hip hop music

September 8, 2003

So, How's the Family?

Our friend Peter Scholtes at complicatedfun.com just published an excellent oral history of Minneapolis' legendary First Avenue club, with quotes from Jimmy Jam, ?uestlove, Slug, and many others. A must-read for all us Prince fans, and good reading for non-believers as well:

The legendary bands. The terrifying toilets.

An oral history that goes so far behind the music it will leave you at a gun range beneath the stage.

If there's a spiritual equivalent to lust--and Prince knows there must be--I've felt it for First Avenue ever since I first set foot there. That was 1990, so my feelings don't have much to do with Purple Rain, the Minneapolis nightclub's only real claim on the national imagination. But look at the crowd shots in that 1984 movie and you'll see a social mixture that really did exist at First Avenue. The movie mythologized something true about the Minneapolis that Prince helped create. But it didn't tell an even better story: how a bunch of ambitious black teenagers and crazed punk rockers saved live music here, and helped reinvent rock 'n' roll worldwide.

Prince and the new wave were no further from each other than First Avenue and its adjoining room, the 7th St. Entry. The dance nights and live music in both venues reflected the uniquely cosmopolitan vision of the club's longtime manager, Steve McClellan.

Now, as First Avenue struggles amid club competition and real estate development, it seems like a good time to tell this story again--and let those who were there put things in their own words. The history of First Avenue is the story of segregation in downtown Minneapolis, of sex, cocaine, mud wrestlers, businessmen, gangsters, and idealists. It's your story, too, if you are among the millions of people who have passed through the venue's doors since it opened in 1970 as a hippie rock and soul club called the Depot, in the old Greyhound bus station...

Posted by jsmooth995 at September 8, 2003 3:35 PM

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