John Elliott, the Denver bar owner who helped turn Streets of London Pub, Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub, Southside Bar & Kitchen and Hidden Idol into havens for a diverse, welcoming artistic scene in Denver, died Wednesday from complications of COVID-19, according to several of his close friends.
Elliott, who had survived a previous bout with COVID-19 this year amid an ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer, was 50 years old. He lived in Buena Vista and died in an intensive care unit at a Colorado hospital, his friends said.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Therese Anstey, his mother, Barbara Elliott, and “a house full of rescue cats and too many friends to calculate,” Anstey wrote in an obituary provided to The Denver Post.
Throughout their 28-year marriage, Elliott and Anstey traveled the world — including stints living in Glasgow, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia. The couple returned to Denver in 2004, she wrote.
Friends remembered Elliott as a forthright, ideal-driven business owner whose passion and energy matched his sense of humor.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe you won the COVID lottery twice,’ ” said Peter Ore, the former Streets of London co-owner who sold Elliott the bar in 2018, recalling a text exchange with Elliott last week. ” ‘I told you not to lick the doorknobs at the Republican headquarters!’ We both laughed about it, because we had that good-natured ribbing sort of relationship. But that was the last thing I ever said to him.”
Elliott may have contracted COVID a second time from a recent social event, friends said, although they can’t be certain.
“Nobody is entirely sure,” said Rob Rushing, founder of the Punk Rock Saves Lives nonprofit. “His case came on almost two weeks after others. … He ran a public business and unfortunately you can get it anywhere.”
Karthick Reddy, his “silent business partner” at Streets, also said he was unsure of how Elliott may have gotten COVID a second time.
“I don’t think he wanted to burden me with his health problems,” said Reddy, who works as an M.D., but had not been in close touch with Elliott in recent weeks.
The purchase of Streets of London made news in 2018 as Elliott sought to unequivocally distance the punk-rock hangout from its reputation as an occasional clubhouse for neo-Nazis and the far-right Proud Boys group. The 22-year-old bar at 1501 E. Colfax Ave. had long been known as a punk-rock music venue and watering hole before gaining that reputation.
Elliott made no mistake about his new approach, friends said.
“We … hate racists, bigots, misogynists or apologists for that kind of (stuff),” Elliott wrote in a Facebook post on Streets’ page. “Period. Bring that (stuff) here — get kicked out and 86ed.”
“Streets is punk rock,” Elliott told Westword in 2018. “It has always been punk rock. Streets is still going to be Streets, a punk dive. It’s just going to be improved in some ways to make it better for everybody, both the people who work there and the people coming.”
Elliott poured money into improvements at the bar and, with the help of Ore (the talent buyer for The Oriental Theater) and others, was able to book nationally touring bands and prominent local acts at Streets, despite its 150-person capacity. It was typical for Elliott, friends said, who went out of his way to treat employees, customers and artists with respect.
“He had tried to keep Streets open since March, but I don’t think it’s because he needed the bar to stay open,” said Kyle Hernandez, a Denver musician and bar manager who worked closely with Elliot at several of his businesses over the years. “It’s because he didn’t want the employees to have to go somewhere else. He wanted them to make a paycheck. Even if you had a disagreement with John, he cared incredibly deeply about you and loved you.”
While Streets of London has been open on and off since March, Elliott had not presented a concert at the venue since the pandemic lockdown first arrived.
“John held this big party at Scruffy Murphy’s after our New Year’s Eve run at the Fillmore a few years back, and it was one of the greatest celebrations that ever happened,” said Nathen Maxwell, Colorado-based bassist for the Celtic punk band Flogging Molly. “It was private, so we were there until 6 in the morning with all these great friends from out of state. John was always a big part of making events like that happen.”
Maxwell, who played his first acoustic show at Streets of London in 2009, said he and some of Elliott’s other friends had thrown a socially distanced, outdoor party for him several months ago when Elliott was feeling well. That was the last time many of them saw him in person.
“What people don’t realize about John is that he ate the ticketing fees for almost every charity show he did,” said Rushing, who also works as tour manager for the Love Hope Strength Foundation. “He was (technically required) to charge the fees, of course, but then he would just pay for them himself. We never asked him to do that.”
“If you needed anything, he would drop everything,” said Hernandez. “We were like brothers.”
Streets of London Pub closed on Thursday out of respect for Elliott, but reopened Friday, Nov. 13, under current pandemic safety mandates.
A GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses was also launched this week at gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-john-elliott.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article