Leo's Casino

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 Temptations all performed at Leo's Casino, as did comedians Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson. Otis Redding played his final concert there on December 9, 1967, dying in a plane crash in Wisconsin the following afternoon.

Co-owner Leo Frank opened his first club - Leo's - in 1952 at East 49th Street and Central Avenue. Leo's attracted the nation's leading jazz and R&B acts, but burned down in 1962, leading to the opening of Leo's Casino the following year. The new club, which quickly established itself as a key stop for touring Motown artists, was one of the most racially integrated nightlife spots in Cleveland. In July 1966 The Supremes played to a packed house of blacks and whites at Leo's not long after the Hough Riots broke out mere blocks away from the club.

Eventually, bigger venues offering bigger paydays began to lure the most popular performers away from Leo's Casino. Continued population decline and disinvestment in Cleveland's east side after the Hough Riots further hurt the club's fortunes. Leo's Casino closed in 1972 and was later torn down. In 1999, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it a historic landmark, placing a plaque on the site where Leo's Casino once stood.

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Audio

Big Acts At Leo's Casino
Larry Rivers remembers Leo's Casino as a place for top acts
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The Four Tops At Leo's Casino
Bennie Jean Johnson remembers seeing the Four Tops at Leo's Casino
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Living Near Leo's Casino
Bennie Jean Johnson describes the location and the atmosphere of Leo's Casino
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Cleveland's Integrated Music Scene
John Grabowski provides a historical overview of Leo's Casino
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