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Great to hear from you. Yes I owned Big 7 After Hours along with my 2 partners Mike Metko who you mentioned and Jim Musil Jr whose dad Jim Sr built and owned JD’s in Tempe where Waylon Jennings became famous. Jim Jr took over JD’s after his dad passed.He also recorded Waylon’s first live album from JD’s
Most people just called it and knew it as “After Hours” but the name we put on all the flyers/leaflets we put out and the free black/gold match books was “Big 7 After Hours”. We sure packed'em in that place. It was the only “After Hours” in Phoenix at the time except for a very small place in south Phoenix called “The Ebony Door”, which was mostly black people and a few of us “whiteys” who they tolerated.
B7AF was in between Sombrero Playhouse and the Islands restaurant. you entered from 7 St and drove east down a long driveway on the right side a vacant lot to a large parking lot. …The B7AF building was to the far left as you entered the parking lot from the far right. It was a warehouse we renovated into our after hours club. There was a large dark blue sign with “After Hours” in silver sparkle and some silver sparkle stars with a spotlight shinning on it so the copy and stars glittered or sparkled.
Yes you remember all those things correctly. The canal was to the back/rear of the club and the parking lot. Mike Metko’s group was our house band with bands from all over the valley setting in. We even had The Righteous Bros(Bobbie and Bill), Jan and Dean and many others from Stage 7 set in.
Yes the bandstand was located on the back/rear wall with burlap wall curtains behind bandstand. Curtains were 4ft wide red and yellow alternating stripes from ceiling to floor and all the way from left wall to right wall. You entered the club from door in middle. there was a snack bar to the far left where we sold coke, seven up, orange pop, coffee, hot steamed tamales and chile dogs. Restrooms were also to the far left behind or next to snack bar. Tables with red table cloths and alternating red and yellow glass candle containers lined both sides of the club with a few tables connecting both sides of table rows close to club entrance,4 chairs per table. The very large rectangular dance floor was of course in the middle. We had 3 Phoenix police officers Chuck S, Bob S, Bernie T (motorcycle cops) in full police uniform out front to make sure everything remained peaceful and everybody felt safe.
I spent a lot of time in the “Night Life”. Yes Phoenix had some great blues clubs and the music and dancing was fantastic. Also spent a lot of time in “Char’s Has The Blues” I’m trying to remember “Frenchy”(Karen)…. do you have red hair?
You’re right Frenchy …… really great memories
Yes I’m happy in Thailand, thanks for asking
Really great to hear from you
Let’s stay in touch …
My names Carl Kennedy. I lived in Phoenix for 46 years.
1960 to 2006…….I left at 68 years old to live in Thailand,
where I am now
I was Advertising/Promotion Director
KPHO TV Ch5 for several years. Acct exec
for various ad agency’s. Sales Mgr for several
graphic firms. Bartended in many clubs. Was
head bartender At JD’s the double decker night
club in Tempe where Waylon Jennings recorded
his first live album and became famous. Ricky
Nelson, Everly Bros etc played there to packed
houses, 750+ upstairs, 350+ downstairs. Owned
a bar. Owned the first after hours club in Phoenix.
Did and saw a lot in Phoenix’s growth years
The Sombrero was not at 7st and Highland.
Camelback Rd Going south you have
Big 7 After Hours (I owned it)
Islands Retaurant (4839 7st)
Char’s has the Blues (4631 N 7St)
(NE corner Coolidge)
Sombrero was many things to many people
Excellent movies, plays etc in it’s heyday
Got to be a hangout for social wannabe’s
Just a great great place with lots of nostalgic
There was no bridge between Sombrero and
the Islands Rest. Just plain old cement side walk
The bridge they are remembering was the
entrance to the Islands Rest. There was a fake
moat, water and all (approx 10/12 ft wide) in front
of the Islands with lots of tropical folaige on both
sides. The bridge spanned this neat moat and you
had to walk across it to enter/exit the rest. Inside
was all beautiful bamboo walls, tabels chairs, bar
walking ramps etc and carpet in all the right places
Yes Rusty Warren did appear there many times but
the big draw was “The Ricardo Lemus Trio” piano,
bass and drums, Ricardo was on the drums. He did
a drum routine twice a night that featured him with
reverb(echo) effect electronically attached to his
drums. When he hit drums the beat would echo quite
a bit while fading away. It was fascinating to hear and
watch. The crowd went wild. The rest owner was “Mr
White” who quite often got drunk in rest and was
hustled away by the Mgr “Jimmey” who was a very
handsome Asian getleman who dressed impeccably
in dark suites mostly black sharkskin, white shirt and
a beautiful white silk tie. He ran that place like a well
oiled clock. I worked there for quite a while. was called
assisstant Maitre’d. Just a glorified name for host. I
greeted people in the anteroom/entrance which was
also where the cashier was and the exit. Also where
all the polynesian mugs, cups, nik naks etc were sold
People waited for their table also when bar was full.
In it’s heyday reservations was a must. Once you left
anteroom and headed for your table you walked down
a ramp into the sunken dinning area which you entered
at the far right and all tables to the left. On the complete
left wall was a beatiful tropical garden setting complete
with waterfall. Running gurgling water sounds were
subtly piped into the whole place just loud enough to
sound genuine but not loud enough to tell it was
electronic. The bar on the same level as anteroom was
to the left and also had several tables and chairs some
chairs being the beautiful hi-backed Queens chairs. In
back of the bar was an electronically lit (lights etc) 3D
topographical display layout of Phoenix and Valley of
the Sun. Camelback Mtn, Sky Harbor AP etc
Another story about Islands. A very quiet but effeciant
oriental waiter named Henry worked there for years.
Had people who would not dine unless he was their
waiter. Lived on the rest. grounds, little small units
in back of parking lot. Rumored to have only 3 pair
of under wear and 2 sets of waiter attire. He washed
all every night and rotated them daily. Never went
anywhere. Saved all his tips and lived like a hermit.
Some people joked about his existance, some pitied
him. When he left it was found he owned a couple
blocks of RE in downtown LA and lived like a king
the rest of his life.
Phew….. that was long huh!
If anybody would like to hear about JD’s and Waylon
let me know an I’ll post. Will keep it short