Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie and the banks of the Cuyahoga river, the city of Cleveland has an auspicious rock history. It was here that radio personality Alan Freed first coined the term "Rock and Roll" and put on the first Rock and Roll Concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball on March 21, 1952. Legendary frontman for Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter pays homage to the man and his city in the 1979 classic, "Cleveland Rocks."
"All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin' Cleveland Rocks"
When I first came over, with Mott, you'd do these clubs and nobody would turn up. Then you'd get to Cleveland and it would always be packed. Cleveland and Memphis were the first two towns that picked up on us, long before LA or New York--Ian Hunter.
In 1986 Cleveland was selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation as the new home for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Designed by internationally renowned architect I. M. Pei, the museum would finally opens its doors 9 years later on September 2, 1995.
Despite his consummate skills as a musician, and his legendary prowess on stage, Rory Gallagher has yet to be honored at the museum. This despite some kick ass shows he did in Cleveland-- at the Allen, the Agora and this month's "boot of the month" venue, the Empire club!
The Empire: "It was one of the premiere clubs for shows around at that time"--Bill Capuano, Blues Taxi. With a seating capacity ranging from 350 to 800, the Empire was able to book some great shows: including John Mayall, The Stray Cats, Nirvana, Buddy Guy, and Irish legend, Rory Gallagher. Unfortunately, the club lasted only 3 short years from 1990-1992.
There was always something crazy going on, but we just chalked it up to rock n roll. After a Buddy Guy overcrowding situation the fire department reduced the capacity. At that point we started a new venue, (and)...a sports bar took over for a few years after Empire--John Ciulla, former owner of the Empire.
On March 21, 1952, the city of Cleveland put on the very first Rock and Roll concert, Allen Freed's Moondog Coronation Ball. Almost 39 years to the day, on March 24, 1991, Rory comes to Cleveland and shows the town what Rock and Roll is Really about. This is one of the last concerts on Rory's final tour of the United States. So kick off your shoes and have a listen as Rory tears down the Empire.
To read Judy Black's article from the Cleveland Scene previewing Rory's concert at the Empire, click HERE.