Chamblee54

The Georgian Terrace Ballroom

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History, Music by chamblee54 on February 12, 2016









The Georgian Terrace hotel used to have an adjacent ballroom. The building opened as the “Lucky Strike”, featuring “Duck Pin” bowling. At some time, it became a 1300 seat ballroom. It was not the grand ballroom, where events for the premiere of “Gone With The Wind” were held. As time moved on, the ballroom became a music performance hall. PG saw shows there under four different business names. After the Agora Ballroom closed, the building was vacant, until a fire August 30, 1987. The site of the ballroom is now occupied by an annex of the Georgian Terrace Hotel.

The first show PG saw at this facility was in 1972. The name of the business is forgotten, as is the act that performed. A band, comprised of people PG went to high school with, played before he got there.

In 1974, “Big Time” promoter Alex Cooley opened “Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom”. (Alex Cooley died December 1, 2015.) The first show that PG saw was Dr. John The Night Tripper. A few months later, Capricorn artists Cowboy played, with a vulgar New York band named Mercury opening. Gato Barbieri played at the Ballroom, with PG wondering how people could dance to that type of music.

Several major acts appeared at the Ballroom, mostly without PG in the audience. KISS played there in 1974, and photographs from backstage are in the embedded video. In April of 1974, Steely Dan was across from the Fox. In the summer of 1974, The Tubes played a week at the ballroom, with another heavily hyped show. On January 23, 1976, The Patti Smith Group played at the ballroom.

In 1975, Bruce Springsteen was on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and was recieving a promotional push unlike anything seen before. He played a show at the ballroom that summer, with a generous press party in the balcony. (At one unforgettable show Alex was caught off guard by a Bruce Springsteen request. “He asked if we could shut down the cash registers because they were making too much noise!… That’s the only time I ever did that.” Alex admits.)

PG attended two shows in 1975. Mckendree Spring opened for Fanny, while PG drank too many bourbon and cokes. In November of 1975, Juice Newton opened for Hot Tuna. Miss Newton seemed to be a bit pale, and performed “Get drunk and screw”. Hot Tuna was amazing. They went on stage at 10:55, and played, without a break, until 2:50. The drummer wore a shirt, mother fucking hot tuna. Few would argue that night.

In autumn of 1977, some brave soul opened a place called “The Ballroom” in the space on Peachtree Street. One night, PG went with some friends to see an act, Happy the Man. There seemed to be a bit of chaos in the management of the facility. The Great Southeast Music Hall loaned a few microphones for the show. When the show was over, PG walked out to a car, whose motor was running, with the driver asleep inside.

In the summer of 1978, the ballroom opened as The Agora Ballroom. Apparently, there is a music hall in Cleveland with that name, and they opened branch facilities around the country. There were some shows that PG did not attend. Todd Rundgren opened the facility August 19, 1978. On October 2, 1979, The Clash played. Pictures from the crowd appeared on an album by the band. On December 2, 1981, U2 made their Atlanta debut.

A few weeks after the opening, PG won tickets to an all Texas show. Marcia Ball opened, and a bored PG went to a neighborhood bar to drink beer. PG returned later, and stayed long enough for the singer with Asleep at the Wheel to ask the crowd, Are you stoned?

In November of 1978, PG called a radio station, and asked to be put on the guest list for Talking Heads . (For Talking Heads, and three links in the following paragraphs, the link is for a previous Chamblee 54 post about the show.) The first six people he called were busy, but the last one agreed to go. On the bus going home, a group of black men started to make unfriendly comments. At the next stop, a black friend of PG got on the bus, and went to talk to him.

A few weeks later, Tim Curry made his United States debut. Some record company invested a lot of money in him, and supplied him with an outstanding band. PG was wandering around the balcony after the first show, and saw Tom Waits sitting at a table. The bodyguard said no, that’s not Tom Waits, it is just someone that looks like him. At a bar, after the show, PG was raving about what he had seen, when a lady came up to him. What color are your eyes? They are brown, because you are full of shit. Soon, the 23 Oglethorpe was taking him home.

Somewhere in the haze of 78 and 79, Ultravox brought their synthetics to the Agora. A local band, First Blood, was more entertaining as the opener. PG drank a very large can of Foster’s beer, and floated through the proceedings. After the show, PG was invited to a party in Candler Park. On the way there, there was a horrific car crash on Ponce de Leon. At the party, friends of First Blood dissected their performance, between lines of coke.

One night, PG was enjoying drink specials at a neighborhood bar. He took a break, walked over to the Agora, and saw a few minutes of a show by Freddie Hubbard.

In early 1979, the B 52s were on the verge of stardom. (Here is a nifty feature about the Atlanta local music scene in those days.) The opener for the 52s was The Brains , yet another talented band that never made it big. At the table next to PG, a lady wore a dynamite World War Two army uniform.

Later in 1979, Ted Turner had an idea for a TV show, “Live at the Agora”. The first show was filmed in Atlanta, and featured Graham Parker and the Rumor. If they ever show that film again, and you see a crowd shot, that is PG wearing a white T shirt, with a white Agora iron on logo. Parker was a great musician, who had the misfortune to look like Big Bird’s nerdy little brother. If Graham Parker had looked like Bruce Springsteen, he would have been a superstar.

In March of 1980, Lene Lovich came to the Agora. About a year later, Spirit played on Peachtree Street. The show was sponsored by a radio station, and tickets were $2.96. Despite the low price, and high musical quality, the balcony was closed, and only about a hundred people were at the show. PG thought this was odd, but little surprised him by this time.

The last show that PG caught at the Agora was The Ramones. Joey and the pinheads were past their prime, with only two original members playing. It was an all ages show, with alcohol served in the balcony. Downstairs was a festive party, with costumes and enthusiastic high school kids. The balcony was the same rock and roll drunks you had seen for years. The Ramones would have made a great oldies band, if they could have quit dying. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.






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