Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Grande Ballroom - Is There a Future For Detroit's Former Rock and Roll Mecca?


The Grande Ballroom as it exists in ruins today.

In the mid to late sixties, the Grande Ballroom was the place to be on the weekends in Detroit. The Motor City had no shortage of high energy, head banging garage bands competing with one another in frequent "Battle of the Bands" events. Local groups like MC5 (Motor City 5), SRC (my fav), Frost, The Stooges with Iggy Pop, The Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, and many others each had a dedicated following.

Top-shelf bands from around the country, and from England in particular, saw Detroit's Grande Ballroom as the undisputed rock
and roll Mecca of the Midwest. The Jefferson Airplane, Cream with Eric Clapton, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, The Spirit, The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Savoy Brown, The Moody Blues, and many others played on the Grande stage that once hosted the Glenn Miller Band, Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, and other swing dance era big bands. There was a lot of music history made within these walls.



During the turbulent Sixties, the Grande Ballroom served up an uneasy mixture of high energy music and counter culture propaganda centered around Detroit's self-proclaimed hippie guru, John Sinclair. John managed some local Detroit bands and led a group called Trans Love Energies, which morphed into the White Panther Party when the group moved to Ann Arbor because of police harassment.
 
Is there a future for a restored Grande Ballroom in the new Detroit? Some people think so. Check out the link for more discussion of restoring this landmark which holds so many memories for inner-city and suburban Detroiters.

 http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/detroit/index.ssf/2013/07/rock_and_roll_hall_of_fame_off.html

For more on the Grande Ballroom: http://fornology.blogspot.com/2012/04/grande-ballroom-detroits-sixties-rock.html