Harlem’s Apollo Theater – like many of the legends who graced its stage – needs no introduction. Within its historic walls, stars were born, made and celebrated in every musical genre that enriches Black culture. Big Band, jazz, R&B, soul, gospel, funk, rock n’ roll, reggae, calypso, hip hop – they all found a home at 253 W. 125th St. alongside the Black comics who forever changed the art of standup.
In 460 pages, one document chronicles the Apollo’s artist roster in its heyday, from its grand opening in 1934 to its final curtain under original ownership in 1977. Call it a ledger, a diary, a log – this document is a largely handwritten record of the artists who performed there, by year, month, week and day.
How many tickets did James Brown – or Ella, Dizzy, Duke, Aretha, Smokey, Redd, Moms and hundreds more – sell for each matinee and evening show? What was the weather that day? What movie played between shows? It’s all there, along with the day’s financials.
Every page offers a unique trip down Black entertainment’s memory lane.