McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge


Forgotten Chicago Sightings Forgotten Chicago Forum
Explore Forgotten Chicago
Noticed something interesting? Let us know about it! 
McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: WayOutWardell (---.dsl.chcgil.sbcglobal.net)
Date: November 25, 2014 02:14AM

Popular disk jockey McKie Fitzhugh opened his Disc Jockey Show Lounge in 1956, in the Strand Hotel at 63rd & Cottage Grove. Among the patrons and performers at his lounge were the likes of Sonny Rollins, BB King, Gene Ammons, John Coltrane, Fontella Bass, Brook Benton, Mike Bloomfield and Sonny Stitt.

The club closed in the late '60s as Woodlawn's decline was under way. Fitzhugh died in 1970 and the hotel went vacant not long after.

I have recently obtained the original Disc Jockey Show Lounge sign, which was hanging on the front of the hotel. I'm getting it back to working order.

The club in 1963:


The sign in 2014:




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/31/2015 05:19PM by WayOutWardell.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: WayOutWardell (---.dsl.chcgil.sbcglobal.net)
Date: January 31, 2015 05:23PM

Here's what was underneath layers of paint.

[url=https://flic.kr/p/q4j7o9]Untitled[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/]WayOutWardell[/url], on Flickr

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: 222psm (---.br.br.cox.net)
Date: February 02, 2015 09:34AM

Awesome that you're restoring the sign, it's part of Chicago's history. Keep us up to date on how it goes.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: MisterDrexciya (---.ehv.campus.philips.com)
Date: February 02, 2015 01:12PM

Good catch, and good to read that you rescued this little piece of Southside history! Once you're done with the painting you need to find a good neon shop who can blow and bend the glass tubes in the right way. The high-voltage transformers are probably toast by now too, given the harsh Chicago climate.
Do you know what the original colors were of the several tubes?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/2015 01:13PM by MisterDrexciya.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: WayOutWardell (199.101.76.---)
Date: February 03, 2015 01:15PM

I wish I knew what the colors originally were. The only photo I've ever seen of the club is the one I posted above from '63 (which is how I ended up discovering that the sign was still hanging on the building all these years later).

I have been talking with a neon shop and it's been an education, for sure. They were telling me that most of the neon in the city back in the day was red or orange, as those hold up better in the cold. The old transformers are still inside, as are the relays and wiring for the chaser lights that ran along the bottom.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: Dunning1 (---.dhs.gov)
Date: February 03, 2015 02:58PM

Going back to when I was a kid, I remember the neon signs all up and down North Avenue. The background was usually a dark reddish brown, with edging and lettering done in a cream color. The neon itself was a reddish orange.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: MisterDrexciya (---.ehv.campus.philips.com)
Date: February 05, 2015 11:29AM

That's true about the red and orange colors. Green, yellow and blue colored neon tubing requires a mixture of noble gas and mercury as well as a fluorescent coating. Mercury doesn't work so well in the cold so the tubes will be dimmer in winter. And the coating deteriorates over time too regardless of temperature. Pure red neon filling is the best in terms of longevity. Let us know how the restauration is going; it'd be nice to see the sign back to life.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: rjmachon (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: April 01, 2015 07:41PM

How's the sign coming along? Any chance that your sign is in this book? Good Old Neon.

http://francesarcher.com/2014/12/book-review-good-old-neon/


I found some more of Chicago's pictures at PicturingUS. If I see anything of value on the sign, I will pass it on to you.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/2015 07:44PM by rjmachon.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: WayOutWardell (---.dsl.chcgil.sbcglobal.net)
Date: April 01, 2015 10:53PM

The paint has been completely removed and all the original lettering is intact underneath.

[url=https://flic.kr/p/qXEhFm] [/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/qXEhFm]Untitled[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/]WayOutWardell[/url], on Flickr

It's pretty much ready for the electrical work but that of course is pending the funds to do so.

I've talked to a couple of musicians who played there, including one who said he'd have never made it as a professional musician if not for McKie Fitzhugh, as well as some of Fitzhugh's family.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: rjmachon (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: April 02, 2015 02:50AM

Cool!

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: Anonymous User (172.78.75.---)
Date: September 06, 2015 11:35PM

I Remember the "Lounge" very well as I cme to enjoy some of the very best in Jazz that could be found in Chicago in the 1960's One night in particular stands out in my memory as I was at the lounge enjoying the legendary Jack McDuff's fine organ music that only Jimmy Smith could rival and things got a little harry as folks came in distraught at the knowledge that Malcolm-X had just been assinated. They had no idea who the murderer was but being white didn't make things easy for my presence in the lounge. I knew most of the people there and needless to say lively discussions followed as the night unfolded. We all were miffed about his murder.
With Jacks music in the background to the discussions it became a night to remember.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:

Re: McKie's Disc Jockey Show Lounge
Posted by: WayOutWardell (---.dsl.chcgil.sbcglobal.net)
Date: September 08, 2015 01:11AM

Thanks for the story, Dave. By the way, the Strand Hotel renovation is almost complete and it looks fantastic. I don't know what the plan is for the old lounge space, but here's what it looked like a few weeks ago through the window on Cottage Grove:
[url=https://flic.kr/p/wxKVC2] [/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/wxKVC2]Interior, formerly McKie's Disc Jockey Lounge[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/]WayOutWardell[/url], on Flickr



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2015 01:12AM by WayOutWardell.

Options: ReplyQuote

AD:



Home | Columns | Articles | Features | Links | Forum | Mission Statement | Staff | Media & Press | Maps | FAQ | Contact