The first impression that both artists and fans get as they enter a venue usually comes from an interaction with member of the venue's security team. Few had a greater impact than Josh Burdette, the head of security at Washington's 9:30 Club, who died unexpectedly at home on September 1st with police investigating his death as a possible suicide. He was 36.
Standing 6-foot-4, weighing in at 340 lbs, tattooed with dragons, and equipped with numerous piercings, Burdette was an imposing figure and a well well-known fixture at the club for the past 15 years. Often referred to as by the nickname "That Guy," Burdette rejected the title of bouncer.
“First off, I hate the word ‘bouncer,’?” Burdette told the Washington Post. “I’m not a bouncer. And once I’ve established that with somebody, I take it personally if they call me a bouncer. I do security.”
A native of Kensington, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C., Burdette graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in psychology in the honors program. While there, he worked with Student Entertainment Presents, the school's Student Programming Board and often earned extra cash by working as security at fraternity parties.
Though physically imposing, Burdette was known to be a gentleman in every sense of the word relying more often on diplomacy and intuition rather than brute force to resolve situations, once telling the Washingtonian “I’m very good at seeing a problem before it becomes a problem.”
He was also adroit at navigating the potentially volatile political environment of Washington's nightlife, but was unwilling to accept any of illicit inducements that certainly were available to him. “If the show is sold out, it’s sold out. Nothing is going to change that. You can drop every name that you want. If you know my boss well enough, give him a call,” Burdette once told the Washington Post in an interview.
In a statement regarding Burdette's passing, 9:30 club co-owner Seth Hurwitz wrote:
“Josh was one of the wisest people you would ever meet. When you talked to him, you hoped you would be lucky enough to retain some of that wisdom, but you had to make the effort as he never forced it on you. But every word he spoke was from one of the kindest, most thoughtful and well-centered folks you could hope to have in your life.
And then there was the fantastic joke that people that didn’t know him fell for every time. Here was this scary looking dude that was a complete contradiction of his appearance. I think everyone felt a little ashamed and learned from that.
We were all so proud to have him as our ambassador to the world. He was as 9:30 as 9:30 gets.
I’m pretty good at moving on but this one’s gonna be tough. There will be no getting over it, sorry.”
via Celebrity Access