Category Archives: Clubs

Alex Cooley interview

alexcooleyAlex Cooley opened Atlanta to the music world, and vice versa. He also brought MidTown Music Festival to The Strip!
He has some very interesting things to say.


Thanks Alex for all the great music over the years.

Thanks especially for bringing The Grateful Dead to Piedmont Park.



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Patti Kakes and MysterE  with Alex Cooley

  All recordings copyright the strip project

Second Atlanta Pop Festival at Byron

 more on Byron

Miami Pop Festival Dec 1968

The Strip

 more on The Strip

 worst experience associated with The Strip

 Peace and Understanding

 cycles of History

Alex’s Allman Brother’s story






Backstreet – hopping round the clock in the 70s.

Backstreet was a dance club off Peachtree. It was a gay club but welcomed those exploring all  freedoms. Remember oral sex in Georgia, even between a married couple,  could land you in jail before 2003!    Backstreet and later  The Limelight both served as battlefields against Georgia’s antiquated laws on sex.

Backstreet was where the music and dancing literally never stopped. No windows or clocks. People sometimes went in and came out a day later.

The Twelfth Gate is a church for turned-on types.

Atlanta Constitution Magazine  June 9, 1968 pg. 24

The Twelfth Gate is a church for turned-on types. Coffeehouse Preach-In

By Olive Ann Burns  (note the wonderful Southern author)

image001THERE’LL be a preach-in and love feast at Piedmont Park this afternoon if it doesn’t rain.

The crowd will gather at 12:30, as usual on Sundays, at The Twelfth Gate, 36 Tenth St. NW, an old two-story green house with red, gold, blue, pink and tan trim, like straight out of a storybook, man.

If we have a great big beautiful day, the community of worshippers—many of them as bearded as the early Christians—will walk eight blocks together to Piedmont Park for a be-in by the lake. In full view of the park’s usual Sunday population of ballplayers, bird watchers, lovers and picnickers, The Coffeehouse Church will begin its celebration of worship by reading aloud:

image003“We gather as we live, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .. 0 Lord, we confess our slowness to see the good in our brothers, the evil in ourselves.

 And this is the one objective and ever lasting truth—in Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven. May we receive the gift and live . . ..”

 A handsome, dark-eyed young Methodist minister will preach the sermon—the Rev. Bruce Donnelly, who speaks straight from the hip about the fact that for thousands years “turned-on types have experienced religious highs—visions and trips even—without the aid of mind-expanding drugs.” He talks about what’s wrong with straight society and what’s wrong with hippies, about what it means to be free: Free to love God, free to give, free to be sincere, not hung-up in guilts, fears or prejudices.

Even without a tie, the Rev. Donne looks like a product of straight society, which he is. He grew up as a Methodist Youth Fellowship leader at Peachtree Road Methodist Church in Buckhead, was president of his fraternity at Emory University and three years ago married a lovely straight-type Agnes Scott College graduate named Barbara Chambers. But he digs the needs of the artsy, folksy, craftsy types among the 25,000 unmarried young adults who live in Atlanta’s 10th Street area.

Bruce’s thing is The Twelfth Gate: On Sundays a religious community, the rest of the week a coffeehouse A place to talk play chess, buy a girl a gift. take a free course—in ESP or leathercraft, yogi-style meditating or the parables of Jesus—or sit over coffee and salami in rapt silence while the folk singers do their thing with songs like “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ or “Isn’t It a Drag That People Take Tranquilizers “

THE house opens every night at 8. The music starts at 9 Cover charge 50 cents or a dollar. No LSD. no pot, no beer, no whisky, no crash-pad, no nightclub-types jokes, no go-go. You could take visiting preachers, fifth-grade Girl Scouts or sheltered teen-agers there for the music and find nothing objectionable—unless you object to beards, candle light, red walls, satirical posters, a heavy fog of cigarette smoke or jokes about “kids on pot today, speed yesterday and acid the day before, but if you mention a cocktail, man, they wouldn’t touch the stuff, and that’s what I call hip-pocrisy. “

Unlike some other coffeehouses, the only pot available at The Gate is the kind that holds 50 cents worth of exotic coffee or tea. Jasmine and Himalayan Darjeeling have to compete with Georgia sassafras, brewed for the coffeehouse by a red-bearded folk singer who was once an Eagle Scout and got expelled from college for joining the march on Selma.

image005THE upstairs Head Shop sells no water pipes, roll-your-own cigarette papers or other equipment for smoking pot. It merely has folk records, books, posters, horoscopes, and lapel buttons that say, “God Is Alive and Well in Mexico City” or “Keep the X in Xmas.” In the Flower Shop, also upstairs, you can buy trappings of the hippie subculture—candles, beads. Incense (10 cents a stick), metal crosses hung on thongs, psychedelic sunglasses, and paper flowers. But there’s nothing weirdo about paper flowers when you find out they were made by student nurses at Georgia Baptist Hospital.

What’s so great about flowers” “They’re a symbol of beauty and peace, you never see one flower fighting another flower.” explained Brenda Brantly, the 23-year-old very unhippie engineering data clerk who is chairman of The Coffeehouse Church’s official board. Brenda came to Atlanta from Milner, Ga., and has surely seen a honeysuckle vine smothering a rose bush, but that’s what she said.

Despite all the beards, beads and sandals. The Twelfth Gate is too straight for most hippies. “I think I’ve finally convinced my father,” said Brenda. “that the kids here just aren’t interested in freaking out.” The working girls and boys, the college and trade-school kids and student nurses who patronize The Gate turn on with poetry, folk songs, art or religion, not with drugs.

Yet a Georgia Tech sorority refused to initiate a pledge when the members learned she’d been going there, and a lot of parents can’t believe any coffeehouse on 10th Street could really be nice.

 “Part of the problem.” said Bruce. “is newspaper articles that call this a hippie house and label me as a minister to mixed-up kids. Also there’s the public notion that anybody who has a chin growth or long hair or sings folk songs is a hippie. This is just not a hippie thing. We’ve had no trouble with kids trying to take drugs here. Those who come are bright, turned on to life, with a great depth and capacity for enjoyment. But most of them have too much sense to risk damage from LSD or a police record from marijuana. If you say the sun is beautiful today, they don’t automatically think, “Yeah, but it would be really great under grass.”

image007“Sure. some of the kids have problems, especially with money. Most of those who left home because of family conflicts—or to be on their own were told by mommy and daddy, “Okay, you won’t live with us, we won’t send .you to college or pay your rent.”  But they’re working out their problems in responsible ways. And they run this place responsibly. It’s the only church of 18 to 25-year-olds anywhere, that I know of, and we’ve never been late with a bill. Out of coffeehouse profits we pay me, we pay rent and overhead. We spent $2,500 this year sending three students to art school, and we’ll do that again next year. We’ll also give $3,300 to the Methodist inner-city ministry here. This inter-city program will pay my salary beginning in July, but the kids will then pay a manager—a soldier at Ft Mac named Pete Schoen. He’s getting out of service soon and will take over buying groceries, booking folk singers -and-running the staff, so I can have more time for running the church and counseling.”

MOST of the kids who come to The Twelfth Gate are between 18 and 25. (Bruce is 26.) Most of Atlanta’s hippies are just 13 to 17.

“There are only about 250 of these bubble-gum hippies and teeny-boppers in the 10th Street area,” said the young minister, “I’m talking about the ones whose life-style includes philosophizing, sharing what they have, not working at regular jobs. I’m talking about resident hippies, right? I don’t mean the 2,000 kids under 18 who hit Atlanta last summer.

“The vacation hippies fell in three categories: Those having trouble at home, those who wanted to see what it’s like to be on their own, and a minority who came for thrills—for sex and drugs and the glamour of running away.

“They came from all over the South, but a lot of the summer kids. were runaways from $50,000 homes in the Atlanta suburbs. Some stopped shaving, mussed their hair, went dirty, wore beads swiped from mom, stood on the corner of 14th and Peachtree to get stared at and learned to say would you be-in to a cup of coffee. To them everything was psychedelic, man, meaning colored lights, not consciousness-expanding. But most of them went back home after two or three weeks—when they got sick or real hungry, or maybe it was time for school to start. Unfortunately, a lot of the thrill-seekers went home really messed up on LSD—or VD.”

According to Bruce, the word is out that Atlanta is where it’s at this summer, man, the place to be: “Some think we can expect 16,000 to 18,000 between 13 and 15 years old. The out of-towners think Atlanta won’t lock up or run out that many. Well, Atlanta will. If 18,000 come, 16, 000 will soon leave. The problems of runaways aren’t solved by police harassment, but this city is just not equipped to take care of a big migration of teen-agers.”

A lot of parents and policemen call The Gate about runaways, from as far away as California and Idaho. One month Bruce located 20 kids out of 90 calls. “But I don’t really have much time. I often drop by the crash-pads or apartments where hippies live when the coffeehouse closes at midnight, and some hippies come to our church service on Sunday. But the heartache is that I’m not really helping these younger kids and nobody else in Atlanta is.  A lot of them are real sharp and talk about real gutty issues, but The Gate doesn’t attract them. Young teen-agers aren’t interested in sitting around listening to folk singers. What they want is a rock house—a nice dance place. All we’d need to start one is an empty warehouse or auditorium with a jukebox and soft-drink machine. No chairs, no tables. no overhead. Psychedelic light shows maybe, and let them rock out. Young kids have a lot of stored-up tension and dancing is still the safest way they can work it off. But churches tend to back away from this fact.”

BRUCE got up to greet the red-bearded folk singer, who had walked in with a gallon jug of clear red sassafras tea hanging from each forefinger. The minister wrote him out a check for it, and they talked for a few minutes — debating whether it was anger or hate that Christ felt for the money changers when He drove them out of the temple. The bearded man said he thought what’s wrong with most Christians is “they won’t decide what they’re against and then take a public stand against it.” Bruce said, “I’m just not as much of a revolutionary as you are, but I do believe in Christian action.”

Then he was called to the phone I couldn’t help listening: “You want a real hippie or somebody who looks like one” . . . Right. The Marietta YMCA, next Sunday night. I’ll see what I can do for you.”

He hung up and grinned. “It’s gotten so part of my job is booking hippies or bearded folk singers for churches, schools and civic groups. I’m a sort of rent-a-hippie agency except I don’t get paid. If an MYF group asks for somebody to perform and tell about our ministry; I send one of The Gate’s folk singers, or an art student who puts on light shows he films himself, or this kid who makes and plays vagabond instruments. But if they want a real hippie, I go out to the crash-pads and find them one. Hippies like to talk about their thing. Besides, they’re usually hungry, and churches have good suppers. Anyway, I went to look for this certain kid a few weeks ago and he’d just cut his hair. I said, ‘Look, they want a hippie in full costume, right” What kind of impression you gonna make, man, with that short hair?’ He said he could borrow a wig. When his audience got to asking why he had long hair, he took off the wig and said, “What’s that again?’ “

ONE thing you learn at The Twelfth Gate is that it takes more than long hair or a beard to be a hippie. A folk singer said he wears one “because I happen to have a very fat face and besides it’s easier to get a singing job if you have a good growth.” A Gate waitress said some of the guys are just too lazy to shave, or want something to hide behind Roger Swanson, who looks like straight out of the Bible, has just always liked beards.image009

“I got out of the Marine Corps on Nov. 6 last year,” he said, “and Nov. 6 was the last day I shaved. At first I was very paranoid about the beard. I didn’t like being considered a hippie and it was hard to get an apartment. Some of the hippies do skip out on rent. You can’t blame the landladies. But it’s not hard to get a job with a beard, by the way—not in Atlanta, not if you do good work. I’m a carpenter’s helper. I also write poetry. I went to college for five years before the Marine Corps. But I’ve just gotten interested in this writing thing, also in photography.”

Roger often emcees at the coffeehouse – introducing the poets and folk singers, reminding patrons that the waitresses work for nothing except maybe $2 a night in tips, “so please cross their palms with silver when you say thanks and we have church here on Sunday afternoons at 12:30. Church does take the drag out of Sunday, so come on over.”

The Coffeehouse Church is called a “ministry” by the Methodist’s North Georgia Conference. It’s not a full-fledged church yet in the sense of a membership roll, but the kids are hoping it soon will be. Besides Sunday services, it has all the Methodist trappings, including a budget ($27,500 for next year), an official board and committees for finance, worship, programs and social concerns.

The social concerns committee ran a tutoring service for children in Vine City last summer. Two boys go to East Lake Methodist every Saturday to help with a recreation program for 270 colored children. Four of The Gate’s folk singers go on tour, booked for Methodist Youth Fellowship meetings and openings of church coffeehouses. The kids have now started a fellowship supper on Sunday nights, with ministers, politicians, city planners, lawyers, doctors, sociologists and other specialists who discuss the needs of the young people in the 10th Street area and help decide The gate’s best course of action.

As a result, the coffeehouse now has an employment agency and a free medical clinic.

“Our kids man the waiting room and screen all the patients,” said Bruce. “The clinic is now open every Monday and Thursday night at First Presbyterian Church with psychologists for counseling and doctors and nurses supplied by the Fulton County Medical Association. We had a clinic last summer in my office at the coffeehouse, with just one doctor, man, and we couldn’t take care of all the patients here.”

The Twelfth Gate began a year and a half ago at Grace Methodist Church, when Bruce was an assistant pastor there. It was Grace’s effort to “do something” for the non-churched young people in the downtown community.

Diane Smith, a beautiful girl with hair to her waist, had sat listening while Bruce talked. “I was one of the original weirdos who came to The Gate when it was at Grace,” she said. “In those days none of us kids worked. We talked all night and slept till 3 in the afternoon, and if you worked, you missed out, right? I got in a real bind with money. I’ve been through the starvation bit, the having-your-gas-turned-off bit, the corn-meal boiled in water, you know, with days of nothing. and then one of the boys would earn $5 singing folk songs or a girl would wait tables for a night, and then we’d buy potatoes and a cheap roast and cook it at my apartment. I’ve had a straight job for some time now and I’m out of debt.

“But back to our weirdo days. We used to wish so much,” said Diane. “that we had a nice place to go. One night somebody said a minister had opened a coffeehouse over on Charles Alien Drive.

Oh, right, a minister has opened a coffeehouse. We shrugged it off. Then a handful of us went over to see. It was just a six-room old house with no atmosphere, and the folk singers weren’t hired. Mostly they were those of us who could sing. But Bruce was marvelous. Just nice. We kept going back and taking our friends, and after the place closed at midnight, Bruce and his wife would come to our apartment and 30 or 40 of us would talk all night.

AT Grace they all assumed we were hippies on drugs, of course. I don’t say to the potheads, hey, I’m going to hate you for taking the stuff, but I don’t want to be around them. What’s so great about watching a kid on LSD giggling like a maniac while he crawls around on the floor, talking to dust, and then going wild remembering the awful things people have done to him, and getting crazy for revenge. It’s horrible and repulsive. And what’s so great about seeing a girl who has everything going for her get so messed up on drugs she loses her job and her friends and all she’s got left are hippies like herself. Last time I saw her she was under acid and could see her self down in a soft-drink can just a tiny little person down in a can.

“Anyway, at Grace they put out all this effort to get us and then they didn’t know what to do with us. The coffeehouse was so successful we were spilling out into the yard — maybe 300 kids a night, and some of the neighbors were complaining. We got the idea we were less welcome and Bruce was getting more and more criticized, right? We thought, if the kids went to church it would show the members that Bruce was doing some good, you know, so about 20 or 30 us went to a pre-Easter service last year. Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Methodists. nothings. The guys were clean and dressed up in suits and had their beards trimmed, and the girls put on dresses, right? We sat in the back, you know, and everybody was nice to us. but like we had this feeling we’d made everybody uncomfortable. Maybe the embarrassment was all on our part, but we could see them thinking if a bearded long haired type joined the church or the choir, and that TV camera zoomed in on him, people watching television would say,” Goodness, look at Grace” Right?”

“FOR just this reason.” said Bruce. “I get more and more convinced that churches need to specialize. A minister who invites everyone in the TV audience to ‘come worship with us next Sunday’ might get a shock if they all did. It wouldn’t work, not because of snobbery or prejudice or hypocrisy. but because people who look or feel different aren’t comfortable. Everybody has a label in straight society. A boy holds a cigarette in an effeminate manner, he’s called a homo. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, he’s branded all the same. A guy has a beard. He’s branded a hippie, though he may have a very straight job. A girl has her “hair long and wears levis and paints pictures, she’s a weirdo. Eggheads may be respected these days, but a boy who’d rather write poetry than play or watch football is looked upon with suspicion. And there are some young people who, let’s face it, just aren’t very attractive on the surface, though they may have a depth and sincerity and loyalty you rarely find in the typical frat house or MYF group.

“The beauty of a coffeehouse is that you can expose people of all types and backgrounds to each other. With the candle light and music and coffee they relax, open up and be come themselves. Things seem more real. They don’t have to wear masks, or pretend what they don’t believe. They share a sense of belonging, and I am absolutely convinced that the need to belong to somebody is the most basic need of human beings, more basic than the need for food or sex or creativeness.”

“The kids who came to The Twelfth Gate when it was at Grace were so hungry for deep friendships they could forget food. The strange thing that happened there was the way all of a sudden, after four or five months, without my giving them any lectures about loafing, those 30 or 40 self styled weirdos started hunting jobs. They had begun to see that life is more than having friends and talking all night, that it matters to have some reason to get up in the morning. Some cut their hair and beards some didn’t. Nearly all went to work.”

Most of them were committed Christians and felt that Christ was alive in their lives says Bruce. “but they didn’t feel they had found a way to live for others. Then the kids decided to start a coffeehouse right on 10th Street, so others cotild have the chance to find themselves—the way they had at the Grace coffeehouse. The Methodist North Georgia Conference gave me the assignment, provided we’d held regular worship services.”

So The Twelfth Gate opens its door every Sunday as The Coffeehouse Church, when they aren’t having a preach-in at Piedmont Park. The kids sit in twos and fours around the tables for the sermon—drinking their coffee and smoking their cigarettes, dressed more like guests at a costume party or a come-as-you-are than like a congregation.

The Sunday I went, what made me feel “at church” was the rapt silence, the atmosphere of spiritual seeking. All eyes fastened on the Rev. Donnelly as he talked about Christ having to hang on the cross because of people’s hang ups, or quoted a priest who once asked, “Who can look up at the crucifix and say, ‘All this you have done for me and I don’t care?”

Not many churches could advertise a Sunday service that lasts three or four hours and hope to have anybody come, but that’s the way it is at The Twelfth Gate. Always after The Word comes what they call The Word Shared— something like a bull session, something like old-time Methodist testifying.

When I was there, as soon as Bruce got through with the sermon and the final folk hymn was sung, a girl at a back table said, “I’ve sinned, and I know it, and I’ve asked God’s forgiveness, right? But maybe God is like my father. I respect my father and I love him and I’ve hurt him so much. But I just can’t tell him. I just—-” She struggled for self-control. She had arrived in Atlanta the week be fore from Massachusetts. “I mean he thinks I want some thing—food or clothes or money. What I want is his love and understanding? But he just says you’ve done what, you please—and I have—so don’t come asking me for forgive ness now.”

“I guess your dad has hang ups of his own,” somebody commented.

“I know how you feel—I’d never ask my father’s forgiveness,” said a student type in suit, white shirt and tie. “I’m sure he’d just say go to hell. Let’s face it, parents really suffer when we do wrong, and it would be the right thing to apologize, even if the apology gets thrown in your face. But it’s hard to be glad about doing the right thing if you’re crying.”

“Every time I come here,” a girl near me muttered to her friend, “we get hung-up on forgiveness and the generation gap. No matter what Bruce has talked about.”

THE next speaker was at dashing young pirate. His beard had a sort of Sir Walter Raleigh trim, he wore one gold earring, his long hair was held neatly in place with sun glasses, pushed up from the forehead, and I tried hard not to assume he was a hippie just for looking like one.

“If there is this God that’s so Almighty and can do anything,” he began, “why doesn’t He answer when I ask forgiveness? If I offend her” — he nodded to the girl beside him— “she’ll forgive me the minute I ask her to and then every thing’s all right again. God is a lot greater than she is, but all I get from Him is silence.”

He was answered by a rather small young man with a hearing aid. wire rimmed granny glasses, cowboy boots and a mild manner. He spoke calmly: “What do you expect? Is God supposed to put on a light-show in your brain or send a message fluttering down from Heaven? When you’re not feeling holy, when you’re restless and incomplete, when the day is not beautiful, when somebody smiles and you say. ‘Go away, you bother me,’ that’s what it’s like to be unforgiven and separated from God.

“God to me is love,” he said. “I know I’m forgiven when I feel turned-on to Him, holy, with no hang-ups. It’s just a total sense of peace and relief and release from guilt.”

Not all ministers think a coffeehouse like The Gate is a valid way of reaching out to those not attracted by the established church. Though many in the Methodist clergy are enthusiastic about what Bruce Donnelly is doing, at least a few doubt that it is valid even as an experiment. They think church coffeehouses are a passing fad, like the hippie thing, and too far out from “the true vine” to change any lives.

MAYBE, maybe not. The doubters should go see for themselves.

All I know is that I like the picture of 40 or 50 young people working their hearts out for a dream, most of them without any pay, and then freely giving away thousands of hard-earned dollars in the name of the Lord.

I know I was deeply moved by the folk singers at the Sun day service, impressed by the young minister’s sincerity and positively electrified when that young man told what it’s like to feel holy.

The Castle – Golden Horn










The Golden Horn – Revisited

the castlehorn





Photo by Rocky Hunter

This morning we were looking at the pictures on Rocky’s blog he took in and around the High Museum in Atlanta yesterday.


When the above house materialized Anna asked wasn’t that where I went to the Beatnik Coffee House when I was a teenager. It took me a second to refocus on it, because the front door and big window have been replaced by a double set of garage doors – but that is it!


On March 29, 2006, I wrote a blog entry on our beatnik experience in a coffee house that was there on the sidewalk level of that building and how I almost became a slab of meat in their cooler in 1959 or 1960. Back then it was called “The Golden Horn”

Is it a house, fort or castle?

Monday, December 5th, 2005

It’s all three, actually, depending on who you ask. Perched atop a hill on Fifteenth Street, just off of Peachtree Street, and facing the Woodruff Arts Center is a strange complex that puzzles each new passerby. Former Mayor Andrew Young referred to it as a “hunk of junk” and was scheduled for demolition in the 1980s until preservationists ultimately saved it. In 1989, it was designated a landmark by the city.

The “hunk of junk” was originally a retirement home for Ferdinand McMillan, Confederate veteran and co-founder of the McMillan & Avery firm, dealers in agricultural machinery. McMillan designed it himself and construction was completed in 1910. Residing with his wife and niece, McMillan dubbed it Fort Peace and lived there until his death in 1920. Viewing the interior of the house during McMillan’s stay would be interesting, but it is the exterior, still mostly intact, that is unique.

Michael Rose, in his book “Atlanta: Then and Now”(I’ve referenced this book before and if you don’t have a copy, put it on your Christmas list) notes that the house reflects the eccentricities of McMillan, built on a solid, two-story Stone Mountain granite base (judging by the capitalization, I assume that the granite for the base may come from Stone Mountain), canon openings and a Chinese turret. The house is built in the Victorian style that characterized mansions and homes in the area (most now gone) of the same period.

McMillan was a friend and one-time neighbor of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the “Uncle Remus” stories. According to, two niches in the second story façade and another niche below those contained small marble rabbits, the “Uncle Remus spring,” drinking fountain for pedestrians passing by, and other carved replicas of characters associated with Uncle Remus.

The position of the house allowed McMillan to maintain a large garden. Aside from his interest in gardening, McMillan had a great interest in inventing, according to He reportedly designed one of the region’s first cottonseed oil presses, “the suction system for gins,” as well as the sub-irrigation system for his garden. With all of the unique features, McMillan said his basic intention was “to get as high into the air as I could, and there to build me a country home in the city.”

The surrounding four homes in the area were acquired by the Art Association and eventually demolished in the 1950s and ‘60s as the museum of art complex expanded. McMillan’s dream house remained, was dubbed “The Castle” and was inhabited by the burgeoning artistic community. From the end of World War II through the 1970s, Hazel Butler Roy owned the home and opened it to the artistic community. Various individual artists and performing arts groups rented rooms, lived, worked and played in the house. There was even a restaurant inside called the Carriage Room Restaurant.

Today, the towering skyscrapers of Midtown dwarf the house. reports that AT&T plans to use the house for its Promenade project (I was unable to find specific details on this project after searching the Web. Anyone who knows more, feel free to share.). Aside from the significant architecture, The Castle remains a monument to the early Atlanta artistic community and a reminder of the four Peachtree Street homes demolished to make way for the Woodruff Arts Museum and the newly expanded High Museum of Art that we know and that it now overlooks.

Posted in Looking at the Past | 6 Comments »

kathy thompson Says:

July 7th, 2006 at 10:56 pm

What do you know about a building called “The castle” adjacent to the High Museum? I once lived in the Church’s Home next to it (1966). In 1969 I considered renting the apartment at the top and met the owner. In the end I chickened out since those who rented the studios did not spend nights there. I am saddened that it remailns abondoned.
Dr. Kathleen Thompson
Blue Ridge GA


Beatniks and The Golden Horn

Back in either 1959 or 1960 my friend Monty called me and wanted to know if I wanted to go to a Beatnik coffee house in Atlanta. “Beatnik coffee house?” I said. I wasn’t keen on going out on a school night when it was going to something I knew nothing about – in some of our misadventures back then when we went to a place we knew nothing about we suddenly had to scatter or suffer some consequences, and I was afraid this might be the case this time, and Atlanta is/was a long way away for a school night.

Neither of us knew anything about beatniks or coffee houses. From TV we figured the males were bearded, wore berets and the females had long straight hair and wore black stockings. In the coffee houses we knew from TV all they did was hang around zonked on opium or espresso coffee and recited beat poetry. The most important lure for us was that we thought the females in their black stockings were all opened minded and all for free love….. which is just what a teenage boy would want.

So Monty, I, and two more friends headed to Atlanta in Month’s mother’s Volvo PV544 on a dark foggy night.

The place we were looking for was The Golden Horn on 15th Street. We found it without any problem. The Golden Horn was located on the street level floor of an granite building that was a three story apartment building, each level above street level had a porch or patio. It was across the street from the High Museum which was also known as the Atlanta Art Museum. The museum was facing Peachtree Street, but the side of it was along side 15th Street.

Monty parked the car down the street about a block, you never know if what might happen that we would have to leave suddenly.

We went in. To the left was a table full of tasty looking cakes, and behind that was a bar that did the serving of beverages. A lean lady with long black hair and black stockings came up and asked us did we want a seat and we said we did. Yep, she was just what we expected.

The room was not that large. Maybe 10 or 15 tables in a dim lit room. On the far end was a small low stage. We sat down and expected someone to come out on stage and play some bongo drums or maybe recite poetry, or whatever beatniks do.

The people at the other tables seemed quiet, chatting among themselves. I would guess they were college students, Georgia Tech was only a few blocks away.

The dame with the long black straight hair and black stockings asked what did want and we said coffee. This is a coffee house – right? She brought back four coffees and our bill.

A man in white skin tight leotards and a unicorn head climb up on stage and music was played… it was flute music. The man with the unicorn head starting lightly dancing, at times it was like a ballet because he would leap and tip toe and piloret…. all this to classical flute music.

We were not music appreciators by any means. Any thing musical we like was on the top 40 radio stations. Our minds had not yet matured to appreciate good music or interpretive dancing.

Monty would later become a disc jockey.

Our whispering conversation went something like this: “Good god! We came all way down here to see this shit?”

“Is this a queer joint?”

“No, there is a couple of girls here.”

“How much is the bill? Lets pay and get the hell out of here!”

“Damn! It is sixteen dollars!”

“Sixteen dollars?”

“yes – that coffee must cost $4 a cup.”

“Shit! Now what?”

The thing is, we didn’t have $16 between us. We had something like $3 and some change.

So, we made plans. While we were whispering making our plans the woman brought another round of coffees and added it to the bill.

The table with the cakes were on a table, just a leap from the front door. We decided we would get up and stand over the cakes as if we were planning on which cake to pick out and run out the door the first chance we got.

All four of us got up, went over to the table and stood there looking at the cakes. The wench with the long straight hair came up to watch us. To make it look like we were dead serious on picking out a cake I put my hand out, finger extended and said, “Hmmm Lets see….”

She interrupted me by putting a sharp butcher knife up to my face and say, “Touch a cake and off goes your finger honey!”

I let out a nervous laugh.

The bitch said, “You think I’m joking!” and jabbed the knife in midair within inches of my stomach. I backed up.

She jabbed at me again and I backed up some more….. how in the heck did I find myself in this mess? I thought.

About that time the door slammed and we both looked at the door. We could see my three friends heads bobble by the window as they were running.

Now she was mad. She jabbed again and I turned around and ran. Somehow to get away from her knife tricks I found myself on the stage with the unicorn, then she joined us. People in the audience were laughing. I jumped off the stage with her behind me swiping at me.

This time the door was in front of me and she was in the back of me. I opened the door and ran out and ran down towards the car, but I was running scared and caught up with them before they reached it.

We all had a good laugh when I told them what happened and we all climbed into the car. Monty said, “I lost my wallet.”

“What did you do with it?”

“I had it out when we were counting our money. I must have dropped it on the floor.”

“Let it go, the dollar you had in there isn’t worth it.”

“I an’t leaving without my wallet. My phony driving license is in there, do you know how long it took me to draw the Seal of Georgia on that thing?”

Me: “I’m not going back in there for anything.”

We agreed the other three would go back in and demand the wallet back and I would be out side with the Volvo running, and as soon as they ran out they would hop in and away we would go – back home.

They went in and I sat in the drivers seat with the engine running, one foot on the clutch and the other foot ready to stomp down on the gas. I was the get-away driver.

They ran out laughing. Monty had his wallet, which he put in his back pocket.

“How did you get it?” I asked.

As a last second inspiration, Monty and his two companions when they entered The Golden Horn fell down to their knees and began crawling all over the room squealing like pigs. Everybody cracked up laughing, even the witch with the long straight hair and butcher knife. While crawling, Monty made a straight line to the table we were at and saw his wallet on the floor and snatched it up.

Alls wells that ends well.


I worked at the The Twelfth Gate starting in the summer of 1969 untill 1972 I think, and lived on 14th street. I was also in Daryl Roades and the HaHavishnu Orchestra from 1975-1976. I went to The Atlanta College of Art, the guy who ran The Catacombs went to the school also. I think he was called Mother David. He had a run in with one of the teachers and scared the teacher to death. He aimed a gun at him, the teacher started trying to talk him down, he shot it and out came pink flowers.There was also another coffee house called The Grand Central Cafe(something like that)on 9th St. I saw The Hampton Grease Band there for the first time in 1968. I lived in a sort of commune on 14th and then on 15th with Robin Feld, she, Ursula and I worked together after the church pulled out of The Twelfth Gate. It was exciting to see all the jazz bands come through, Elvin Jones, The Weather Report, Larry Coryell, Oregon, Macoy Tyner as well as Little Feat, Radar and The Grease Band, etc. You might want to contact Tony Garstein. He was the drummer for Radar and I’m sure he would have some pictures for you.


Electric Ballroom

The Electric Ballroom  was opened in the Georgian terrace by Alex Cooley.

The Turkey Trip was to be at the Duke Tire warehouse at 11th and Peachtree right on the Strip. As often happened, the night before the event the place was hurriedly condemned by the city. The concert was moved to the Georgian Terrace and the price was raised. Many were upset, but the music was fabulous. The Allman Brothers had just released their album and were in high form. The Hampton Grease Band was wonderfully greased. Special guests were Knowbody Else. Their lead singer kept his head down and long locks hanging as he hid beside the drummer. But his growl was like an old bluesman.  Soon after they changed their name to Black Oak Arkansas and the singer emerged with bleached hair, buff naked chest and buckskin pants to prowl the stage as Jim Dandy Mangrum.

The success of this event led to Alex Cooley opening the Electric Ballroom here.

Jim Stewart’s first entry into the Rock Music arena was his engineering/production work on the psychedelic band known as The Knowbody Else. A lucky break came when Phillip Rauls was promoting their STAX record and contacted by the management team of Iron Butterfly inquiring about an opening act for their forthcoming show coming in Memphis. As it turned-out, The Knowbody Else opened the Iron Butterfly’s show and created such a splash with the audience that Iron Butterfy’s band members became impressed and offered the local band a permanent position opening for their U.S. tour. The Knowbody Else then changed their name to Black Oak Arkansas and signed a long term contract with Atlantic Records.


richardsad2Richards opened with a bang on Atlanta’s scene. It was a sophisticated night club venue to have a rather intimate experience with a musical favorite. Unfortunately it also closed with flare.


The Great Speckled Bird Jan. 9, 1975 Vol.  #2 pg. 1 




Another music club has bitten the dust. Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes were scheduled to play at Richards December 26-28. But when they arrived in town, no one from the club could be found. Even employees who arrived for work December 26 were surprised to find… the power cut off. Several days later the ticket window was boarded up and a sign warning about Bad Dogs inside appeared across the door. After two years’ existence and amid months of rumors, Richards has finally been closed down—forced out of business.

Rich Floyd, one of the principal partners of the operation explained to the Bird the sequence of events leading to the closing of Richards. During Christmas week the club was closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (December 23-25) to give the employees a long vacation. It was also reasoned that few people would attend any shows on those days anyway. That week the bank decided to collect payment on a note and tried to get in touch with someone at the club to inform them of the move. Since no one was at the club to answer the phone, the bank went ahead and pulled the payment for the note out of Richards’ operating fund. As fate would have it, Georgia Power Company also decided to collect during this same week. No one answered the phones at the club, so fearing the worst (“Ye gods, they’ve absconded with all that rock ‘n’ roll money!”) the Power Company. yes indeed, cut the power. As co-day manager Diane Fraikin put it, when she arrived for work as usual on Thursday, December 26 to find the power shut off, “It knocked the socks right off me.”

At the time, the two principal owners were out of town for the holidays: Richard Bryan was in North Carolina and Rich Floyd was in New Jersey. When they were finally contacted, the drama of the whole incident finally unfolded: The power’s cut off? OK, pay the bill. What do you mean there’s no money? The bank did what?

So, by Friday, December 28, it was evident that Richards was indeed closed. Rich Floyd said it would take a lot of money to reopen the club. If someone had the money, wanted to operate the club under Richards name and even have Rich Floyd do the booking, Floyd said he would not be adverse to such an arrangement. But no one has really come up with the investment needed. “People don’t realize how much overhead is involved,” Floyd said. If the public thought Richards was making tremendous amounts of money, it was not considering the high fees that went to performers and the emphasis placed on obtaining and maintaining quality sound equipment. Unfortunately, some of the sound system was stolen when someone broke into the club when it was first evident that it had closed.

Richards was one of those few remaining places in town that would give local musicians a chance to play…for money. Although only the well established and better known local-based groups (few were from Atlanta; most came from other parts of the Southeast) were booked, still, it was another place for Atlantans to hear music by musicians living in Atlanta. Over the years the clubs that have supported local musicians exclusively or to a large degree have all died. In the early folkie days there were places like the Eighth Note, the Catacombs, the Bottom of the Barrel (became One-Eyed Jacks), the Bistro (still open and popular with its devoted clientele). The People’s Place in Little Five Points was community-oriented and lasted about a year; today the Common Cup in the Metanoia Building pursues a similar line of entertainment.

Funochio’s called itself “Atlanta’s Original House of Rock.” It provided live rock and roll in a club atmosphere. Although the bands were not big names, they were fairly decent bands from all over the Southeast (and Atlanta locals) who provided better music than found in the suburban rock clubs and singles apartment complex clubhouses. This didn’t exactly compare with the New York or Los Angeles rock scenes, but it was better than nothing, which had been Atlanta’s fate for so long.

Rich Floyd and Richard Bryan were in competition with Alex Cooley for the building at 10th and Monroe that had formerly been: Jenning’s Rose Room, Chuck’s Rathskeller, Bachelors III, and the never-opened Steve Major’s American Scene. The two Richards were able to acquire a liquor license, thus retaining a claim for the building from the owner (Roger Jennings). Previous clubs had had reputations for Mafia connections, going out of business through difficulty in obtaining or retaining liquor licenses.

The new club called Richards billed itself as “Atlanta’s Finest Rock Club.” The claim was not made idly, for the people involved put out tremendous efforts to make this come true. Mike Bone, former publicist for Richards (now doing PR for the GRC label) cited three reasons that contributed to .the club’s good reputation in the music business. Foremost were the conscientious people who worked there, like Johnny Terrell who would come in at 6 or 7 in the morning and work eight hours or more to get the club clean for that night’s shows. Diane Fraikin and Sims Hines were co-day managers, working beyond mere requirements of getting the job done. Terry Maxwell and Harold Dotson handled the sound system… Steve Demetrius was bar manager…there were the stage and light crews too. Not least of all were the waitresses “who took a lot of shit.” These people. came in six nights a week, putting up with all the crowds of people, noise and smoke, sitting through the same acts as part of their job to bring the best production for the audience.

Another aspect of Richards that Bone mentioned ‘ was an attitude to “take care of business in a Southern fashion.” Rich and Richard “tried to do things right” and made efforts to take care of the supporting act and the headliner, to “turn them on to the South,” like having dinner at Mrs. Hull’s. From a record company’s point of view, Richards had a good set-up for press parties. The blue room with the pool tables and Little Richards restaurant off of it were places to get away from the crowd and the band and do some-work with radio, newspaper, retail people, or what not.

The third element about Richards was that everyone seemed to notice right off when it opened . (February 1, 1973)—the quality of entertainment being offered to Atlanta in a club setting for the first time. Bone said that the first summer (’73) Richards made a lot of money for it was doing a lot of business. It seems that people just went wild having big name entertainment in a rock and roll club setting. Sometimes 400-500 people would be there on a slow week night like Tuesday. Even on the weekends a big act wasn’t needed to bring in capacity crowds (800). One of the highlights for Bone was the Soft Machine appearance, an “artsy” move for a club in Atlanta, and the first time they appeared in the city since the shared bill with Jimi Hendrix in 1968 at the Municipal Auditorium. King Crimson, Robin Trower, Ike Continued from cover and Tina Turner Revue, Tower of Power were the performances Bone remembers as much more enjoyable at close range than in a concert hall. The Marshall Tucker Band played at Richards during its first week of operation and before much attention was being given the band outside its hometown of Spartenburg, SC. One of Richards movements into the avant garde, so to speak,-was booking Iggy and the Stooges when there was no other place suitable, or that would have the nerve, as Bone put it, to do so.

But aside from rock ‘n’ roll, Richards brought to Atlanta some of the old blues greats: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and the Giant Blues Show featuring Roosevelt Sykes, Big Walter Horton, and Robert “Jr.” Lockwood. These blues performances weren’t big money makers for Richards, but the old blues men, long exploited by the white controlled music business were paid “quite well.” Many of the shows were broadcast over the college radio stations (WRAS and WREK); some were taped and used on radio stations as far away as California, but usually around the Southeast. After Funochio’s, Richards was a “step in the right direction” because of the quality of entertainment, the  big names. When Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom opened March, 1974, this was a step even further.

Back in the Spring of 1973 , when the now defunct Twelfth Gate was undergoing its second big remodeling and grand reopening, the two managers of the small club each made significant statements in a Bird interview. Robin Feld noted that with the opening of other live music clubs that served beer and wine (the Gate did not at the time) and the lowering of the drinking age to 18, much of the Gate’s young audiences began going elsewhere. Funochio’s and Richards were two of the places that were drawing the people from the Gate. But it was not so much that these places were in competition; people didn’t take seriously the notion that you must attend all these places and support them in order for them to survive. The question then is, should Atlanta be a one club town? In a seemingly contradictory statement, co-manager Ursula Alexander (now with the Great Southeast Music Hall) said at the time that similar businesses to the Gate in Atlanta were helping it out so that it would work “Because the more places there are in the city like this, the more creative the whole environment can be.” The key, of course, was cooperative efforts.

The Twelfth Gate closed its doors for good the second week of January, 1974. Funochio’s House of Rock had died somewhere in there. Richards was almost one year old then, now Richards has also closed its doors. As his first venture in night club management, Rich Floyd does not consider Richards a failure, “The way it had to close was unfortunate, but! got a lot of satisfaction from it.” The club had been suffering a bit from the economic situation and what Floyd contended to be another factor—competition for the audience with other clubs. Richards was not his only source of income and he’ll continue to produce Howard Stein’s concerts in Atlanta. It might be interesting to start a jazz club, but Floyd thinks there would be the same problem of not enough people supporting the endeavor. Something that continues to haunt him and others associated with the club was how little recognition was given to Richards by Atlanta (especially the Journal and Constitution) for its contributions to the music scene here, like “breaking” many artists into popularity in Atlanta. Yet, national trade magazines (Billboard, Cashbox, etc., even Rolling Stone) continually mentioned Richards as being responsible for making certain artists popular with Atlanta audiences.

The closing of Richards only goes to show that if Atlanta wants to consider itself a viable contender for a music center, it has got to wake up to what is right’ under its nose.