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.

Euclid Avenue Opera House

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,…

Severance Hall

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 heavy weight philanthropists, as well as a land grant from the…

Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame

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…

Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House

Frank Sterle, an immigrant from Ljubljana, Slovenia, founded his Slovenian Country House in 1954. With a small building on East 55th Street, a few picnic tables, and only one waitress - who had to memorize the small menu since none had been printed -…

Nighttown

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…

Aragon Ballroom

October 22, 1933. The depth of the Great Depression. Thousands of banks have failed over the past four years. The U.S. economy has ground to a near standstill. Nearly 15 million Americans--a quarter of the workforce--are out of work. But there…

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,…

The Cleveland Agora

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 1984. Originally seen as a dance…

Euclid Tavern

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…

Gleason's Musical Bar

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…

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 1979, the year that Ian Hunter released “Cleveland Rocks,” the Wall Street Journal proclaimed Cleveland the nation’s “Rock and Roll Capital.” The city had earned this reputation through the influence of WJW disc jockey Alan Freed, Record…