SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man who was fatally stabbed in downtown San Francisco on Monday evening has been identified by the city’s medical examiner’s office as 58-year-old Thomas Guido.

The stabbing was reported at about 5:45 p.m. Monday in the 900 block of Post Street. Guido, a San Francisco resident, had suffered lacerations to his head and neck and was pronounced dead, police said.

Police said the suspect was a 42-year-old man who has not been arrested. No new information on the case was being released by police as of Wednesday.

Guido was mourned on Wednesday in social media posts by people who remembered him as a beloved local character and the onetime manager of the long-closed Purple Onion nightclub in the city’s North Beach neighborhood.

It was during the early 1990s that Guido reopened the club. It had an established reputation as popular cabaret and comedy venue during the ’50s and ’60s when it hosted such big names as Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Bob Newhart, the Smothers Brothers and Barbra Streisand (who opened for comic Phyllis Diller).

Under Guido’s management, the subterranean club became an epicenter for a revival of raw, unbridled garage punk and surf rock. Such notable local bands as the Mummies, the Rip Offs and the Phantom Surfers performed there, as did visiting Japanese punk acts like the 5.6.7.8’s, Teengenerate and Guitar Wolf.

While the club became an institution of the San Francisco underground during the decade, Guido as pulled off the occasional booking coup, like having Portland, OR-based psych band the Dandy Warhols play there at the height of their late ’90s fame and presenting a rare West Coast performance by original Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker.

Former manager of the Purple Onion Tom Guido (BethZombie.com)

More than just an organizer or even a regular MC at Purple Onion shows, Guido became notorious for commandeering the microphone between (and frequently during) bands, launching into drunken, sometimes incoherent, often hilarious rants. The cantankerous club operator regularly demanded patrons leave the venue from the stage as audience members tried to shout him down.

“Tom was so…unhinged,” remembered Beth Allen, a former Bay Area resident now living in Southern California. Allen and her punk band the Loudmouths performed numerous times at the club, but she was a regular at the Purple Onion well before taking the stage there.

“I literally spent at least six years of my weekend nights at the Purple Onion!” she recalled.

SF scene veteran, musician and writer Eric Shea also played at the venue with his then current band Mover. He remembered how there was a certain leveling of the playing field at the Purple Onion.

“He once said, ‘Hey Eric from Mover, meet Roy from the Phantom Movers!’ I looked to my right and saw Roy Loney standing right in front of me,” Shea recalled. “I guess that was part of the magic of The Purple Onion. Rock legends could hang out with nobodies like me and just drink beer and dig music together.”

Like most who attended shows at the Onion, Shea has stories of Guido’s infamous onstage shenanigans.

“Once we were watching Dura Delinquent play and Tom stopped the show mid-song. He ran up on stage, grabbed a mic and pointed at a guy in the crowd, yelling, ‘That guy’s a narc!'” Shea remembered.

As it turned out, Guido’s target was someone Shea knew.

“It was my roommate Billy Bliss (a kind of preppy dressed guy),” Shea continued. “Billy rushed the stage and tackled Tom by his legs and then darted out the door. Tom grabbed the mic and yelled, ‘He’s worse than a narc! He’s a jock!'”

While Guido’s antics were always memorable, as time went on, his outbursts became more disconcerting.

“For many years it was wildly entertaining and funny. But it lost it’s charm near the end of his running the club,” said Allen. “The last time I remember stopping laughing and starting to worry was when he literally ripped a camera off a guy’s neck because he didn’t want his picture taken.”

In an online tribute to Guido and the Purple Onion era Allen put together, she and other friends who frequented the club talk about seeing the club owner at various concerts in recent years, including some garage-rock festivals held in San Francisco that can trace their roots back to the scene he helped cultivate during the ’90s.

The nonprofit North Beach Citizens wrote a post mourning Guido’s passing with a photo.

Shea commented on the post, “Here’s to broken mic stands, tinsel stage garnish, striped shirts, crushed cans of beer, scuffed Beatle boots, cheap gear, jukebox malfunctions, and raw unbridled garage rock. Thanks for everything.”

Comments (2)
  1. Thanx for the lovingly prepared story, the comments from Beth & Eric truly capture some of the essence of the guy who was a one of a kind, manic and eccentric San Franciscan character…a special breed which are few and far between these days. Sad to know he is now just another lost fragment amidst the 21st century entropy engulfing our beloved city.

  2. Rupert Lucian Isidro Garcia says:

    I got to hang out with Guido at least one night a week, back in the early 90s, as he ran the DJ booth at Zeitgeist and I walked behind the plank. He could be extremely difficult at times, obstinate and exasperating, but he knew I was a total nutcase as well, so he never got too out of hand. Besides, I was in charge and I had a 38 in a drawer under the cash register. Guido was a one-in-a-million guy – that’s for sure – and I will never forget him!
    Rest in peace, good buddy.
    Sal

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s