The legendary Flame Show Bar opened 66 years ago today

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On this day in 1949, the Flame Show Bar (4264 John R. at Canfield in Detroit) opened its doors for the first time. The Flame was owned by Morris Wasserman.

Until its close in 1963, the Flame was the outlet for upscale black entertainment in Detroit, hosting giants like Billie Holiday, Della Reese, Etta James, Dinah Washington, B.B. King, and Joe Turner.

The venue also launched the careers of locals like Jackie Wilson, Camille Howard and LaVern Baker.

Detroit legend Maurice King led the seven-piece band; Berry Gordy, whose sisters Gwen and Anna ran the photo concession, was a networking regular.

"The whole corner was lit up by the Flame — they used to call it 'Little Las Vegas,'" band member and later Motownite Beans Bowles recalled.

And what of the legendary venue now? Why, it's a parking garage, of course.

We used Ken Coleman's book On This Day: African-American Life in Detroit for this post, FYI. 

We strongly recommend that book. 

Man, we'd have loved to see a show at this venue.

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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