Legendary impresario Steve May made his 688 Club the epicenter of Atlanta’s punk and New Wave scene in the 1980s, introducing local audiences to the Ramones, Iggy Pop and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The party ended for the 688 in 1986; for Steve May the good times began to go bad a little later.
Health problems and family responsibilities left him the lurch. This month he came close homelessness, until a friend mobilized May’s many fans.
They contributed to a GoFundMe site, they raised more than $2,000, and disaster was averted, at least for another few months. “We passed our goal,” said May.
What happened to May was a combination of things. After the 688 he worked in computers, pecan growing, and sound engineering, but quit working in 2011 to help take care of his mother, who had broken her hip at her Claxton home. He moved to the south Georgia town to be there full-time until his mother’s death in 2012.
After that he was hampered by glaucoma, diabetes and five back surgeries. “I’m not driving except in daytime,” said May, 63. “Some days my legs don’t work. It limits me on what I can do.”
Things came to a head this month when his landlord didn’t renew his lease in Alpharetta. He had applied months ago for rent-subsidized senior housing — which was all that he could afford on his $1,100-a-month social security income — but he was still on a waiting list, with no prospects in view.
That’s when May began calling friends, to see if there was couch space he could borrow. “I thought I was going to be out on the street,” he said.
He phoned social media maven Grayson Daughters, who had handled publicity for the 688 back in 1982, and Daughters went into gear.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, unbeknownst to May, she created a GoFundMe page to provide a temporary solution. Her goal was to raise $1,750, the equivalent of first and last month’s rent at a new place, plus a security deposit.
Many 688 fans jumped on the opportunity to help, and exceeded the goal in less than a day. A donor named “Patti O.” put $50 in the hat, and wrote: “I owe you at least this much for all the times I snuck in, underage.”
May marveled Thursday afternoon, when the total topped $2,339. “I can’t believe it.”
The club man plans on staying at a friend’s house for the next two weeks, then using the GoFundMe money to secure an apartment while he waits for subsidized housing to open up.
His money-making prospects are limited. His parents’ heavily-mortgaged house was “underwater” after their death, and the market for 688 memorabilia is soft.
But he looks forward to doing sound system consults for churches, many of which have sophisticated systems.
“I was embarrassed to be in this situation I got myself into,” he said Thursday, “but I’m overwhelmed at the generosity of everybody.”
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