This month's "Boot of the Month" is Rory's blistering performance at the Allen Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio on September 8, 1972. Many thanks to Don Holmes for his contributions to this show.
Built in 1921, the Allen Theatre was designed by architect, C. Howard Crane, for canadian producers, Jules and Jay Allen of Allen Theatre Enterprises, who at one time controlled the largest chain of movie houses in Canada. It's 3,000 seat capacity made it Cleveland's largest movie theater at that time. This was the Allen brothers first and only foray into the United States. Without affiliation with a major motion picture circuit they found it difficult to obtain first-run movies and it wasn't long before RKO had taken over the operation of the movie house. The Allen Theatre was the 3rd of 5 classically styled movie houses to be built for a planned entertainment district to be called the Playhouse Square Center.
In 1953 Stanley-Warner Theatres assumed control of the Allen, but after 15 years of low attendance and over a half million in restoration costs, the theater proved too costly an endeavor. On March 5, 1968 the theatre closed its doors, with the State, Ohio, and Palace Theaters of Playhouse Square swiftly following its lead. The Allen Theater, however, would open its doors for a series of special shows in the early seventies to help raise money for the revitalization of Playhouse Square. The success of these shows and other fund-raising activities allowed the Playhouse Square Association to start the restoration of the closed movie houses in 1979. Ironically, The Allen Theater was almost left out of the revitalization project. Slated for demolition to make way for a parking garage, it was given a last minute reprieve 1993, and reopened its doors once again in 1998.
When the Allen Theatre re-opened in November of 1971 to help raise money for the revitalization of Playhouse Square, it hosted a wide variety of shows: from the Budapest Symphony Orchestra to rock shows like Pink Floyd and The Jeff Beck Group. On September 8, 1972 it was Rory Gallagher and his band who helped fill the seats of this historic theatre. With a revamped lineup of returning bassist Gerry McAvoy, Rod De'ath replacing Wilger Campbell on drums, and Lou Martin on the keyboards, Rory rocks the former movie house. Three weeks later, the September 30, 1972 issue of Melody Maker hits the stands, announcing to the world the results of its annual guitar poll. The readers have selected Rory Gallagher as their top guitar player, dethroning none other than Eric Clapton in the process.