New Exhibit Tells the Story of Famed ‘First Avenue’
MINNEAPOLIS -- The iconic Minneapolis music venue First Avenue is the subject of a new exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.
The building dates back to 1937 when it opened as a Greyhound Bus Depot. It transitioned into a music club called "The Depot" in April of 1970.
Exhibit Developer Erin Cole says the very first performer on the stage was legendary singer Joe Cocker.
One of the things that's really great about that concert is that Cocker had a documentary crew following him around the country filming that tour, and so they filmed the performance at The Depot that night and we actually have a clip of that.
The venue changed hands, and names, several times throughout the 1970s. Cole says for most of the 70s it was a disco.
It was actually a corporate disco. There was this organization called American Events and they opened up this chain of patriotic-themed discos called "Uncle Sam's" in locations around the country, usually in the Midwest.
The club returned to live music as a focus in 1979 booking acts like The Ramones and Pat Benatar. Cole says Prince made his first appearance there in March of 1981. In December of that year, the club changed its name one last time to First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. Prince recorded a live concert at First Avenue in August of 1983.
"First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota's Mainroom" opens this Saturday at the Minnesota History Center. It will be on display for a year.