Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards said of
his bandmate’s death, “There are certain
people…you know they’re not going to be 70
years old, ever. Not everybody makes it.”
The same goes for many historic U.S. per-
formance sites. Among still-lamented shrines
that died before getting old is New York
City’s CBGB (1973 to 2006), which during its
heyday birthed punk rock and rock legends
including Television, the Ramones, Blondie,
Talking Heads and The B-52s. Another is San
Francisco’s 1928 Winterland Ballroom, the
ice skating rink turned rock palace where
The Band’s 1976 swan song was filmed as The
Last Waltz and resident band the Grateful
Dead led an all-star last night in 1978.
Yet, for every lost temple, there are soul
survivors around the nation yet to cross the
great divide and take the stairway to heaven.
For destinations, landmark musical venues
and accompanying musical birthrights can
mean branding and marketing gold. In tune
with today’s shift toward more authentic,
connected and exuberant experiences, seeing a show, holding an event, taking a tour,
meeting musicians and other engagements
with historic venues are platinum for groups.
Whether going back to Woodstock or
feelin’ no pain in Luckenbach, Texas, groups
with a lust for life and rockin’ at the hops
eight days a week will find satisfaction at the
following group-ready veteran venues. By
no means exhaustive, the line-up includes
museums, rock hotels and a medley of famed
musicians, photographers and journalists
speaking to the power of “being there.”
As pioneering concert promoter Bill
Graham used to say to audiences at San
Francisco’s legendary Fillmore Auditorium,
“Like Ringing a Bell”
In 1955, a young St. Louis musician named
Charles Edward Anderson Berry traveled to
Chicago to meet his hero, Muddy Waters.
Hailing from Clarksdale, Miss, wellspring
of the 1920s-era style known as Mississippi
Delta Blues, Waters (real name McKinley
Morganfield) had first recorded five years
earlier at Chicago’s Chess Records.
Founded in 1950 by Polish immigrants
Leonard and Philip Chess, the studio, its
signature sound created by legends including Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Johnnie
Johnson, Etta James and Howlin’ Wolf, forged
the future of rock and roll. Today, 2120 South
Michigan Ave. (immortalized in an instrumental song recorded by The Rolling Stones
at Chess in 1964 while on their inaugural U.S.
tour), Chess’ most famous address is Willie
Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation, offering
From pioneering 1920s bluesman Robert Johnson
and 1960s supernovas
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin,
Jim Morrison and The
Rolling Stones’ founder
Brian Jones to Nirvana’s
Kurt Cobain and English
muse Amy Winehouse, “ 27
Club” members comprise
some 60 musicians who
passed away at age 27.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.
CHUCK BERRY STATUE, ST. LOUIS
ATLANTIC CITY BOARDWALK HALL, ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.
Music venues of yesteryear strike
a chord with modern-day groups
BY JEFF HEILMAN