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SF homicide victim remembered as ‘whimsical’ manager of 90s North Beach rock venue

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Tom Guido (Courtesy North Beach Citizens)

Editor’s note: Police on Wednesday reported that the suspect in Tom Guido’s death has since died, making the killing a murder-suicide.

On any given night at the Purple Onion, no one knew whether club manager Tom Guido might kick a band off stage for playing too long or take over the microphone to rant about a clogged toilet in the bathroom.

But his antics were part of the draw to the underground music venue in North Beach, where Guido booked a range of punk and garage rock acts in the 1990s, including some that would later become legendary.

“There’s never going to be anything like the Purple Onion ever again,” said Eric Shea, a local musician who used to play the venue as a member of Mover. “It was anarchy.”

On Wednesday, the Medical Examiner’s Office identified Guido as the victim of an unusual homicide at an apartment building in the Tenderloin. Officers found him suffering from numerous lacerations to his body on Monday after responding to a call about a man who jumped out a window.

Guido, 58, was rushed from inside the building on 908 Post St. to the hospital, where he died. Friends said Guido lived at the apartment where police found him.

The man who jumped from the building remains at the hospital with injuries considered life-threatening, police said Wednesday.

Investigators still have not determined whether he is a suspect in the case.

Those who knew Guido from the Purple Onion remembered him fondly for his “whimsical” personality and knowledge of music.

On occasion, Guido would let Shea stay after hours to drink beer and listen to music on a jukebox filled with “obscure” punk and garage rock 45s.

“He was just very San Francisco,” Shea said.

In the years since the venue closed in the late 1990s, Guido had been in and out of homelessness and struggled with mental illness, according to friends.

Beth Allen, who played the venue as a member of the Loudmouths, said she had lost touch with Guido over the years but would still run into him at concerts or bars.

“I’m always happy to see that he was doing okay,” Allen said. “He was still ‘crazy Tom.’”

Last year, Allen was inspired to chronicle the oral history of the Purple Onion in a blog.

The venue at 140 Columbus Ave. was a historic comedy club that hosted the likes of the Smothers Brothers and Lenny Bruce until 1989.

In 1993, Guido leased the venue and started to book bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre. He ran the club until it shuttered in 1999.

“It was just a really crazy time,” Allen said. “Things always seemed to be hanging on by a thread, but it worked.”

Tina Lucchesi, who played in The Trashwomen, said she was shocked to hear that Guido had been killed.

“We’ve all been mad at him,” Lucchesi said. “But we love him, and he was our friend and we cared about him.”

Tom Guido (Courtesy Beth Allen via bethzombie.com)

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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