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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16 comments
dorianepaso
dorianepaso

My best friends and I lived around the corner on Aldrich '89-'91 and I first saw my tall skinny husband-to-be slouching past the wooden bars.  3 countries and 22 years later and I can still see the cigarette smoke decend as the lines at the pool tables gets rowdier and we sit at the King's table deciding which house party or warehouse to go to after closing...ah the intrigues, the music ...I love you CC Club!

TheWolfe
TheWolfe

 I lived above the CC for years and 3 houses with in a 1/2 a block from there  in the 80's and 90's. Wow the stories. :P

Mike Larson
Mike Larson

Loved the article. One of my favorite city pages articles I've read.

guitarlo
guitarlo

Since City Pages (Minneapolis magazine) is running a story on a local watering hole in my ex home town of 45 years, a place that I claimed as the birth place of the Minneapolis underground rock scene, where I grew up and played a role in helping the Minneapolis Music Scene in the 80s become what it was I feel it right to share my slice of the CC Tap story since I lived next door. And my favorite memory was Chris Osgood advising me to cheer up there. Don't be so down. Rock on. http://www.shawnphillips.com/ah/CCTAPsuz.htm

David Kaiser
David Kaiser

Most over hyped shit establishment I've ever had the displeasure of being a patron of.

Fred Haeusler
Fred Haeusler

I know the origin of the Bohemian Club's pizza nailed to the wall ...

alicia-vera
alicia-vera

Cool. I remember drinking shirley temples and playing the 8 ball pin ball machine there as a kid, back when my parents were regulars. And my mom used to be a waitress there when it was the c.c tap!

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Also, as much as a weirdo I may be at times times, I am not the Kenny that David Carr is referring to. While I may be guilty of spending a few paychecks here, my money has always been made legitimately. ;-)

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Excellent article. Glad the new owners are taking a lesson from history and leaving this institution "as is". And even looking for a "new, old jukebox".

freealonzo
freealonzo

As an infant I lived on 24th and Garfield in the early/mid-60's as my father went to school.  His first "legal" drink in a bar after turning 21 was at the CC Tap.  He remembered it then as a "Cop Bar."  Alas in the late 60's we moved to the suburbs, otherwise who knows, I may have been hanging at the corner when during my teen years in the late 1970s.

Guy Harrison
Guy Harrison

This is brilliant! Clarence Campbell (the original "CC") was my great grandfather's brother. Great grandma Frieda was the original server and I believe Grandma Betty probably did a stint there. I tried to get hired a couple times, but was always a little afraid of what familial specters might linger there.

Mare Anderson
Mare Anderson

I miss their battered, deep-fried onion and green pepper rings and mushrooms.

fredflintstoned
fredflintstoned

My older brother lived across the street and went to rehab with Tom Arnold. Lol. Wish I was able to enjoy the 80's like that! Or not.

Dan Hoffman
Dan Hoffman

Wish I had a nickel for every dollar that I spent there...

 
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