The image above is of the sleepy-looking beachside town called Hallandale, Florida and gives no indication of the city's Black musical history. But the Palms in Hallandale, just north of Miami, otherwise known as the Million Dollar Palms, was a major stop on the Chitlin Circuit, a nationwide string of venues where it was safe for African-Americans to perform and experience live music during segregation. After the jump, check out the top 10 moments in black music history that happened at the Palms.
Click each title for the full source.
This Billboard magazine article from April 1960 talks about the influence of Miami radio on the Caribbean market specifically as it applied Palms owner Ernie Busker booking American R&B acts in the Bahamas. This mashup was integral to the birth of the modern Caribbean musical landscape.
Peter Guralnick's excellent musical biography of Sam Cooke (Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke) refers to Sam Cooke's shows at The Palms, its past as a drive-in movie theater, its outdoor barbecue, and 106 foot bar. Sam Cooke had been touring the states since he was a kid on the gospel circuit. Cooke, like Ray Charles before him, took American gospel music and made it accessible for a worldwide audience.
Jerry Butler from The Impressions says The Palms was looked upon as the premiere black club in the area outside of the Sir John Hotel. Butler is referring to the Sir John Knightbeat in Miami's Overtown, another South Florida musical landmark.
Kitty Oliver, author of Race and Change in Hollywood, Florida says that "Tri-county black people knew about The Palms in Hallandale." But The Palms wasn't only famous in Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach, it was known by all the big artists on the national circuit, including Jackie Wilson who "Used to be there all the time."
James Brown first rocked The Palms sometime in the mid to late 50's thanks to American Recording legend, and South Florida homeboy, Henry Stone, who got him a show at the club in his early years off the strength of the record "Please, Please, Please." He really was the Hardest Working Man and led an insane touring schedule. The Palms was one of his many homes.
Robert Lockwood Jr., the famous step son of the infamous Robert Johnson says "I played the Million Dollar Palm in Hallandale, Florida with Eddie Boyd. That was the first time I ever saw somebody shoot hisself with heroin. The man had blood all over the bathroom floor trying to find a vein - a trumpet player, a good musician."
In reference to the song Try Me: "James found the song in Florida while he was working the Palms in Hallandale," Bobby Byrd told interviewer Cliff White. "I'm pretty sure it was really written by some other guy who just gave it away to James to record; either that or James developed it out of something he heard down there."
Guitar Slim is legendary for his extreme showmanship at performances that might see him leave the club and dance across car roofs while playing his guitar through a 200 foot cable into the house amp without missing a beat.
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Etta James tells an incredible story of how an agressive broad named Titty Tassel Toni got into a fight with Marvin Gaye after they landed on top of each other in a mud puddle into which they were pushed. Etta opens the story by explaining that they may have got it on a couple times, but Titty Tassel Toni was maybe upset that Marvin Gaye wouldn't give her oral sex.