Music History & Venues

Cleveland is well known for its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but music pervades the history of this Great Lakes city. From the establishment of the Cleveland Opera Company and Cleveland Orchestra in the early 20th century to Alan Freed and the Moondog Coronation Ball in 1952, the polka craze of the early 1960s, the star-making glory days of WMMS radio, and the pioneering proto-punk sounds of the 1970s, Cleveland's musical culture and history has been both diverse and distinctive, as well as nationally significant. From polka to punk, Cleveland has made an impressive range of musical contributions.

After Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation leaders visited Cleveland in July 1985, they were very impressed with the city's rock roots. But rather than picking Cleveland right away, they decided to hold a national competition to pick the location. The race to land the Rock Hall was on.
View Story | Show on Map

On September 15, 1964, the Beatles descended upon Cleveland Public Hall. A horde of approximately 11,000 screaming fans piled into Cleveland Public Hall to see the Fab Four perform their particular brand of musical magic. At first glance, the aging Public Hall may not have appeared to be a…
View Story | Show on Map

More than a century before it hosted ten-pin bowling matches, the southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 4th Street (then called Sheriff Street) offered operatic entertainment. Indeed, the Euclid Avenue Opera House, which opened on September 6, 1875, stood at the heart of what was at the time…
View Story | Show on Map

In its heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the corner of Woodland and East 55th was, in the words of bluesman George Hendricks, "like another city—it was like New York." Before Leo's Casino had its storied run as a Motown stronghold on Euclid Avenue, Gleason's Musical Bar…
View Story | Show on Map

Following a stint distributing records for jukeboxes, Henry LoConti Sr. opened the first Agora in 1966 near Case Western Reserve University. After two more location changes the club ended up at its present location in 1986. Originally seen as a dance club for college students, the Agora quickly…
View Story | Show on Map

In 1963, business partners Leo Frank and Jules Berger opened Leo's Casino in the lounge of the old Quad Hall Hotel at 7500 Euclid Avenue. The club could host 700 people and regularly booked the top jazz and R&B acts of its era. The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane, Ray Charles and The…
View Story | Show on Map

When John Barr opened Nighttown on February 5, 1965, it was a one-room bar. Constructed in 1920, the building had previously housed the Cedar Hill Diner, a deli, Sam’s Beauty Parlor and Stock's Candies. The Silhouette Lounge, which was run by mob-operated Cadillac Amusements, replaced Stock's…
View Story | Show on Map

Nearing its 25th anniversary (September 22, 2017), the Grog Shop is a fixture of both the Coventry business district and the local independent music scene. The club is also a reminder of Coventry's re-birth in the 1990s. Some twenty years prior to the Grog Shop's opening, Coventry…
View Story | Show on Map

The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame Museum--located at 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, Ohio, is filled with artifacts and memorabilia from polka stars of yesterday and today. Some of the highlights include "America's Polka King" Frank Yankovic's accordion and stage…
View Story | Show on Map

The story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer read like a script from one of Bruce Willis' Die Hard movies. In the early morning hours of September 29, 1947, a dozen masked commandos armed with submachine guns and referring to each other by numbers attacked the Mounds Club, one of the Cleveland…
View Story | Show on Map

The Euclid Tavern was established in 1909 but became a prominent fixture in University Circle only in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With its laid-back atmosphere and unrefined reputation, the Euclid Tavern attracted a varied clientele that ranged from local college students to blue-collar workers…
View Story | Show on Map

Physical changes in neighborhoods are typical in most major cities, and with the passage of time they appear even more dramatic. Unlike fictional towns and buildings we’ve read about in childhood or seen in movies, change in community identity is inevitable. Yet some images from the past populate our memories and we recall them with remarkable clarity.
View Story | Show on Map

Severance Hall, the permanent home of the Cleveland Orchestra, was built between 1929 and 1931. Its completion represents over $7 million in donations from both the Cleveland public and philanthropists, as well as a land grant from the Western Reserve Society. Influential people such as John D.…
View Story | Show on Map