Genuine John's

2009 - Venue

“Once upon a time there was a tavern”…..Genuine John’s, a rock club, opened in Ames on Oct. 27, 1971 with a standing-room-only crowd. The performing group was “Rural” and large crowds were to be common for the life of the club.

Genuine John’s was the “ Mecca ” venue for the territorial rock bands of the ‘70s. IRRMA Hall of Fame bands such as Rural, Enoch Smoky, Con Brio, Headstone, Pelican Peace Band and Roze played there as often as they could. Other stellar performers were: Sweet Nothin’, Dacotah, Vixen, Baby, Flock, Crackin’, Zero Ted and Catfish & Crystal. Over 80 bands in all had the privilege of playing there.

This venue was unique in that owner Steve Lange had the bands play three one-hour sets and at least one hour of the night had to be original. When word of these requirements got around, everybody who qualified tried to get a booking. Every band that played there came away with the feeling that the staging and atmosphere were different than any other place in the Midwest.

Every band wanted a return engagement! The lucky bands got four nights to play – Thursday through Saturday. Genuine John’s was in a large, old brick warehouse. It had hardwood floors, heavy exposed beams and two floors of seating area with a great balcony. The stage was 8 ft. high so everyone, upstairs or down, had a great view.

Much of the management style was modeled on Bill Graham’s pioneering efforts with Fillmore West and East: good music, good staging and respect for customers. The employees never thought of themselves as such. They were all friends – more like a rocknroll family. They understood what John’s was all about – music production and hospitality…oh, what hospitality!

Long time patrons remember Beverly Giebelstein-Larson, Marge Healy, Brad Lange and the man responsible for putting this legendary venue together – Steve Lange.

Genuine John’s closed in 1975 and the building burned down shortly after that. No one who attended a show there will ever forget. For the unique ballroom format that allowed musicians to display their original music as well as playing abilities and for making the patrons feel right at home while enjoying the music, Genuine John’s is honored with induction into the IRRMA Hall of Fame this year of 2009.

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

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