Charlotte is no stranger to Rock & Roll fever. In 1954, Charlotte native Nappy Brown rose the charts with his hit “Don’t Be Angry.”. Another one of his songs “(Night Time) Is The Right Time” became a hit for famed artist Ray Charles. Wilbert Harrison, another Charlotte native, is well-known for his hit “Kansas City.” Maurice Williams, who also called Charlotte home, is responsible for hits including the Diamonds 1957 hit “Little Darlin” and the 1960 number one spot holder “Stay.” Beach Music pioneers and Charlotte residents, The Catalinas, were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Beach pioneers, The Catalinas at their induction ceremony for the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Photo by Daniel Coston.
Like much of the United States, Charlotte’s music scene thrived after the rise of the Beatles and the 1964 British Invasion. Local bands like the Paragons, Grifs, GBU, and August all recorded singles or albums here in the 1960s and often recorded at Arthur Smith Studios on Monroe Road. Many of these records are now collector’s items - the Paragons’ 1966 “Abba” can run you around $1,800!
Charlotte’s most famous music venue sat just off Charlottetowne Ave. Matt and Nick Karres bought the building in 1973 and turned it into a music venue called The Double Door Inn. Named after its two front doors, the Double Door was home to countless musical performances, most of them attributed to local artists. It achieved wider notoriety when Eric Clapton unexpectedly made an unannounced visit in 1982 where he performed with the Legendary Blues Band, featuring former members of the Muddy Waters band. Other legendary acts to grace the Double Door stage include, J.J. Cale, Derek Trucks, Roy Buchanan, Steve Earle, Vassar Clements, Wet Willie, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Drive-By Truckers, and many more.
The iconic doors of The Double Door Inn. Photo by Daniel Coston.
The Double Door Inn closed in 2017 as development pressures loomed, but its legacy is undeniable. In 2019, the Museum opened Unforgettable Music Venues of Charlotte, a temporary exhibit about the legacy of The Double Door Inn, Tremont Music Hall, and other venues that acted as cultural touchpoints for Charlotteans.
Opening night of Unforgettable Music Venues of Charlotte. The exhibit’s central piece was a recreation of the The Double Door’s iconic ‘stage,’ which wasn’t really a stage at all, just some open space on a low platform. Photo by Jacob Johnston.
Rock & Roll is undoubtedly a part of Charlotte’s heart and soul and we’re glad to be back out at our favorite venues, dancing to our favorite songs. For upcoming shows by local and national acts, check out Queen City Nerve’s Soundwave, which highlights live music around the city.
Have a great weekend,
UNC Charlotte Graduate Student
Summer Intern, The Charlotte Museum of History
This post is based on essays by Daniel Coston for the Charlotte 240 project, a collection of essays written by Charlotteans that explore regional history and highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. You can find the original article here & here.
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass