Smoky, Sweaty, Rowdy, and Loud

Tales of Cleveland's Legendary Rock & Roll Landmarks

Mike & Janice Olszewski


These stories go backstage at legendary Cleveland rock music venues of the 1950s to ’90s—clubs like the Agora and the Phantasy; halls like Public Auditorium and the Cleveland Arena; bars like the Euclid Tavern and Leo’s Casino; haunts like Swingo’s; the cavernous Municipal Stadium—and more. Told by and about the people who worked and rocked there.

Softcover / 208 pages / 5.5 x 8.5 / 20 photos

ISBN: 9781598511048


Let’s head backstage as Cleveland club owners, talent bookers, performers, promoters, and concertgoers share stories from the 1950s through 1990s about the region’s most notable rock music venues, including . . .

  • Where it all began: the Cleveland Arena, site of the first-ever rock concert, anywhere.
  • The hugely influential Agora, where Springsteen and so many other acts burst onto the scene
  • The Coliseum at Richfield, erected in the middle of nowhere just in time for the arrival of arena rock.
  • Monster concerts at Cleveland Municipal Stadium—including the epic, multi-year World Series of Rock.
  • Groundbreaking R&B clubs Gleason’s and Leo’s Casino.
  • Staid, classical Public Auditorium, where the Beatles incited a riot and Led Zeppelin grabbed a teenage audience volunteer to fill in on bass
  • Musicarnival, the circular big-top tent that alternated summer-stock with hard-rock (to the dismay of suburban neighbors).
  • Bars and clubs like the Euclid Tavern, Variety Theater, and Empire Concert Club that rocked the ’80s and ’90s with punk, thrash, electronica—whatever it took.
  • The renowned Swingos’ celebrity hotel on Euclid Avenue, where bands remembered checking in and checking out—but nothing in-between!
  • And other classic venues well worth remembering.

Additional information

Weight0.694 lbs
Dimensions8.5 × 0.5 × 5.5 in

Softcover, Softcover (Autographed)

Table of Contents

The Cleveland Arena

Record Rendezvous

Leo’s Casino

La Cave

The Coliseum at Richfield


Gleason’s Musical Bar

The Agora

Cleveland Municipal Stadium

Smiling Dog Saloon


Euclid Tavern

Cleveland Public Auditorium

Phantasy Nite Club and Theater

Variety Theatre

Wilbert’s Food & Music

Empire Concert Club

Amusement Parks




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