Arlington Heights, Illinois The Cellar

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from Flickr by Cristina Bejarano CC BY 2.0

Located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, The Cellar teen dance club provided live musical entertainment in the 1960s. Founded in 1964 by Paul Sampson this music venue primarily featured Rock and Roll music acts, although some Blues acts performed as well. Original location is uncertain. "The original cellar was located in the old St. Peters Church basement." Bob Lehnert, original vocalist for The Amboy Dukes contributes that its original location was actually a cellar located just a few blocks from the center of Downtown Arlington Heights. It may have been under a church or community center as it had a stage cut out of the north wall. It was in the basement of the Bell Telephone (AT&T) building, then moved to the Tire Warehouse across the tracks from the former Captain Rapp's Restaurant (602 W. Northwest Hwy) The unused warehouse was located on Davis Street, along the Chicago and Northwestern railroad tracks . It closed in 1970.
The Cellar became a notable venue for several reasons, providing teenagers from the region with a place to congregate and to dance.
It was also notable because of its talented regional house / repeat bands, such as: the Shadows of Knight, The Mauds, H.P. Lovecraft, Saturday's Children, Ted Nugent with The Amboy Dukes, The Huns, The Raevns, The Other Half, and Little Boy Blues.
Despite the fact it was a modest warehouse venue in a northwestern suburb of Chicago, The Cellar attracted national and international Rock acts, such as: The Who, The Cream, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Spencer Davis Group, Three Dog Night, The Steve Miller Band, and the MC5 .
There are a number of notable considerations to keep in mind about The Cellar:

  • For Garage rock bands/newly forming groups, The Cellar took them out of their garages and/or rehearsal spaces and provided them with on a stage and a teenage audience eager to hear their music. Once on the stage, these Cellar groups gained regional and, in some cases (such as the Shadows), national followings. Further, it provided these local groups with the extraordinary opportunity to open for the major acts who also played there, such as H.P. Lovecraft opening for The Who on June 15, 1967.

  • The Cellar actualized one of the true tenets of Rock and Roll music: it provided a place where people could dance. Indeed, one could view the ultimate demise of true Rock and Roll music with the transition from dancing to seated venues. Once seated, fans only listened and the experience became more cerebral—which is not exactly a word one primarily associates with the vibrant physicality of Rock and Roll. Defined in its most traditional sense, Rock and Roll is sustained by movement and action. The Cellar served as an environment that allowed the essence of Rock and Roll to flourish.


At least one album has been documented as a live Cellar sound recording. The Shadows of Knight recorded the songs on this album at The Cellar in December 1966: Raw and Alive at the Cellar, Chicago, 1966!




The Cellar