Collection of Grande Ballroom Concert postcards and fliers Edit


MSS 436 small


  • 1967-1968, undated (Creation)


  • .1 Linear Feet (Whole)
    1 folder.

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  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Material in this collection is in the public domain.

  • Preferred Citation

    Item, Folder number and/or title, Box number, Collection of Grande Ballroom Concert postcards and fliers, MSS 436, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Source of acquisition unknown.

  • Processing Information

    This collection was processed by Leslie Behm in June 2015.

  • Biographical / Historical

    Edward J. Strata and his partner Edward J. Davis had Charles N. Agree design the Grande Ballroom in 1928. It started as a mixed space building with storefront space on the first floor and a ballroom on the second floor. The building was designed in Moorish Deco style. The ballroom had Moorish arches and a floor on springs to give a feeling of floating for the dancers. It was located at the corner of Grand River and Joy Streets in a neighborhood that in the 1930s and 1940 was predominately a Jewish enclave. Through the years the ballroom featured music that mirrored American society at the time (jazz, ballroom dancing, and big bands).

    Mr. and Mrs. John T. Hayes took over the Grande in 1955 and tried to revive it to mirror its glory years, but with changes in music and society, it did not last very long. By 1961, it was the only venue in the city with any semblance to what ballroom dancing had been. The Hayes’ reluctance to change eventually led to the Grande closing, and for a while it was a roller-skating rink and then a mattress storage facility.

    A Maples Junior High School social studies teacher and local DJ, Russ Gibbs, took a trip to San Francisco in 1966. He saw The Byrds at the Fillmore Auditorium. He wanted to bring its equivalent to Detroit. After looking at a number venues in Detroit Russ Gibbs entered a rent-to-buy agreement with the Kleinman family.

    Gibbs, Uncle Russ as he became known, modeled the Grande after the Fillmore and other similar venues from the West Coast. Band would be able to write their own material and have their own identity. There would be no cover band or bar band. The Grande opened on October 7, 1966 to about 160 people who listened to Chosen Few and MC5.

    The MC5 became the basically the house band, the anchor, for the Grande playing at least once a week. Through the lead singer, Gibbs met Gary Grimshaw, who became legendary for the concert posters, handbills, and postcards he created to promote the shows.

    John Sinclair took on the role of manager for the Detroit rock band MC5. In 1968, while still working with the band, he conspicuously served as a founding member of the White Panther Party, a militantly anti-racist socialist group and counterpart of the Black Panthers.

    Gradually there was a shift to national bands and the Grande took off from there. Some of the bands that came to play at the Grande included The Bryds, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Country Joe and the Fish, The Who, and Iggy Pop. The Bryds premiered their rock opera Tommy to a Detroit crowd in May of 1969. Gibbs marketed the Grande as a great stopping point for bands (especially British ones) between the East Coast and the West Coast.

    The final show was New Year’s Eve 1972. Russ Gibbs had become tired of the changes in the music industry where contracts had been one page. Now contracts had stipulations on who could be on stage, what hotels the band would stay at and many other demands. Unfortunately once the shows were gone, the building has languished empty since 1972.

  • Scope and Contents

    This collection consists 21 postcards and fliers from concerts held at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit, Michigan between 1967 and 1968. The majority of the postcards were designed by Gary Grimshaw or Carl Lundgren, with one by Bonnie Green, and one by Donnie Dope also included. Psycholdelic in nature, the graphics are very colorful and include images of band members.

    The bands represented are Air Speed Inidicator, Apostles, Ashmollyan Quintet, Beacon Street Union, Blue Cheer, Born Blues, Buddy Guy, Buffy, Buffy Road Phenomena, Butterfield Blues Band, Byrds, Canned Heat, Carousel, Charging Rhinocerous of Soul, Children, Clear Light, Cream, Deep Purple, East Side Orphans, Electric Prunes, Fever Tree, Fox, Frost, Fruit of the Loom, Gipsy Blue, Hawk, Hooley, Influence, Iron Butterfly, Jagged Edge, James Cotton, James Cotton Blues Band, James Gang, Junior Wells, Lee Michaels, March Brothers, MC5, Muff, Nature's Children, New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, Nichel Plate Express, Nirvana, Odds and Ends, Paupers, Peace & Love (not a postcard, nor an advertisement for a concert), Poor Richard's Almanac, Procul Harum, Psychedelic Stooges, Rain, Rationals, Scot Richard Case, Soap, Soul Remains, Spirit, SRC, St. Louis Union, Steve Miller Band, Steve Miller Blues Band, Stuart Avery Assembly, The Case of R.T., The Who, Thyme, Tiers, Tiffany Shade, Troggs, Up, Vanilla Fudge, and Wilson Mower Pursuit.

  • Arrangement

    This collection is arranged chronologically.

  • Language of Materials

    The material is in English.