Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Rockin’ With Little Richard

By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA. It was once a shrine for some of the best music in the western world and home to a restaurant that would put to shame most of the big dining names in today’s South. Atlanta’s Imperial Hotel during the late 50’s and early 60’s was home of the Domino Lounge and Dale’s Cellar, and the city really rocked.

News that the shell of the hotel built in 1911 has been saved and the interior renovated as a downtown historic preservation is reassuring. Too much of our city’s heritage has been destroyed .The Commons at Imperial Hotel will offer 90 units for Atlanta residents in need of permanent supportive housing.

Little Richard Packed The Domino Lounge
This, of course, is a far cry from the halcyon days of rock, rhythm and blues, raucous comedy, burlesque and gourmet dining, all available every evening at the Imperial. Here, I saw Little Richard, Laverne Baker, The Drifters and the pioneer of Southern comedy, Brother Dave Gardner. Who was Gardner? Lewis Grizzard and Ron White were influenced by him and some believe Gardner was funnier.

Dale’s Cellar, the namesake restaurant of Atlanta’s gourmet pioneer Joe Dale (yes, that’s his Dale’s Steak Seasoning on the grocery store shelves) served up steak with no counterpart I’ve found. It was there I was introduced to fine wines, cocktails like the Martini and Old Fashioned and each visit was a prelude to a night of music and comedy next door and the Domino Lounge.

The dance floor was packed between shows as the house band played music encouraging jitterbug to rumba. It was a place for couples and for those who liked an occasional walk on the wild side.

The reasons for the demise of the Imperial are for others to explore. The country became a little darker during the Vietnam war days and the assignations of the 60’s. Social upheaval was commonplace.

The loss of night club entertainment and elegant dining was hardly noticed.

SPRING BASEBALL IN FLORIDA. Join me with "The Boys of Summer."

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