Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Clubbin' In Chicago ... In The Late '60's and Early '70's

Helping Out Our Readers: 
With all the other stuff going on here lately, it took us a little while to get back to this topic … 
But we haven’t forgotten! 

>>>I was wondering if your memory is good when it comes to rock clubs around the Chicago back in the era.  The other day my cousin was having a conversation with someone about the Cellar and the other "teen" clubs in and around Chicago in the '60s and '70s …but was having trouble remembering most of the names, other than the New Place and Blue something or other.  I know Dex Card owned a bunch of Wild Goose clubs … but do you know of any list of clubs from back then? There was one in Wisconsin that was on an old chicken farm and had a tree growing through the stage. The Shames played there with the Who but again, I can't remember the name (old man memory and all that).  Since I grew up in the city, I didn't become as familiar with as many of the suburban clubs as someone like you might have.  If you can fill in some of the blanks he's drawing, please let me know.  Thanks!  (Bill Fortune)  
>>>I was too young for the clubbing scene back then ... but I think one of the clubs you’re thinking of was The Blue Village.  By the time I was old enough to go, we were hanging out at places like The Thirsty Whale, The Nickel Bag, Haymakers and Beginnings.  Another popular spot downtown was Rush Up … I remember seeing The Ides / Shames Union there a couple of times.  I'll betcha between all of the artists on our list and the readers, we can come up with one heck of a list.  What say you, folks???  (kk)  

The Majestic Hills Music Theater, Lake Geneva, WI. This place was huge in the 60s and there is virtually nothing about it on the internet. We were up there almost every weekend and saw major acts from the Cryan’ Shames all the way up to The Who. It was a major, and I mean major, venue in the mid to late 60s. It featured the best local, regional and national acts on a weekly basis in the summer.
It was an outdoor venue, covered by a roof, no heat. I have scoured the internet for information on this place and for all practical purposes there was nothing available until I found this little local newspaper published in the Lake Geneva area. This young reporter did a pretty good job of piecing the story together and he had to work hard to do it.
The music venue was also part of a man-made ski hill, similar to Alpine Valley. The lodge at the ski hill burned down and the reporter thinks that all of the records from the operation of the music theater, if any, were lost in this fire. I had no choice but to send the entire publication in this email as my regular computer is in the shop. Hopefully you can separate the story from this file. It starts on the first page and continues further on in the publication.
I think the venue in Algonquin was called the Nu Place, not the New Place.
The venue in Rockford for the larger acts was called The Ice Chalet. It was a skating rink in the winter and was only open in the summer. In 1966 it hosted The Shames, The Flock, The Six, The Robbs and The Shadows and other groups. As the ice had melted by then it had a saw dust floor. After about an hour you could hardly see or breathe. I would assume most of the groups would remember this environment. Jerry McGeorge of The Shadows, and formerly of The Blackstones, mentions this in an interview. He did not like the arrangements at this venue.     
Robert Campbell

Another one just popped into my mind, too … what was it called??? The Grape Gorilla?  Or The Green Gorilla?  Or The Purple Gorilla? Something like that!  (kk)  

Here are some other memories shared by our readers …

I grew up in the city, too, and didn’t drive till I was a little older and could afford my own (used) car. We took the bus and the el everywhere, and I was a little too young to hit the suburban clubs anyway.
I did catch the Shames once or twice at the Blue Village, and once at the Jaguar in St. Charles (I think!).
Otherwise, I think I went to the Thirsty Whale once, but that was about it.
Went to the Kinetic Playground / Electric Theater and the Aragon quite often, ‘tho, as I could bus it there.
As far as high school dances go, I went to a small Catholic coed school (St. Gregory’s in Edgewater) and our most popular band was 4 Days & A Night with Al Lathan! Great band. And on Rush Street, The Store and Mother’s were our favorites.
Marlene O’Malley  
Mother's was THE place to be downtown ... the crowds regularly spilled out into the street ... and they seemed to book the biggest names.
I was always partial to Rush Up ... just such a weird layout to this place ... with everything way up on the third level.  (I couldn't even IMAGINE lugging a B-3 up that narrow staircase to reach the stage ... something Rick Barr talks about below!)  kk

From Guy Arnston (he of The Illinois Entertainer back in the day) …

See if any of these ring a bell!

5 Stages - Logan Square, Chicago
6900 Club - Lincolnwood
The Bank - Palatine
Bat Cave on Oliphant off NW Hwy ... just in Chicago, Edison Park
Beaver’s - Old Town
The Blue Moon Ballroom - Elgin
The Blue Village - 1 N. Cass Ave., Westmont - Bob Chiappano (Chappelow?), retired Westmont police officer) – the house bands were the Cryan’ Shames and Wild Honey.  Owner Jerry Hess (also It’s A Gass Records), had a discount club membership card
Captain Rivers Waterfront
The Cellar - Arlington Heights
Cheetah, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, American Tribal Productions
The Coffee Break (The CB) - Elmhurst
The Cool - Libertyville
Cool Schmoo
Crimson Cougar - Aurora
Dark Spot, 11 S. Roselle, Roselle
The Deep End - Park Ridge, now a Toyota dealer
Papa Joe’s, Vic Giovannini (sp?), owner … Bogie’s Ale House)
Elysian Fields - Lincoln Park, Chicago
The Exit - Northbrook Park District
Frank Bond’s Teen Club, 3243 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago
Gi Gi A Go-Go - Lyons (Nate Pasero, owner)
Glen Ellyn Youth Center
Glen’s Den - Glen Ellyn, circa 1968-69
The Green Gorilla - Des Plaines   
The Factory West of 294
The Hullabaloo, Chesterton, IN (?)
The Hut - Des Plaines
The Jaguar - St. Charles (Rusty Paulson- sp? - owner, now in California, stayed at Miller’s Resort in Wisconsin, Lucille Miller owner
Jefferson Eden - 2317 W. Jefferson, Joliet
Judy Junior’s - Old Town
Like Young - Old Town, Tom owner, 1335 N. Wells St.
Lolly’s - Old Town
The Lottery - Elgin
The Mother Duck - Glen Ellyn
Spectrum, North Ave., now a tattoo parlor
The Mousetrap Club - Elmhurst
My Sister’s Place - Old Town
The New Place - Algonquin, burned down on 12/20/1968, Don Manhard (sp?)
The Palace, 3750 N. Clark St., Chicago
The Pink Panther - Deerfield
The Pit - Glenview Park District
The Pynk Phynk - Sheridan Road, Chicago (Ken Freeman)
Chipper Regalmuto ran and booked   
The Rink - Waukegan
The Rolling Stone - Winnetka owned by Bob Medel (?)
St. Gregory’s Hall, 6700 W. Diversey, Chicago
Syndrome (Coliseum, 15 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago)
Valley View - Frankfort
The Way Out, 4840 Dempster, Skokie
Wheaton Youth Center
Wild Goose - Waukegan (in an old Jewel), Oak Lawn outdoors, Oak Park outdoors, Shorewood
The Wonderland Ballroom - Elgin (early 1970s) 

I seem to remember another club in Lyons, IL … let’s say Ogden and 47th Street.  Anybody remember this place ???
(Truth be told, many of these places were pretty divey ... but the prospect of luring young music-loving teenagers inside begat a goldmine of memories.) 
Actually, I thought there was a Cheetah Club here, too, at one time ... in the suburbs somewhere.  
I Also remember shows being at The Sabre Room (more of a showroom / Rick Saucedo type of place) and a place called The Zoo on Roosevelt Road that we went to quite a bit in the ‘70’s … lots of oldies bands played there (and we did, too, at one point) …
The Clipper Ship (also on 47th Street I believe) and a bunch of country / redneck bars down North Avenue in Northlake … Mr. G’s in Lombard or Glen Ellyn I believe … and a few more places down Mannheim Road in Stone Park that eventually went all disco when that craze swooped in.
Of course some of the bigger names played The Kinetic Ballroom and the Aragon … and then there was The Rockford Armory, about 90 minutes away, where at various times I saw Chuck Berry, Badfinger, The Raspberries, Malo and several others.
There was The Quiet Knight on Belmont Avenue in the city (where The Siegel – Schwall Blues Band were the house band … but also where, for either a $5 cover charge or a two drink minimum, I was introduced to the music of Jackson Browne, Jim Croce and David Bromberg before they were national names on the scene … but again, ALL of this would have been in the early ‘70’s after I’d reached the legal drinking age.)
Lake Geneva had a bunch of places (and so did all the college towns in you didn’t mind the drive or could arrange for a place to stay).  YEARS ago one of our readers (Jean Theel) sent in exclusive pictures of Jimi Hendrix playing at a small club in Wisconsin … I’ll look to see if I can dig any of those out.  (I think it was in the Milwaukee area somewhere)  
Lots of memories being stirred up right now.  (Man, I wish Chet Coppock were here … he could rattle off fifty names in thirty seconds!!!  And a lot of of the higher-end clubs, too, like Mr.Kelly’s and The Checkerboard Lounge.)
Keep ‘em coming, folks!  (kk) 

The PIT - Glenview
The HUT - DesPlaines
The Green Gorilla - DesPlaines
The Deep End - Park Ridge
The New Place - Algonquin
The Cellar - Arlington Heights
Glen's Den - Glen Ellyn
And here are a few more that I played:
Wild Goose - Waukegan
Wild Goose - Elmhurst
Wild Goose - Oak Lawn
Majestic Bandstand - Lake Geneva
Holiday Ballroom - North Side, Chicago
Quent Lang 

Besides Rush Up ... where the stage was three flights up ... and a real challenge with a Hammond B3 ... in the Rush Street area were Beaver’s, Lally’s and Rush West.  
In Frankfort was the Valleyview Young Adults Club (we called it the YAK), and there was a Dex Card Wild Goose in Joliet as well.  
But don’t forget all the high schools that were our bread and butter in the era.  I saw just about everyone, including all the DJ’s at Joliet Catholic High.  I’ll bet everyone out there saw more bands at high school weekend dances than in clubs.
Rick Barr
The Ides Of March played our high school regularly ... mostly because it was also THEIR high school, too!  I must have seen The Ides Of March perform at Morton West at least seven or eight times, including their "farewell performance" in around 1973 or 4, I believe.  (Man, what a night THAT was ... but that's a story for another day!)
I went to Riverside-Brookfield (RB) my first two years ... and we had The Association one year and The Turtles the next.  In fact, completely unbeknownst to me at the time ... and until just a few years ago ... I was at the same Turtles RB concert that Jim Peterik was where he met his wife!!!  (Now how cool is that?!?!)
We talked a short time back about schools competing to "win a band to perform at your high school," another popular way of getting acts like The Grass Roots or Gary Lewis and the Playboys (and several others) out to your school for a free concert.
A WAY different time than today ... back in those golden days without the necessity of metal detectors at every doorway.  Sad.  (kk)

It must have been the Majestic Hills Bandstand in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
From an article in the Lake Geneva At The Lake magazine recalling the ski lodge, “modeled after ‘American Bandstand,”’ it swung into action during the summers between 1960 and 1970, and featured acts such as Stevie Wonder, The Who, Chicago, The Monkees and the Beach Boys.” A fire destroyed the facility in 1988 and it never reopened.
The Who made their U.S. debut with a week-long series of shows March 25 - April 2 at the RKO 58th Street Theatre in New York City, but then returned immediately to Europe. They returned in June of that year, the first date being 6/14/67 at the Fifth Dimension Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and then the next night, 6/15/67, they performed at The Cellar in Arlington Heights. The next night, they were at the Fillmore West in San Francisco and two days after that, they were on the stage at the famed Monterey Pop Festival.  They returned to Chicago for a date at the International Amphitheater on 8/5/67.
In 1968, they played The New Place in Algonquin 7/31/68. The following night, they were at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago. Then up to Wisconsin where they played Majestic Hills in Lake Geneva. In October, they were back in the Chicago area at the Jaguar Club in St. Charles 10/8/68.
They returned to Chicago in 1969 with three days of shows over Memorial Day weekend 5/29 - 31/69, returning there for a Halloween show on 10/31/69, all at The Kinetic Playground. The “Who’s Next” tour brought them to the Auditorium Theater for two shows on 7/1/70 and 7/4/70.
Newspaper clipping: July 2, 1967 Morning Star newspaper)
Ken Voss

A favorite that we played all the time was Like Young on Wells in Old Town.  
Of course, there were dances ... the Embassy Ballroom, the Vogue Ballroom, Antoine’s and our fave, The Holiday Ballroom. 
Then there were a few places in the 70’s where I played as Tufano and Giammarese … the Orphan, It’s Here, the Bulls and Amazing Grace. Villa Olivia was another. 
Carl Giammarese
The Buckinghams  

Hi Kent –
I sent you pretty much everything I know about the local clubs in the far NW corner of Chicago and adjacent burbs back in 2014, and you posted it in your May 27, 2014 entry:  http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2014/05/helping-out-our-readers.html   
My parents were pretty strict and kept me on a short leash in that era. My church (Immaculate Conception, Harlem & Talcott) had a Teen Club, and that's as close as I came to clubbing while I was in high school.
The Teen Club music wasn't bad. I saw the Riddles there at least once. My wife was in the Teen Club at St. John Brebeuf parish, up Harlem in Niles, and she saw the Shames there once. One thing you had to watch out for at IC's Teen Club dances were proctors who tried to make sure that "slow dancing" was in fact dancing and not making out in motion.
I am curious about the second club in Edison Park, which I don't think was there for very long. Needless to say, I never went, and from the outside it looked ... messy. I'm thinking 1968 or early 1969.
-- Jeff Duntemann
    Scottsdale, Arizona 

There was a VERY popular club in Park Ridge around this era, too … again, I was too young to go … but I wanna say that either the very early stages Styx or Chicago … or BOTH … played there fairly regularly … before they were known by these household names.
You know, I KNEW we had covered the local club scene more than once in Forgotten Hits … but never actually did a search to find it.  (Actually, I thought it predated the website and went out as part of our emailed newsletter.) 
So thank you for saving me the time looking for it by providing the link shown above.

In a nutshell, it tells us this: 

>>>The Deep End in Park Ridge came up in conversation the other day among some 60-something friends, and I was the only one who had ever been.  I'm pretty sure you mentioned a book recently that had some discussion of the Chicagoland clubs, but I can't find the reference. I'm genuinely curious as to what I missed way back when. I grew up just a few blocks from The Bat Cave in Old Edison Park and knew from the grapevine what it was. Alas, my parents thought of it as just half a notch better than a bordello. My friends with more liberal parents also went to The Deep End and The Hut in Des Plaines. Does anybody know where this was? Or The Deep End?  Finally, I'm pretty sure that there was a second music club in Old Edison Park for awhile, maybe a half block from The Bat Cave, circa 1966. I don't remember the name, but it looked pretty scruffy from the outside. I don't think it was there for very long. Would be interested to hear more about the clubs generally, and the ones in the NW quadrant specifically.  (Jeff Duntemann)     
I'm sure you've been deluged with Deep End and Hut info, but ...
Deep End was in Park Ridge at the corner of Touhy and Busse.  It was converted later into a Toyota dealership, and is now (alas) townhouses.  I have fond memories of being arrested for my very first time at the Deep End by the Park Ridge cops for committing the ultimate crime - Being from Chicago!!!  This Link may be of interest:
I just checked and the link above is still “live” and offers up a little more information on The Deep End, including a photo showing a schedule of upcoming bands (which includes C.T.A.)  Maybe THIS is the Park Ridge club I’ve been thinking about all along!  (kk)

Sure Kent,
Teen clubs were our bread and butter between '65 - '69. The Cellar in the basement of the phone company in Arlington Heights was the home of the Shadows of Knight. I also saw the Who there (amazing). I think Clapton also played there. The New Place up in Cary or Lake Zurich was a great one. It burned down and they rebuilt. The Green Gorilla in Des Plains ... The Purple Octopus in Aurora ... The Barn in Naperville.  One in Waukegan, too, but I can't remember the name.  (oldtimers' memory lapse!)  

Of course there was the home of the Cryan' Shames in Westmont (it originally opened in Carol Stream, moved to Elmhurst and then moved to Westmont, where it stayed for years. 
Then there were all of the Dex Card Wild Gooses. These were 'Pop-Up's' ... he would bring in the stage and everything else in towns like Elmhurst, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge and many more. I think we worked with Dex about 60 dates and he never lost money on us. I just heard Dex recently died.  I have some great stories about him.  He will be missed.  
I think the place Bill was talking about in Wisconsin was a ski area across the lake from Lake Geneva. Many big names played there.
Most these venues charged about $2.50 and the kids had to be under 21 years old. It was a great time to be a teenager in the Mid West.
This is just a short list. I'm sure there were many more ... and I'll try and send them along as I remember them
Jim Pilster
The Cryan' Shames

OK, so THIS one has been driving me crazy all week since this topic first came up.
What was the name of the place right on 25th Avenue in what had to have been Melrose Park ... virtually ZERO parking ... again, lines out the door and, once you got in, you had to go down a flight of stairs to the "showroom."  I can remember ALL kinds of big names playing there over the years but cannot recall the name of the club.  (Funny 'cause it almost seems like THIS is the kind of place that would be named "The Cellar" because you had to go all the way down to the basement to see the entertainment!)
Anybody???  C'mon, it's driving me nuts!!!  (kk) 

Also, as for that place in Milwaukee where FH Reader Jean Theel got to hang out with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, it was called The Scene ... evidently a BIG spot just 90 miles north of here, where any number of big name acts appeared.
I tried to find the original article (it probably dates back to around 2005 - 2007) but couldn't put my fingers on it fast enough to include in today's posting ...
But here is a "recap" piece we did a few years ago that also shows a few pictures from this venue ... 
Imagine walking into the little club and catching The Jimi Hendrix Experience playing there!!!  (kk)

We seem to have hit another hot topic here again ... so keep the info coming, folks ... we're ALL about the memories here in Forgotten Hits!  (kk)