A comment at a recent post mentioned “Jenning’s Rose Room, a classic poor white juke and dance hall … where Trader Joes now sits.” PG had been in that building when it was called Richards, and knew stories. Pictures are from ” The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.
There is no telling what the original use of the building at 931 Monroe Drive was. It was across the street from Grady Stadium, and adjacent to Piedmont Park. The railroad tracks that became the beltline ran behind it. The parking lot was primitive, with a marquee sign built at some point. (PG drove by that sign several nights and saw that Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing. Somehow, he did not make it inside.)
There was another nightclub building on the hill behind JRR. One night, PG went to see a jazz band there, accompanied by someone who lived in a nearby house. After seeing the band, PG was led to a horse stable behind the bar. The horses were not well maintained … you could see the ribs sticking out. There is a story of a goat getting loose from the stable, and being chased out of the jazz bar during happy hour.
Jennings Rose Room was before PG’s time. There is a story that some men had lunch there, and made a bet. The idea was to hit a golf ball from the JRR parking lot, and putt it into a hole at Piedmont Park. A biscuit was used as a tee. The first shot went across the street, onto the field at the stadium. Eventually, the ball was hit across Tenth Street, onto a green, and into the cup.
At some point, Jennings Rose Room closed. A gay club called Chuck’s Rathskeller was opened in that location. A rock and roll club or two did business there. Then Richards opened.
The first time PG was in the house was after a Johnny Winter concert at the Fox. There were rumors of visiting musicians dropping by Richards to play after their shows. Mr. Winter was only onstage for a couple of minutes after PG got there.
The most memorable trip to Richards was during the summer of 1973. The headliner was Rory Gallagher, who was ok but not spectacular. The opening act was Sopwith Camel, one of the forgotten bands of the seventies. They performed a novelty hit, “Hello Hello”. Someone in the audience liked it, and paid them to do it again. The band wound up doing “Hello Hello” five times, and said that was the most money they made on a show in a long time.
Average White Band was making the rounds that fall, and had a show at Richards. A lot of the audience was black, and they hit the dance floor in unison when “Pick up the Pieces” was played. Fellow Scotsman Alex Harvey was in town, and joined AWB to sing “I heard it through the grapevine”.
Muddy Waters played at Richards one night. The band did most of the playing, with Mr. Waters tossing in a few licks on bottleneck guitar. He might have sang a couple of times.
About this time, Iggy Pop played a few shows at Richards. One night, someone snuck up on him, and gave him a hug. It was Elton John, wearing a gorilla suit.
PG saw three more shows (that he can remember) at Richards. Richie Havens was worth the two dollar admission. Soft Machine played in the winter of 1974. Larry Coryell played a show that summer, with the Mike Greene Band opening. PG got to talk to Mike Greene that night. The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (who do the Grammy Awards) had a President named C. Michael Greene at one time. PG thinks this is the person he talked to that night.
Two friends of PG went, as their first date, to see Spirit at Richards. They were married a few years later. Towards the end of 1974, Richards was running out of steam. They advertised a New Years Eve show starring B.B. King, and sold high priced tickets. When the crowd showed up for the show, they found the doors locked. Richards had closed.
The next tenant for 931 Monroe Drive was going to be Cabaret After Dark, a gay club. There was a fire the night before the grand opening. The building was never used again. Eventually, a shopping center was built on the site.
UPDATE: Here is an article, from the Great Speckled Bird, about Richards. This is a repost.