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April 30, 2014

Looking Back: The Birmingham Teen Center and Palladium jump-started local bands

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By Leslie Pielack, Birmingham Historical Museum and Park

In 1965, the Teen Center was a nonprofit enterprise established at 136 Brownell — now Peabody Street — in the hopes of offering teens a place to go to enjoy music and to be together. The building formerly housed Potter Moving and Storage Co.; now, it is a parking garage.

Teens were issued membership cards for discounted admission to see bands such as the SRC, Amboy Dukes, the Rationals and the MC5. Funding was a problem, however, and public support was too weak to keep the center open.  But “Punch” Andrews, young Bob Seger’s manager, and Russ Gibb, of Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, saw an opportunity and reopened it as the Palladium, featuring the Bob Seger System as its first act in 1969.

In the next two years, the Palladium featured many big-name performers, including Big Brother and The Holding Company, Bo Diddley, Edgar Winter, Humble Pie, The James Gang Johnny Winter, Little Richard, Poco, Rod Stewart and The Faces, Savoy Brown, and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.  Despite all the effort and talent, the Palladium lost money and closed in 1971.

Be sure to check out the “Sounds of Birmingham,” an exhibit dedicated to Birmingham’s musical past, present and future, at the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park.

For more information, call (248) 496-3378 or visit www.bhamgov.org/museum.