, himself a well-known poet. We also meet William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg as well as a whole gallery of protagonists inspired by Kerouac’s relatives or acquaintances. All this with a background of wild and feverish jazz.

This spiritual father of the beat generation enjoyed his music at Birland, one of the most emblematic clubs in New York, if not the United States. When he visits, it is still in its original location at 1678 Broadway Avenue. It was there that he attended a George Shearing concert with Neal Cassady. A great moment at the end of which Cassady pointed to Shering’s stool and exclaimed, “this is God’s empty chair.” At Birdland, Jack Kerouac, then unknown, was among the crowd exhilarated by the compositions of the biggest names and promising upstarts.

On the Road has thus contributed greatly, almost on a par with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk or Miles Davis, to building the reputation of the place. Especially with the generation for whom the book was originally intended. The same one to which Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits belonged, whose respective works have always been marked by Kerouac’s words and philosophy, imbued with the same freedom found in the jazz of the Golden Age.

Now located near Times Square, Birdland has retained the original spirit of the place whose walls once witnessed the comings and goings of Jack Kerouac. The magic is pervasive when you enter this temple and sit in front of the stage like the author of On the Road in his time…


The original typescript of On the Road was purchased at auction in May 2001 for $2.5 million by Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team.

Sur la route
Sur la route. Tous droits réservés : Folio

1678 Broadway

A reference jazz club, Birdland opened its doors in 1949 at 1678 Broadway, propelled by the ambition of Irving and Morris Levy, the two brothers who founded the Roulette Records label…

Named after Charlie Parker, the Birdland welcomed the master in 1950, but also several stars of the discipline such as Count Basie, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespied, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Thelonieux Monk, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Sammy David Jr. or Chet Baker. Many stars took advantage of their performance at Birdland to release a live album. Unfortunately, in 1965, the club at 1678 Broadway had to close its doors due to high rent. It was only 21 years later, in 1986, that it was reborn, at 315 W 44th Street, one block west of Times Square. The big names in music quickly appropriated these new premises in order to continue to write a legend still alive.

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Fanspots Stories New York

Fanspots Stories New York

Discover the secrets of the cult places of the greatest masterpieces of pop culture in New York!

The world capital of pop culture, New York embodies unbridled creative freedom. The city that never sleeps has been the muse of a large number of directors, actors, screenwriters, singers, musicians, cartoonists and writers…

Many have passed on their fascination for the city to the general public and made some of its places famous worldwide, making them into the legend of pop culture. These are the secrets of a hundred of them revealed in this first volume of the Fanspots Stories collection.

Did you know that?
Did you know that the filming of Rage Against The Machine’s Music Now in the Fire caused Wall Street to shut down for the first time since 1929?

Fanspots Stories New York is also
Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Superman, Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin…

Directed by a team of pop culture specialists and embellished with many anecdotes, Fanspots Stories New York tells more than just a story: these are some of the most fascinating stories in pop culture.

Fanspot Stories New York
100 pop cults
a unique and new concept
224 pages of fun
a beautiful large-format book 24 x 30, round back slicefil

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By Gilles Rolland

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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