Radley, the Empty Bottle house cat
Seventeen years ago, a black kitten with the word “mice” inked in his ear was abandoned at the Empty Bottle; there he remained, nipping sips from shots at the bar or curling up for a nap in a drum kit. A stray who belonged to no one, Radley’s death touched everyone to ever play a set in his house. “I got drunk many-a-time with that cat,” recalls patron Jonathan Jarrow. Michael Castelle writes, “I never got to apologize for that time I tried to bring him into the photo booth.” On August 25, when Radley passed away due to liver failure, Bottle proprietor Bruce Finkelman delivered the sad news: “Radley finally succumbed to the ills of the hard rockin’ lifestyle he lived.” Local media all ran stories eulogizing the passing of Radley, a cat who oversaw two decades of independent music and whose cremated ashes are forever enshrined in an urn behind the bar.
Best of Chicago 2009