January 19, 2018

Club Imperial in St. Louis in Its Heyday [PHOTOS]

Club Imperial has been closed for years -- and faces a request for demolition, now pending at the city's Historic Preservation Board. But back in the day, it was the place to be in St. Louis. George Edick's club at West Florissant and Goodfellow helped launch Ike and Tina -- and also may have unwittingly help to integrate St. Louis' music scene. As Ike Turner recalled to the RFT in 2001, "St. Louis was kind of prejudiced then, man. But kids, they didn't care nothing about race. They were just into music. At that time, George Edick's didn't have blacks there, and over in East St. Louis at Club Manhattan, they didn't have whites. So what I started doing, man, was, I stopped playing any black club that wouldn't allow whites and any white club that wouldn't allow blacks. The dollars don't have no color, so the club owners started letting everybody get in there." Check out these amazing photos of Club Imperial during its heyday. All photos courtesy of the Metro St. Louis Live Music Historical Society via imperialswing.com and Greg Edick. Used with permission. For more info about the building's precarious status today, see our January 19 story.

Club Imperial has been closed for years -- and faces a request for demolition, now pending at the city's Historic Preservation Board. But back in the day, it was the place to be in St. Louis. George Edick's club at West Florissant and Goodfellow helped launch Ike and Tina -- and also may have unwittingly help to integrate St. Louis' music scene.

As Ike Turner recalled to the RFT in 2001, "St. Louis was kind of prejudiced then, man. But kids, they didn't care nothing about race. They were just into music. At that time, George Edick's didn't have blacks there, and over in East St. Louis at Club Manhattan, they didn't have whites. So what I started doing, man, was, I stopped playing any black club that wouldn't allow whites and any white club that wouldn't allow blacks. The dollars don't have no color, so the club owners started letting everybody get in there."

Check out these amazing photos of Club Imperial during its heyday. All photos courtesy of the Metro St. Louis Live Music Historical Society via imperialswing.com and Greg Edick. Used with permission. For more info about the building's precarious status today, see our January 19 story.

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Turner and his band.
Turner and his band.
Crowds line up outside Club Imperial.
Crowds line up outside Club Imperial.
Ike Turner was Mississippi born, but found a regular St. Louis stop at Club Imperial.
Ike Turner was Mississippi born, but found a regular St. Louis stop at Club Imperial.
The club during its glory years.
The club during its glory years.
More Turner.
More Turner.
The club advertises an Ike and Tina show.
The club advertises an Ike and Tina show.
Ike and Tina's shows are now St. Louis legend.
Ike and Tina's shows are now St. Louis legend.
When Ike and Tina first recorded "A Fool in Love," Club Imperial was the first place Ike took the recording.
When Ike and Tina first recorded "A Fool in Love," Club Imperial was the first place Ike took the recording.
Ike and Tina weren't the only big names, of course. Billy Joe Royal, Jim Brown, Bob Kuban, Jonnie King and Gary Lewis at Club Imperial on April 18, 1966
Ike and Tina weren't the only big names, of course. Billy Joe Royal, Jim Brown, Bob Kuban, Jonnie King and Gary Lewis at Club Imperial on April 18, 1966
By 2013 the building was sold at a tax sale to former Rams tackle Orlando Pace.
By 2013 the building was sold at a tax sale to former Rams tackle Orlando Pace.