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THE ALEXANDRIA ROLLER RINK: Once THE place to catch Janis Joplin, The Doors, Rod Stewart...

Posted on May 14,2012
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,
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The Alexandria Roller Rink, which opened in 1948 and featured a hard wood floor and Wurlitzer organ, was the place to bring a date for nearly three decades
The Alexandria Roller Rink, which opened in 1948 and featured a hard wood floor and Wurlitzer organ, was the place to bring a date for nearly three decades

By John Arundel

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Decades before the legendary Birchmere Music Hall opened in Del Ray, Alexandria had a thriving music scene, which revolved around - of all places - its roller skating rink.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Oberman<br /> <br />The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ron Wood (now with the Rolling Stones) were on a bill with Janis Joplin at the Alexandria Roller Rink. A 21-year-old music journalist Joe Oberman had the good fortune to interview Beck and group after the show.<br />
Photo Courtesy of Joe Oberman
The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals
and Ron Wood (now with the Rolling Stones) were
on a bill with Janis Joplin at the Alexandria Roller
Rink. A 21-year-old music journalist Joe Oberman
 had the good fortune to interview Beck and group
after the show.

And on October 20, 1968, it was Janis Joplin headlining, with the Jeff Beck Group as opening act, with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ron Wood (now with the Rolling Stones) on the bill. Big Brother and the Holding Company joined Joplin on the stage at the performance.
 
The Alexandria Roller Rink closed its doors for good in 1986, but 42 years after the legendary show avid collector Andrew Hawley of Denver is still looking for the concert poster which announced it to area teens.

It's just a poster, but to Hawley, a serious buyer of original 1950's and 60's concert posters, it's worth $3,000 to whoever in Alexandria can locate it in their attic.

On Monday, Hawley announces his search for the original Janis Joplin concert poster, offering $3,000 to anyone who can produce one of the 200 original posters which were hung on telephone poles and in local Alexandria establishments to advertise the show.

"What really makes this poster stand out is that Jeff Beck was the backup act to Janis Joplin," Hawley said. "A year earlier at the Monterey International Pop Festival, Janis Joplin launched her career as a rock and roll star with a phenomenal performance. The crowd at the roller ring was in for a treat with Joplin accompanied by Big Brother and the Holding Company. Jeff Beck Group was the back up band behind Joplin. By all accounts, Joplin put on a great show. Since the arena/roller rink had no seating, dancing was encouraged."

The Janis Joplin 1968 concert poster which could fetch $3,000 if found.
The Janis Joplin 1968 concert poster which
could fetch $3,000 if found.

The Alexandria roller rink, also known as the Alexandria Arena, opened on November 23, 1948, at the corner of Madison and North St. Asaph streets.

Originally an affiliate of the national chain America On Wheels, the Alexandria rink had maple floors and a huge Wurlitzer organ. It was a massive structure that could accommodate 3,000 skaters at one time, and dozens of skating exhibitions and speed skating competitions were held there.

The venue was so large that it soon served other purposes. The arena functioned as a dance hall and also hosted conferences, dog shows, boxing matches and even performing horses. But beyond roller skating, the rink was best known as a concert hall.

In its earliest days Guy Lombardo and his orchestra performed there, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it became a very popular stage for rock acts. Top stars including Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper and his boa constrictor played the roller rink, which was advertised as a psychedelic ballroom or the Alexandria Rock Arena. Fans paid $4 or $5 for general admission and sat on the floor, and most bands played two shows a night.

The legendary venue holds a special place in the hearts of long-time residents as it once catered to some of biggest, most rocking bands of the 1960s and 70s: The Yardbirds, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, T. Rex, Jeff Beck, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, the Doors, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Jethro Tull all rocked the main stage.

“When the rock and roll concerts and dances started happening, it seemed like an obvious place for promoters to go in, and bring local bands as well as national acts," local music historian and filmmaker Jeff Krulik wrote.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Oberman<br /> <br />Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck were the opening act for Janis Joplin at the Alexandria Roller Rink. Here's a very young Rod warming up at that show.<br />
Photo Courtesy of Joe Oberman
Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck were the opening act for
Janis Joplin at the Alexandria Roller Rink. Here's a
very young Rod warming up at that show.

The rink was demolished in 1986, and the demolition crews did such a fine job of tearing down the old venue that not a trace of it remains; not even a plaque.

The roller rink later had financial problems and closed in 1979. It re-opened with different owners in the 1980s, but closed for good in 1986. The roller rink, which had occupied half a block, was demolished, and a new office and hotel complex was built on the site.

The poster was designed by renowned poster artist Dail W. Beeghly who used Joplin’s saucer-like smile to produce what Hawley calls "a classic boxing style concert poster."

Beeghly designed some of the more vibrant and graphically interesting concert posters in DC/Virginia area. He produced the 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience Merriweather Post Pavillion concert poster held in Columbia, MD. He also designed the 1967 Doors Washington Hilton Hotel concert poster.

Hawley, from Vintage Rock Posters, began his search for original Janis Joplin Roller Rink concert posters, years ago, but upped the ante this week. Hawley is willing to pay $3,000 cash for Janis Joplin Roller Rink boxing style concert posters or any other original 1967-1970 Joplin concert posters. He is also willing to pay up to $25,000 for an original 1956 Elvis Presley poster.

Jeff Beck, warming up for the show in Alexandria.
Jeff Beck, warming up for the show in Alexandria.

The poster measures 22 x 28 inches and was printed on thick cardboard by Creative Graphics. "It features a stunning photo of Janis bathed in a vibrant mix of blue and magenta colors," Hawley said.

Anyone who finds an original version of the poster are encouraged to call Hawley at 310-346-1965 or email andrew@vintageconcertposterbuyer.com.

A 1971 ad in the Alexandria Gazette Packet.
A 1971 ad in the Alexandria Gazette Packet.







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