New and Notable: The Dirt Club


Former Star-Ledger reporter Guy Sterling recently dropped by to donate his collection on Bloomfield’s legendary Dirt Club and share memories of his late friend, colorful owner John “Johnny Dirt” Schroeder. From 1979 to 1991 The Dirt Club hosted a plethora of local and nationally known punk, hardcore, power pop and experimental bands, held events like the Slime Festival on the Passaic, and sponsored compilation albums that included bands that played at the Dirt Club. Among the many New Jersey bands who played the club are The Smithereens, Adrenalin O.D., and Dramarama. National acts who performed there include The Fall, the Modern Lovers, and Wall of Voodoo.     

Guy donated vinyl comps, live recordings on cassette, posters, photos, a scrapbook and more. Among the most unique items in the collection are the club’s famous “dirt bags,” literal bags of dirt that could be purchased at the bar.

We’re thrilled to make a home for the Guy Sterling Collection on the Dirt Club, which complements the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive and the many books, periodicals, and zines we have on music and venues in New Jersey in the Sinclair New Jersey Collection. The collection is currently being processed and in due time will be available to peruse in our reading room.


McCall, Tris. “Remembering Johnny Dirt, the down-to-earth king of the Jersey pop underground.” Inside Jersey, September 23, 2011.

2 thoughts to “New and Notable: The Dirt Club”

  1. I was lucky enough to play at the Dirt Club with my band The Crazies in 1980-81. We opened for The Smithereens and took part in many of the Dirt Club Parties and Events – most memorable to me was the Christmas-Thon Party
    12/28/1980 – about 20 bands played throughout the entire day on that infamous stage with the evermore infamous “pole”. Loved the band party in the basement! Thanks for some of the best memories of my college years at Rutgers/Newark. Wish the Dirt Club collection found its home here in Newark, but glad it has found a permanent home at Rutgers – Thank you, Guy Sterling.
    Mark Papianni, Rutgers- Newark Class of 1985
    ( – and yes, I still have my ‘Dirt Bag”.)

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