The CC Club: An oral history

The iconic bar's owners, famous patrons, and hometown regulars remember the dive's best moments

Check out our behind the scenes look at the CC Club

Paul Metsa, musician and author of Blue Guitar Highway: It was kind of like this exotic mixture between rock 'n' roll, comedians, entertainers, and then just hipsters that worked in the neighborhood. A lot of writers and artists hung out there. And what I loved about it, it was very working-class, and still is. Everybody was equal in that place.

Bob Stinson said something, and I'm going to paraphrase, he said, "All the great bands in Minneapolis live between Franklin and Lake and Lyndale and Hennepin." In a way, that area was four-cornered by these bars. There was Mortimer's and Lyle's on the north end, and then there was the CC. And then up to the Uptown. And those were kind of the four corners.

Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.

David Carr, New York Times columnist and Night of the Gun author: Restaurant people, dope dealers, music people, neighborhood kids. I mean, the people that on another night you would see as rock gods would drink there, and drink there happily.

It was a really great place to get hammered. And you were neither judged by the staff nor the patrons for enjoying an adult beverage. You could enjoy as many of them as you wanted, and if they happened to have some effects on you — the only thing you couldn't do is be an asshole.

Almstead: Tom Arnold used to live across the street, and that's a whole other story, and comedians and cocaine. Party party party. I know they would just go over to the CC and then go back to their house. Gosh, I met Richard Lewis there, not to mention Roseanne.

Carr: Tom Arnold lived across from the CC. And there were some rather festive parties, I can recall afterward, including the first time Roseanne was in town. I think the finishing party was the CC to Tom's house, and for reasons that are lost to the mist of time, a pizza was nailed to the wall. Not sure why. You'd think usually a pizza in the presence of Tom Arnold would not be safe. This one ended up nailed to the wall.

Tom Arnold, actor and comedian: This is a typical thing: Sam Kinison came and did shows with us, so everybody ends up at 2 or 3 at my place. And it's crazy. And then you run out of beer or whatever at a certain point, and you're just counting the minutes till the CC opens so you can at least go in there and fucking figure out what's going on, what the next move is, and at least get some alcohol going. So that's what happened, because anytime comics came to town they ended up at our place. And that was just so easy. You know, so much better than going to a liquor store. Go in there and order four drinks at once, which is what I always did. Which they kind of — they eventually wouldn't allow that to happen.

Maggie Macpherson, stage manager at First Avenue and booker at the Uptown: Tom Arnold used to get on the microphone at the end of the night and invite people over to his house after hours.

Metsa: It was kind of a triple threat, in terms of, it was a great place to start the evening, great place to end the evening, and a great place to get what we called a "day cap." Going to end the night first thing in the morning.

Carr: We had missed that part at 4 in the morning when you go to sleep, and we had broken through to a new day. And I can't remember who mentioned it, but it was off to breakfast of champions at the CC. And I don't know, it's not really polite to walk through a neighborhood in broad daylight and pop into a bar, but once you're in there, it was always an appropriate time to have a cocktail. And it was I think 8:30 in the morning, and I can remember we walked up to the bar, and we had probably not slept or washed in either a day or several. And we came walking up to the bar, and there was a mom and a little kid at the bar. He either looked at me or [my friend] and said, "That's a bad man, mommy."

Metsa: It seemed to be a fairly easy place to do drugs, if you were so inclined. But it was never really a drug bar.

Carr: The bathroom at the CC Club was a very busy place. I'll just say that and leave it at that. There was a guy, he's kind of a weirdo, Kenny, that was frequently there. You know what, I don't wanna be the guy who goes into that, because I've already said plenty about my relationship with all that shit.

Arnold: That was one place you could get drug dealers to actually come, that they felt kind of safe to come there. And you watch, if you're in there and you've been up a day or two, you watch to see who's going to the bathroom so you can go in there and horn in on him. Because we really had no money. Any money we had we spent partying. And so I had like six managers at the time. I called them my managers, but they were actually drug dealers. But I told them they were my managers.

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