History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Go to Places Gone menu page Go to Main Page
The Rolling Stone Teen Club
The 1960s brought the phenomena of "teen dance clubs" to the Cleveland area. The idea was to attract young teenagers to a place where they could listen to modern music, dance, and mingle with other teens in a safe alcohol-free environment. At the same time, up-and-coming bands got the chance to perform before an audience, hone their musical skills, and introduce the songs they hoped would soon be climbing the charts.
The best remembered of these teen clubs was "Hullabaloo," named to give the impression there was a tie-in with a then popular national TV show featuring the hottest singers and rock groups. (The go-go-girls gyrating on the stage behind the performers attracted a lot of attention, too.)
There were five Hullabaloo clubs in northeast Ohio, including one on Lorain Avenue at Kamm's Corners. But there were also a lot of competitors. One of Hullabaloo's rivals was the Rolling Stone Teen Club at 16820 Brookpark Road, on the southern border of West Park, a few blocks east of the airport. It was located in a former United Auto Workers Union Hall.
Of course, the main goal of these teen spots was to make money, something the owners soon found was very hard to do in an alcohol-free club. The financial strain, combined with the built-in hassles of hosting crowds of teenagers every week and arranging for reliable young musicians to perform live, meant most teen clubs were short-lived. Many of them are nearly forgotten.
West Park's Rolling Stone Teen Club, later known as the "It's Boss Teen Club," also seemed destined for obscurity. The building no longer stands and is now a vacant lot on Brookpark Road. There seemed to be little or no in-depth information available.
Fortunately we were contacted by Louis R. Galmarini, Jr., a 1969 John Marshall High School graduate who not only worked at the club but kept a scrapbook and journal of his experiences! Using his rare collection of material and drawing on first-hand knowledge, Lou shares, in his own words, the following insider's account of the Rolling Stone Teen Club:
Rolling Stone Teen Club
Preface & Notes
By Louis R. Galmarini, Jr.
(images of advertisements provided by Louis R. Galmarini, Jr.)
Most of what is written here was taken from a scrapbook of notes which was comprised not long after the closing of the club. The scrapbook includes the history of the club’s short tenure, as seen through my 16 year old eyes, and also includes a few items from the club which are pasted in, taped or glued. The rest of this writing is from memory.
Looking through the scrapbook of notes, it’s obvious the maturity of the writing, and the literary style was of a 16 year old. However, I feel somewhat vindicated in that even with such juvenile scrawling evidenced, my young mind (somehow) possessed the realization in the importance of getting everything down in writing as soon as possible after it all transpired. (The scrapbooks’ date shows it was compiled 3 months after the club closed). This resulted in the capturing of much information and detail, including names, dates, and facts which I have extracted for this writing, and which would have otherwise been lost to time.
To date, this lost gem of yesteryear has neither sought nor solicited exposure as an historic consideration for inclusion into the annals of the History of West Park. None-the-less, (and although there is no physical evidence remaining), the club was for an apportioned period of time, and intricate part of life for hundreds, if not thousands who passed through its doors each weekend, and who’s memory no doubt, is still carried.
Hopefully, there will be others who will be able to add to what’s presented here for a more fuller understanding of the short wisp of life that was the club, and how it was experienced by those who lived it, and how it played a small part in what was to become a much larger picture, in the year of the “Summer of Love”, 1967.
The place once known as The Rolling Stone Teen Club was located at 16820 Brookpark Road, which was on the south border of Cleveland’s West Park area, and served as the venue for a dance club for teens. It was a rented building which no longer stands, but was located on the north side of Brookpark Road, just east of the Speedway gas station which sits across from the Ford plant at the intersection of Engle and Brookpark Rds., (which for years was Bi-Lo Gas), and the three overpasses. Currently, there is a small fenced in parking lot directly across from All Erection Crane Rental Company. The exact location of the brick building sat approximately 100 feet back off the road on this fenced in site.
Before being rented for use as The Rolling Teen Club, the building was formerly Ford’s UAW hall, and had been recently vacated by the UAW when they moved into the (then), newly built UAW building on Engle and Hummel Roads in the city of Brookpark. After the clubs’ demise in January of 1968, the building stood for over 20 years, until it was finally torn down in the late ‘80’s to give way as easement property for the overpasses.
The Rolling Stone / It’s Boss Teen Clubs
The days of the Rolling Stone Teen Club lived between February 1967 and January 1968. During its relatively short existence, the club actually had two lives. The first was known as The Rolling Stone Teen Club, existing from February until July 1967. Its owners were Carl Reese, a local well-known DJ for the (then) pop music radio station WJW-AM, Ed Kosla a local businessman, and Charlie Kolar, who at the time owned a majority of the Dog-n-Suds Drive-In restaurants in the Cleveland area.
In July 1967, Ed Kosla dissolved his partnership with the group, giving his share to his younger brother, Denny. Carl Reese, Charlie Kolar and Denny Kosla then took the club and transformed it into a psychedelic theme, including florescent paint, strobe and black lights, and a new name: The It’s Boss Teen Club. This was the format which continued until the club closed abruptly in January of 1968.
In 1967, there were very few places teenagers under 18 could go every weekend, and dance to a live band. The YMCA at Triskett and Lorain Rds. and the Legion Hall in Fairview Park held dances sporadically, but there was nothing offered on a regular basis. The Rolling Stone Teen Club was a welcomed sight, and fit this need well. It offered a huge dance hall, a foyer entrance, a large coat room, offices up front, and two other large back rooms. One of these was set up as a small café, with tables and chairs opposite a bar which served pop, hot dogs, chips, and the like. When the club transformed in the middle of the summer, it included the addition of a 20 ft. tunnel entrance, a performance stage with two built-in dancing platforms on either side, (where go-go dancers performed to the music), and an all new café, with new furniture, serving bar, and equipment.
It showcased both local and nationally known bands on Friday and Saturday nights, at a venue which became so popular it’s first few months, people were repeatedly turned away at the door because there wasn’t even “standing room only” left in the building. Receipts commonly showed patron numbers between 800 - 1000 per night, with weekly memberships being held by kids from places as far as Eastlake, Elyria, and Akron.
Some of us can attest that the club was an island of refuge for teens in that awkward, in-between age of being called a “kid”, and being recognized as “an adult”. It was a place where for a brief period of time, the people who came to dance there, people who worked there, and the bands who played there, all experienced a summer filled with each other, and music which held the promise of a new breed of generation being molded within themselves - music which was not only changing attitudes and life-styles, but convictions of philosophy.
Most of those who played in bands at the club have scattered unknown into time. However, a few did go on to reach some fame and fortune.
The house band at the club consisted of members who were attending Kent State University, and who were not well known outside of the local Cleveland area. This particular band metamorphed through their years of total existence, some members not lasting more than a few months. However, through the summer of 1967, and for the timeline of the clubs’ existence, the members were as follows:
Glenn Schwartz: A gifted lead guitar player, Glenn appeared a bit older than the other band members, and was possibly the only one not attending Kent State at the time. Soon after the summer of ’67, he left the band, relocating to southern California, where he founded the band PG&E, (Pacific Gas and Electric). It soon received a minimal amount of national exposure and success. Up until just a couple of years ago, he could be seen playing clubs in and around the Cleveland area with his brother, (an acoustical guitar duo).
Jim Fox: Jimmy was the founder and drummer who brought the band to its fame. After the bands’ ultimate break up, he worked for Belkin Productions for a number of years.
Joe Walsh: Almost totally unknown at the time, Joe Walsh played bass.
This house band was known as The James Gang, and would open for whatever band(s) were scheduled that night. Sometime soon after that summer in 1967, the band flew to England to cut their first national album, and (as they say), the rest is history.
Throughout that spring and summer, the club drew many national bands. Among them were Tommy James and the Shondells, The Box Tops, and Jay and the Techniques, (“Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie”, and not to be confused with Jay and the Americans).
There were also many local bands. Some were as follows:
The Blackweles: This band played regularly at the club. Members included Dan and Jim McCarthy, (cousins, I believe), who played lead and rhythm guitar respectively, and a guy named Artie Dussalt on bass. The drummers’ name escapes me at the moment, but Ray is the father to the locally well know blues singer Colin Dussault, front man of the Colin Dussault Blues Project. This band currently plays all over northeast Ohio, has a huge cult following, and regularly plays at West Park Station, (Kamms Corners), Savannah’s in Westlake, and Mona Mi’s, up near the islands. There is more history documented about Ray Dussalt and the Blackweles on Colins’ website www.colindussault.com. (On that site Click on “Pictures”).
The Poor Girls: Also made appearances at the club. As an all girl band originating out of Firestone High School in Akron, this group really got the attention of everyone. Sue Schmidt was the lead singer and guitarist, Pam Johnson on rhythm guitar and vocals, Debbie Smith on bass and vocals, and Esta Kerr drums and vocals. Also, see entry in Cleveland's Rock and Roll Roots by Deanna R. Adams and the entry in Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories by Carlo Wolff.
The Choir: Another well known local band that played at the club, and who made an appearance after reaching national exposure with its one-off recording of “It’s Cold Outside”.
ConclusionUnfortunately, because the club catered to the under 18 crowd, (no alcohol), its life was relatively short, and went to the wayside. In those early years, entrepreneurs who took on such ventures soon realized there was no real money to be made, and cut their losses early on. Even