Nudie’s Honky Tonk: Tribute to Nuta Kotlyarenko aka Nudie Cohn

Nudie's Honky Tonk

Nudie’s suits bring to mind Porter Waggoner, Roy Rogers, Dolly Parton, and even Robert Redford as “The Electric Horseman.”  They were only some of the country western singers and stars who wore Nudie Cohn’s rhinestone covered, embroidered suits.  Creeping down Broadway in the heavy evening traffic, music–albeit seriously out of tune–poured out of the open door of the recently-opened Nudie’s Honky Tonk.  The former Lawrence Record Shop was purchased for $5.5 million, and millions more were spent renovating, remodeling, and purchasing Nudie memorabilia to decorate–creating a museum that serves food and drink, serves up live music, and gives tourists a look into the development of both Nudie and the country music scene in Nashville and Hollywood (The Nashville Tennessean, March 11, 2016).

Born Nuta Kotlyarenko in Kiev, Ukraine in 1902, he was sent to the US at the age of 11 with his older brother in order to escape persecution and discrimination as the Russian Civil War loomed.  Ukraine was home to a large Jewish population at the time.  He met his future wife “Bobbie” in Minnesota and they married in 1934.  They made ‘custom undergarments’ for showgirls in New York City, later beginning the customized country western garments which would lead to Nudie’s Hollywood store and fame.  The first logo was a nude cowgirl wearing only boots, hat,  single gun in holster, and gloves while whirling a lasso.  The logo was sewn into the label.  In later years, she was clothed in a short skirt and vest.  Nudie died in 1984, and his wife Bobbie in 2006.

The building housing Nudie’s Honky Tonk was home to Lawrence Record shop in the 1950s.  Tax records indicate the building was constructed 1920, and newspaper articles identify it as the home of Phillips & Quarels Hardware Store from 1928 until it was transferred to Jack and Ida Lawrence in 1965, who operated the Lawrence Record Shop.  Mrs. Lawrence died and her executrix of the estate transferred the property to JBW Holdings for $1.00 January 29, 2016.

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