R.I.P. Mississippi Nights

The lights go out at a fabled club — but only after one hell of a party.

— Ken Krueger, Big Fun

"There was the time in 1979 when Roxy Music was booked at Kiel Opera House. Due to 'circumstances' (i.e. ticket sales, no doubt) the show was moved to Mississippi Nights. Thing is, in 1979, Mississippi Nights had no provisions for underagers. One female ticket holder was so infuriated that she sued the promoter for selling her a ticket to an event that it turned out she could not attend. She remains an unsung hero of mine."

Unconscious members Mike Apirion, Darren O'Brien and 
John Taylor from their later Black Sand Hand days.
Unconscious members Mike Apirion, Darren O'Brien and John Taylor from their later Black Sand Hand days.
The Eyes were a Mississippi Nights fave as Pale Divine, too.
The Eyes were a Mississippi Nights fave as Pale Divine, too.


See also the accompanying story, The Final Jam.

— Steve Carosello, Love Experts

"I remember Mississippi Nights as the symbol of 'The Landing' as opposed to 'The Loop,' when the Landing was where cover bands made good money playing songs they didn't write to people trying to get laid, while the Loop was where indie rockers (like my band, Enormous Richard) played their own hard-earned songs for pennies (also, for the most part, to people trying to get laid, but at least looking a little more individual — and supporting local artists while doing it). Because of its spaciousness, and the relative unpopularity of the early St. Louis indie-rock bands like mine, Mississippi Nights never took on any such-like mythic proportions in my mind or soul. Cicero's was our crucible; it was our home. Mississippi Nights was just a big room that booked cover bands and national acts. I mourn the old Cicero's — and to some extent the Hi-Pointe and Frederick's — but Mississippi Nights (for all the great touring bands that it hosted over the years) lives in my memory as the big drunk frat guy who wants you to play 'Freebird.'"

— Chris King, Enormous Richard

"It was November or December (I remember it was cold because we had no heat in our rehearsal space, a bombed-out storefront on Gravois). As soon as we heard the Ramones were coming to town, we put in our bid to be the opening band. Pat [Hagin, talent buyer]/Rich [Frame, co-owner] said the Ramones were touring with an opening act and thanks, but not needed.

"Move to night before. About 12:30 a.m. Pat Hagin calls and wants to know if we still want to open for the Ramones. All of my being wanted to just say yes, but I had to say, 'Let me talk to the guys in the morning and get back to you' (my heart was sinking thinking Hagin's not going to wait, he's going to find someone else). First thing in the a.m., probably too early, I got ahold of the rest of the band. We meet up way too early and way too cold and run through a 45-minute set to see if we could pull it off. It was a go, and after a nerve-wrenching wait before Rich or Pat answered the phone, the gig was on.

"The Ramones roadies were awesome! They not only set up our gear onstage, they asked us how we wanted our stage set up. They let us run through a full soundcheck and were just great guys to a lowly little local band. The gig came off without a hitch and the whole thing was over way too soon. The other members of the Retros went over to the hotel with the Ramones and did some pinball and hanging out. I got to drive the equipment truck home.

"The Ramones and their organization (and it was quite an impressive organization) have my eternal respect. They treated us as respectfully as they treated their own. I honor Pat Hagin and Rich Frame for letting me get away with the audacity of saying maybe to a golden opportunity and then still holding the door open for us. A lot of fond and unique memories will be buried at that building site. They took chances when no one else was willing, and it paid off. Mississippi Nights will always be remembered as a foundation cornerstone in the St. Louis music scene."

— Bob Chekoudjian, The Retros

"When Rob Wagoner and I were in our first band, White Suburban Youth, that later morphed into Ultraman, [Wagoner] predicted that one day we would play Mississippi Nights. It was a definite lofty goal, considering we had never played a show, and one year later we did play there opening for M.I.A. from L.A. in August of 1984. Pat Hagin paid us $50. I'm not sure what to say about what kind of impact it had on me, but it sure built up the presence of Ultraman, even if we only opened for someone once a year. It sort of made you seem bigger than you actually were in real life — like, 'They must be good, they played the Nights.' Ultraman played the Nights first in the spring of 1987 with Suicidal Tendencies, Exploited in March of 1988, Dead Milkmen in February 1989 (just after recording our first album in NYC, so we thought we were something else)."

— Tim Jamison, Ultraman

"Local bands would play there on the weekends. It was a different time, a different economy. People would go out, the Landing was filled with people. We would play for a long time — the idea was, the crowd would turn over two or three times in an evening. That's how they made their money. The first set was really tough. By the end of the night, it was a big rock show. it took a lot of endurance. The river was so close, that's sort of legendary to people traveling through the Midwest. I remember stepping out the back door on set breaks, trying to get a little mojo out from the river.

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