Venue notes: O'Banion's, Chicago

Defunct punk club whose heyday was late 70s-early 80s. Frank Eck, drummer for Chicago New Wave band The Dadaistics, was a regular performer there from 1978-80. He recalls:

"O'Banion's was the second punk club to appear in Chicago (the first being Le Mer Viper, which folded around 1977 or so). Prior to being a punk club, O'Banion's was a 'rough trade' gay bar; many of the patrons and some its staff were holdovers from its previous incarnation and so were well-versed in the finer points of leather and such, which only served to enhance its already edgy atmosphere.

"The club got its name from Dion O'Banion, a 1920s gangland figure and associate of 'Bugs' Moran, Al Capone's arch-rival. O'Banion was a florist by trade and operated a flower shop in the same location that, some fifty years later, would become the punk club that bore his name. During the ongoing warfare between Capone and Moran -- culminating with the Saint Valentine's Day massacre -- O'Banion was murdered by Capone's men in his florist shop, rumored to have fallen dead in the exact spot where the bar would later be located.

"Insofar as amenities were concerned O'Banion's was, bar none, the worst place to play at. There was no stage, no PA system (bands brought their own and played on the floor), no dressing room, virtually no lighting and no one in charge of the place. Worse still, both its restrooms rarely, if ever, functioned (once someone actually crapped on the floor next to my drum kit). However, in spite of all that, I have very fond memories of the place, having played some very fun gigs there. It was also one of my regular hangouts on off nights when the Dadistics weren't performing somewhere.

"O'Banion's was located just north of downtown at the corner of Clark and Erie. On my last visit to the area (sometime in the mid-1980's) the site had become an upscale restaurant and the surrounding neighborhood — which in my era was well known for its nefarious nighttime activities — had become gentrified. Sadly O'Banion's closed sometime around 1981-2."

There's a very nice history of the club here.

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