Filed Under Rock and Roll

The Cleveland Agora

A Rock & Roll Proving Ground

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 evolved into a nationally prominent venue in the music industry, developing a reputation for breaking major new talent.

While the Agora became a national chain of clubs for a time, its flagship remained in Cleveland. In 1968 the venue opened the nation's first in-house recording studio, producing many live albums. "Onstage at the Agora" became an internationally syndicated television show before MTV. The Agora seats an impressive 2,700 people in its theater and ballroom.

Video

Hank LoConti, Sr. and the Cleveland Agora, Pt. 1 Building a Cleveland Rock n' Roll Institution Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
Hank LoConti, Sr. and the Cleveland Agora, Pt. 2 Instant Success: The Agora Outgrows its Original Location Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
Hank LoConti, Sr. and the Cleveland Agora, Pt. 3 Teaming Up with WMMS for the Coffee Break Concert Series Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities

Audio

Henry LoConti on Iggy Pop Henry LoConti recalls an infamous moment at the Agora Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Devo onstage at the Agora, ca. 1978 During the late 1970s, Akron, Ohio became a hotbed for new rock and roll bands. Devo's 1980 song "Whip It!" became an international hit. Source: Agora Theater
Meatloaf and Ian Hunter at the Agora, ca. 1979 Meatloaf's seminal Bat Out of Hell album was released on Cleveland International Records in 1977. Hunter is best know for penning the local favorite "Cleveland Rocks" in 1979. Source: Agora Theater
Pere Ubu at the Agora, ca. 1977 Despite being one of Cleveland's - and America's - most unique and influential bands, Pere Ubu have never achieved great mainstream success. Source: Agora Theater
Crowds line up at the Agora Crowds line up at the Agora near Euclid Avenue and East 24th Street, 1970s. Source: Agora Theater

Location

5000 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103

Metadata

“The Cleveland Agora,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 4, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/1.