Buckley & The Grande
the turbulent summer of July, 1967, folksinger and Elektra
recording artist Tim Buckley was booked to play Detroit's
Grande Ballroom, run by "Uncle" Russ Gibb. Back in the day,
it was not uncommon for musicians to accept Gibb's invitation
to stay at his place while in town. So it was that Buckley
and his Afro-American drummer, Carter Collins, found themselves
at a Sunday picnic organized by their host and held at Kensington
Metropolitan Park (to the northwest of Detroit along I-96).
from their day outing, the three surprisingly found the streets
blocked when they got to the intersection of Greenfield Road
and Grand River Avenue. It was then that the police informed
them that parts of the city were in flames, that it was unsafe
to proceed past the boundary at Eight Mile Road that had been
established by the National Guard.
crap," Buckley and Collins exclaimed, "We need to fetch our
gear from the Grande!" All three knew that the venue was located
near ground-zero and could possibly be torched. Collins had
stashed his drum kit there, while Buckley had left a few priceless
guitars. Russ being the local, he circuitously navigated his
Thunderbird first through the white neighborhoods, then on
into those which were primarily black. At this point Collins
took the wheel, with Buckley and Gibb crouched down very low
between the front and rear seats.
approaching the Grande, Collins flagged down a young black
kid and葉he ballroom being unscathed amongst the flames everywhere
else用ointed to the Grande. "Hey, man...what's going down?
How come that place still standin'?" The young boy replied,
"Oh, dey got MU-sic dere."
it was that the Grande Ballroom揺aving hosted such acts as
Muddy Waters, Albert King, (Detroit's own) John Lee Hooker,
Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the James Cotton Blues
Band, and the Chambers Brothers容scaped the infamous '67 riots.
It was a regular protocol様ong established by Gibb葉o let
the local black kids in for free. He had figured that if they
were inside enjoying themselves, they weren't outside breaking
into patrons' cars and/or accosting concert-goers outside
As told to Chris Morton by "Uncle"
Copyright © 2009 Published on Chris' Floydian
Slips music blog
rights reserved. Used with permission