Hey Nonny to present History of The Cellar Teen Club

  • The Who's Roger Daltrey and Buffalo Springfield at former Arlington Heights music venue, The Cellar.

    The Who's Roger Daltrey and Buffalo Springfield at former Arlington Heights music venue, The Cellar.

Updated 3/27/2023 2:37 PM

Music fans are currently plotting their summer schedules, hoping to see the biggest names in music at top venues around Chicago. In the late 1960s the world's best rock acts, including The Who, Eric Clapton and Cream, Bob Seger, Buffalo Springfield, Steppenwolf and Van Morrison, could all be seen, not in the city, but in Arlington Heights at the teen club The Cellar.

On April 25 and 26, and again on June 14, Hey Nonny, a vibrant music venue in Arlington Heights, will present a special show about The Cellar's history entitled, "The Cellar: Arlington Heights' Cultural Zenith." The show, created by Hey Nonny co-owner Chip Brooks, will feature stories, recordings from The Cellar, video clips, interviews, old pictures and handbills and a live band of young rockers who will perform songs played at The Cellar.


"The Cellar was the prototype for teen clubs all over Chicago - the most ambitious and successful," said Brooks.

Not only was The Cellar a stop for big touring bands, but it also helped develop dozens of Chicago bands into national stars, beginning with The Cellar's first house band, the Shadows of Knight. Band members were recent Prospect High graduates when they recorded "Gloria," which by the spring of 1966 was a top 10 hit nationwide.

"Paul Sampson, the creator of The Cellar, did an amazing job nurturing Chicago area bands that eventually had national hits, including the Cryan' Shames, the Ides of March, the Buckinghams, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, the Shadows of Knight, and the New Colony Six," said Brooks. "The stories of how The Cellar started, how it succeeded, and why it ended are all amazing and we hope to bring that all back to life with this event."

Brooks is hoping that, in connection with these history shows, there can be some more permanent efforts to remember The Cellar.

"The Cellar was our town's cultural highpoint," said Brooks. "Never before, and never since, has Arlington Heights hosted so many acts that were at the cutting edge of national popular culture."

Brooks plans to engage village leaders and other organizations in town to honor Sampson and The Cellar, but the work does not stop there. He notes that a number of people have come forward with memorabilia from The Cellar and he's hoping a local group will step forward to collect and curate the materials.

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"Back in 1966, students at our three local high schools petitioned the village to create a sculpture or fountain to memorialize The Cellar and the Shadows of Knight's national success," said Brooks. "They got turned down, but it is still a great idea 57 years later."

To that end, Brooks also hopes to find support by forming a foundation to fund a public sculpture in downtown Arlington Heights to commemorate The Cellar.

Tickets to the April 25 and 26 show are nearly sold out, but the June 14 show is just now going on sale and seats are still available at www.heynonny.com.

Hey Nonny is a bistro and music venue located in the heart of downtown Arlington Heights. The bistro, helmed by Chef Noe, serves an array of fresh seasonal Midwestern comfort-food-with-a-twist and a seasonally changing menu. The music venue is one of the best new "listening rooms" in the country, and hosts live music six days a week, featuring the best Chicago and touring acts playing jazz, blues, country, folk, and rock.

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