Grande Ballroom 50th Anniversary – History Bus Tour w/Photos

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In remembrance of the 50th Anniversary of the Rock n Roll re-opening of the Grande Ballroom, author Leo Early led a group of 35 Grande fans on a music history tour of downriver and the west side of Detroit. On … Continue reading

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The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace

leo early

After 12 years of toil, dozens of interviews, countless library hours and plenty of travel,  I am pleased to finally announce the release of my book, “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace.” Much thanks to all the Grande faithful who helped me get to this point. To all the principals, patrons and performers, I hope this offering is a reflective glimpse into the entire 88 year history of the building that you will all enjoy.

Leo Early 2016

“In the 1920’s, a jewel of Detroit entertainment arose on the west side – the Grande Ballroom. The venue flourished under the ownership of infamous gambler Harry Weitzman and management of dance scion Paul Strasburg. The advent of rock n’ roll pushed the ballroom into hard times, but in 1966, a local schoolteacher and disc jockey Russ Gibb resurrected it with the promise of live rock music.The new psychedelic ballroom style attracted scores of suburban baby boomers and helped launch the careers of local legends like the MC5, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent. Soon the ballroom’s prestige attracted international acts like the Cream, the Who and the Jeff Beck group. Detroit Music expert Leo Early celebrates this beloved venue.”

Publication date October 3, 2016 with two (2) ways to order:

1 – Amazon

2 – At the Grande 50th event I will be signing a LIMITED number of copies for event attendees. You must have a ticket to enter this event. (Box office)

You may reserve purchase one of these Grande 50th copies which must be picked up in person. I will be happy to personalize a copy expressly for you. Orders are processed via Paypal which accepts most credit cards here:


Cover photo by Tom Weschler

Press Release

The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace Facebook group – Discuss the book!

The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace – Fan/Book page

The Friends of the Grande Facebook page – Grass roots activism – Author Page

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Leo Early Book Signing @ Briarwood “Art is in Market” 10-30

I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 30 From 1-4 P.M. at Briarwood Mall. “Art is in Market” is a very cool “Detroit-centric” shop with some great works by local artists and creatives. Shop local!


Art is in Market


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Leo Early Book Signing @ Twelve Oaks “Art is in Market” 10-23

I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 23 From 1-4 P.M. Art is in Market is a very cool “Detroit-centric” shop with some great works by local artists and creatives. Shop local!



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October 5, 2016 Grande Ballroom Inspection

On Wednesday October 5, 2016 a team of experts and students led by author Leo Early entered the Grande Ballroom. The purpose of the visit was to formally determine the viability of the property on behalf of its current owners, Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Leo Early: “Joining us were representatives from ECM Construction, Preservation Detroit, The Detroit Sound Conservancy, and Professor Krysta Ryzewski and her students from Wayne State University’s Archaeology program. Teams documented the interior using a myriad of methods including Hi-definition still, video and 3D capture technologies. Engineers from ECM paid particular attention to the roof deck and the basement, which turned out to be relatively dry.  A brilliantly sunny Indian Summer day with temperatures in the upper ’70’s worked to our advantage and stiff breezes helped tremendously with ventilation.”

Note: This visit was a fully sanctioned inspection authorized by the owners. It was planned over a period of months and all parties had the proper paperwork and clearance to enter. The Grande Ballroom is presently uninsured and NOT open to the public. Understand that under NO circumstances should anyone attempt to enter the building without permission. Anyone caught entering can and will be charged with trespassing as well as breaking and entering. Since our visit the owners have stepped up security and notified the Detroit Police Department for additional coverage.



“Thanks to legendary Grande impresario Russ Gibb we were able to share copies of the original Grande blueprints with everyone. These materials were especially useful to the students from Wayne State.”




Archaeological documentation. Photo: WSU

“Although reports and test results are not in yet, it is very unlikely asbestos was used in the Grande’s construction.”


The Grande Ballroom October 5, 2016 Photo: WSU


Friends of the Grande, Preservation Detroit and Wayne State stars!

“When the Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church (CHMBC) first acquired the Grande 10 years ago they were uncertain if they would raze this building or renovate. In the years since the Church had yet to officially recognize the building’s historical significance. That is until December of 2015 when CHMBC conceded that the Ballroom did have significant historical value to generations of Detroiters. Thereafter Pastor Dr. R. Lamont Smith III asked that I assist their construction partners ECM construction in assessing the viability of the structure. Dr. Smith and I concur that should the building still be viable and a business case found, a renovated Grande could be a keystone property for a much larger neighborhood revitalization project.”

“Presently everyone is compiling reports and papers on the inspection. At some point in the near future there should be an official announcement regarding the Grande’s condition and any plans for the building. If the building proves viable it is conceivable that we will collect information on volunteers and those willing to contribute or raise funds for restoration. I will be acting as primary press contact for the Church in this regard and will serve to disseminate any official information.”

Here is CHMBC’s first press release concerning the Grande:

CHMBC Grande Press Release 10-21-16

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Author Leo Early at Partridge Creek Mall “Art is in Market” October 16

Join me at The Mall at Partridge Creek’s “Art is in Market” where I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 16th from 1-4 pm!

The Mall at Partridge Creek  17420 Hall Road Clinton Township, MI 48038



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Author Leo Early At Detroit Sound Conservancy Conference Saturday Oct. 15

detroitsound3-poster-4-oct-2016-72pixLeo Early at Detroit Sound Conservancy 3rd Annual Music Conference

Sound scholars unite for two days / three events dedicated to Detroit’s musical legacies

Detroit, MI: The Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the region’s sonic heritage, will host its 3rd Annual Conference on Saturday, October 15, 2016 in Detroit from 9 am to 6 pm. The all day event will be free and open to the public. A Fundraising Concert will follow in the evening and a Remembrance Ceremony on Sunday.

This year’s conference will be presented by Lawrence Technological University and the Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) (4219 Woodward). “The DCDT prides itself on aligning with local initiatives, programs and organizations who look to foster and expand the role that art and design play among the local community, growing industry and educational pedagogy,” says Karl Daubmann, DCDT Interim Executive Director. “With the DSC’s history of working towards increased awareness of Detroit’s musical heritage, along with their efforts in advocacy, preservation and education in the local community, the DCDT is proud to support our neighborhood partner in their endeavors to reinvigorate Detroit’s ever present musical culture.”

10:00 – 11:15: Panel 1, Gallery

Alyssa Mehnert, A Constant Stream of Requests: McKinney’s Cotton Pickers on the Radio 1927–1931
Veronica Johnson, What About Us? Community Archiving and Documenting the Legacy of Detroit Female Jazz Musicians
Marsha Music, On Land of the Blues
Leo Early, “Tuning the Grande Ballroom”

Location: We are going to be at the Lawrence Tech Detroit Center, 4219 Woodward

Parking: free street parking on Willis, west of Woodward Ave.

Parking garage near Great Lakes Coffee, 25 W. Alexandrine St., all day is $5

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WKNR Top Hits for October 3, 1966 – Grande @50


You Tube WKNR Top 13 Playlist curated by Leo Early



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The Grande Ballroom Dodges Hurricane Matthew

As The Grande Ballroom Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace continues to storm up the online sales charts I’ve received news from my publisher Arcadia\History Press in Charleston, South Carolina. They are meeting all orders for the book from retailers and yours truly before evacuating the city! This means there will be virtually no interruption in online orders or, if you are coming to the Grande 50th celebration, I personally will have a copy for you. History Press for the Win!




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Ann Delisi WDET – Leo Early Grande Interview audio

If you didn’t catch it live on September 24, listen below to my interview with the lovely, super cool and knowledgeable radio host and Deejay Ann Delisi.  Then, if you enjoy Ann Delisi’s Essential Music on WDET as I do, be sure to kick them a few bucks via the support link below. #thegrande



Support WDET 

For more.. get the book!


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John Sinclair and the Psychedelic Rangers

As John Sinclair turns 75 today October 2, 2016 I was reminded of this story and picture that did not make the book. Sinclair was a master organizer and the Psychedelic Rangers was a group he put together to help run and control many of the free events the Sinclairs were involved with. The Rangers wore brightly colored “uniforms”, the color of which changed periodically, and helped with crowd control and traffic at a number of the free outdoor concerts. John’s badge reads “Official of Psychedelic Rangers -Sinclair”

John Sinclair and Psychedelic Rangers at the Grande – Photo: Steve Kott

The Psychedelic rangers want you! (Ann Arbor Sun – June 1971)



For more.. get the book!


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