Brighton Allston Rock Music History
As the British music invasion swept America, from the basements, apartments, and in the open air, Brighton and Allston rocked. With many students and young professionals, Brighton Allston was and is a perfect location for musicians to start bands to perform in and support the many clubs and bars with live music, especially from the 1960s through 1980s before DJs took over and replaced live bands. Many of these local bands have faded into obscurity, but several went on to great success and still receive air play today. The Boston Tea Party had a legendary impact in the late 1960s on the Boston and national music scene with new bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Jeff Beck Group. Kenmore Square was very influential with the Rathskeller or "Rat" and the Psychedelic Supermarket. Brighton Allston also has its place. This page looks back on the local club music scene during these years.
Warren Hall Building in Brighton Center 2011
Warren Hall at 337 Washington St in Brighton Center was built in 1879 and over the years it has been used for all kinds of functions, including political rallies, weddings, school recitals, etc. But in 1967, the hall changed dramatically for a few months as the 1960s music explosion came to Brighton in the form of a new club called the Crosstown Bus on the second floor of Warren Hall. A few national acts and many local bands played there.
Crosstown Bus Logo
The Doors were booked at the Crosstown Bus in Brighton Center as a new promising act but by the time they performed at the Crosstown Bus, they were stars. Here are some quotes on the Doors concert on August 10,11 1967:
I slapped high-fives with crazed rock poet Jim Morrison of The Doors as he zigzagged through a crowd at The Crosstown Bus in Brighton, where hippie girls danced in go-go cages and tinfoil adorned the walls for a psychedelic ambiance.
[Steve Morse - Boston Magazine]
No one was prepared for his
or her first Doors concert. Singer Jim Morrison was like
an unleashed psychopath, staggering around and sprawling
on the stage, looking to be in a shamanistic frenzy
(bigger eyeballs I've never seen) and establishing an
explosive tone of hurt and anger, ending in catharsis.
Pianist Ray Manzarek played his dapper opposite - a Van
Cliburn character who acted straight enough to be in a
classical piano competition until you looked further at
his granny glasses, and realized he was an emissary from
Pluto. Guitarist Robbie Kreiger, meanwhile, was a shy,
poetic figure in the background. The first time I saw them
was at the short lived Crosstown Bus in Brighton, a
psychedelic atmosphere complete with absurd silver foil
covering the walls and go-go girls in cages. An
[Steve Morse - Boston Globe]
Morrison's descent wasn't pretty, but anyone who saw him in his prime saw a visually unsettling psychodrama. I caught him twice -- once in Providence and once at the short-lived Brighton club the Crosstown Bus, where he writhed on his back and assumed a fetal position at times, while go-go dancers boogied in cages and lights reflected off tinfoil placed on the walls. The band often just vamped behind him, as he rolled his trance like eyes, twitched and paused for occasional silences to rivet attention. It was a strange, wondrous and occasionally terrifying experience as he muttered, moaned and then exploded to life during the songs' climaxes.
[Steve Morse - Boston Globe]
Earlier when I used to go, it was a nice, if plain, room with a high ceiling. Another strictly 60's thing used to happen there. The police station was just around the corner and because shielded cables were not universally used at this time the wires were like antennas and the police calls came though the PA system. [http://www.punkblowfish.com/BosstownSound.html]
Sadly, the Crosstown
Bus lasted only last a few months but it has a place
in Rock and Roll history because of the Doors
concert. The Hallucinations fronted by Peter
Wolf (before J Geils Band) had the distinction of
being the last act to play there. Peter Wolf said
"We had to go down the fire escape with a lot of
equipment because they didn't have the right
licenses and the cops were coming in to bust the
Dates for 1967
are a few posters of Crosstown Bus concerts:
Doors and Ragamuffins
August 10 and 11, 1967 - $3 admission
Under Boston's Mayor Kevin White, a creative and mostly free, mix of music and culture was presented in Boston's neighborhoods under the name Summerthing. A number of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts played for free in Brighton Allston under Summerthing.
The Byrds, Bo Diddley, BB King and Chuck Berry performed at Ringer playground in Allston under Summerthing. Smith Field hosted the Association and Rogers Park the Grassroots and the Boston Ballet.
Harvard Stadium also hosted a number of very impressive music lineups with admission and sponsorship by Schaefer Beer.
Summerthing Harvard Stadium Poster
Summerthing Harvard Stadium Poster
Harvard Stadium Summerthing Concerts:
Wilson Pickett, Sly & The Family Stone and The Rascals
Sly Photo Link
Joan Baez Photo Link1. Photo2
June 23 - The Band
June 28 - Ray Charles
June 29 - B. B. King. Butterfield Blues Band; James Cotton Blues Band
July 1 - Ten Years After, Mott The Hoople
July 6 - Four Seasons (cancelled)
July 8- Miles Davis Buddy Miles, Big Band; Seatrain.
July 13- Grateful Dead (canelled replaced by the Chambers Brothers), John Hammond.
July 15- Ike and Tina Turner, Voices of East Harlem.
July 20- John Sebastian. Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, Manhattan Transfer.
July 22- Van Morrison, Great Speckled Bird with lan and Sylvia, Tom Paxton.
July 27- Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ramsey Lewis, Carla Thomas, Lean Thomas. Percy Mayfield.
July 29- Jose Feliciano.
August 3- Johnny Mathis
August 10- The Supremes.
August 12- Janis Joplin. Although her band’s equipment was stolen, Janis performed with her Full Tilt Boogie Band before 10,000 fans (40,000 showed up) using borrowed equipment but it would be her last concert. She died on October 4.
August 17- Tom Rush, Melanie
July 21 - Bob Marley, DIck Gregory, Olatunji, Eddie Palmieri, Patti Labelle to benefit South African liberation struggles (video link)
first concert, the organizers had gotten a pledge from
the police that they would not come into the Stadium
unless requested to do so. On June 23, when the Band
came to Cambridge to play on the futuristic sound stage
erected in the south end zone, the only security forces
in the Stadium were hired guards wearing red T-shirts
stenciled with peace symbols. At two dollars a throw and
no reserved seats, the concerts were not exorbitant; but
a lot of people got in free anyway. Half an hour before
the concerts began the red ropes indicating authorized
seating had lost all meaning as freaks swarmed past
"People shouting 'Play 'Maggie May! .... Know any Creedance Songs?' In any case, we were too rowdy for most clubs and bars. We got kicked out of Bunratty's Bar in Boston because we started to incorporate original material and the Club owners didn't like that."
- "Does That Noise In My Head Bother You?" - Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
2011 Photo of the Allston Building and home of the Groggery
Rock Club is a small (850 person
capacity) music venue at
967 Commonwealth Ave in Allston which
opened on September 22, 1977. Originally it had many
small tables for sitting during the concert but changed
to the current open area format. It still is a
great place to see a concert. Because of its small
size, it has often been the location for bands visiting
Boston for the first time who then went on to bigger
success and larger venues.
Tom Waits at the Paradise
Aerosmith (1973 - live recording of "Last Child" from Live Bootleg album)
Barry and the Remains (1999)
Bette Midler (1978)
Billy Joel (1980 - live recordng of She's Got A Way)
Blondie (1978 - live recording of Bang A Gong from "Blond and Beyond" )
Brian Setzer (1994)
Cheap Trick (1998)
Dixie Dregs (1980)
Echo and the Bunnymen
Elvis Costello (1996)
Fabulous Thunderbirds (1981)
George Jones (1982)
Jack Bruce (1993)
Joan Jett (1994)
Joe Jackson (2003)
John Mayer (2001)
Jonathan Richmond and the Modern
Lindsey Buckingham (1993)
Little River Band (1878)
Lou Reed (1978)
Mick Taylor (1989 - Former Rolling
Pat Benatar (1993)
Patty Smyth (2005)
Paul Rodgers (1993),
Savoy Brown (1981)
Stevie Ray Vaughan (1983)
Thin Lizzy (1978)
Tom Petty (1978 Photo)
Tom Waits (1977)
Tower of Power
U2 (1981 1st American tour. Live From
Warren Zevon (1985, 2000)
Ramones at the Paradise 1978
Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders at the Paradise 1980
Warren Zevon with Timothy B
Schmit (Eagles and Poco) at the Paradise
Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick
at the Paradise
Some of the bands who have played at Harper's Ferry: Taj Mahal, Bo Diddley, Maroon 5, and Jefferson Starship.
Ave. Still open and booking local bands
In 1970, the not yet famous band Aerosmith shared an apartment at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston
"There were six of us in the group, some of us were living in the kitchen, eating brown rice and Campbell's soup. Those days, you know, when a quart of beer was heaven. It was hard times and it was really good. During lunch we would set up all our equipment outside of BU, in the main square and just started wailing. That's basically how we got billed. We never got much publicity in the magazines and newspapers."
- from the Steven Tyler interview in Circus Magazine June 1975
Aerosmith Concert in front of 1325 Commonwealth Ave November 2012
Plaque for 1325 Commonwealth Ave
Video of the November 2012 concert <click here>
Before Tom Scholz founded the band Boston, which went on to great commercial success, he lived in Allston and Brighton while a student at MIT and playing in local bands
Mr Butch on Harvard Ave
Harold Madison, Jr., more widely known as Mr. Butch,
and sometimes called the "King of Kenmore Square" and "The
Mayor of Allston" was a
man living on the streets of Boston. Over the course of
three decades, he gained significant celebrity among
Boston's college students and within its rock scene.
During the 1980s, Mr. Butch's fame among the local music
scene grew, and he was given gigs at The Underground in
Allston and The Rat
in Kenmore Square, as well as Channel club on Boston's
waterfront (all now defunct). Mr. Butch died
in 2007 at the age of 56 from a scooter
accident. A memorial was held in Allston, where a
crowd of about 1,000 people gathered to honor him.
Mr Butch Memorial Parade in Allston 2007