The Channel

The Channel

Any conversation about the Boston music scene the 1980s has to include The Channel, one of the city’s most (in)famous concert venues. Opened in 1980 at 25 Necco Street on the edge of Fort Point Channel (hence the name), it was on the site of the old Mad Hatter disco and a mainstay for rockers of all varieties for over 11 years.

With an official capacity of 1,700, the venue was one of the largest live-music spots in the area, so sharing a bill with one of the nationally known acts that played there – or headlining one of the club’s local music nights – was often the highlight of up-and-coming bands’ careers. Being able to tell people that your group played at The Channel provided a certain street cred overnight.


Dozens of Boston-rooted acts took to The Channel stage, among them Misson of Burma, Human Sexual Response‘Til TuesdayJon Butcher Axis, Pixies, The CarsLizzie Borden & The AxesGang Green, Extreme, Big Dipper, The NeighborhoodsFace to Face, La Peste, Farrenheit, Buffalo Tom, Big Catholic Guilt and The Fools.

Bands from outside New England that appeared included Devo, The Ramones, Black Flag, Ministry, Spin Doctors, Tom Tom Club, Stray Cats, The Rollins Band, The Hooters, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and The Cramps along with a number of well-established reggae and blues acts (including Jimmy Cliff and B.B. King in 1991). “Anything from heavy metal to Latino and gospel,” the club’s booker, Warren Scott, told The Boston Globe in 1985. “If it has an audience, we’ll do it.”

In addition to Scott, other Channel luminaries included renowned soundman Dinky Dawson, deejays Carter Alan, Bradley Jay, Metal Mike, Carmelita and bartender Robin Moran, the last of whom helped to organize the Channel Reunion Concert in June 2013 to celebrate the bands and the venue that made the ‘80s such a great time for rock fans living in or around Boston.


Hit hard by rising booking costs, liquor license issues and competition from other venues like the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, T.T. the Bear’s Place and The Middle East in Cambridge and Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel and The Living Room in Providence, Channel owner Harry Booras filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in 1990. After a few fits and starts, The Channel closed for good on December 31, 1991, and notorious mobster “Cadillac Frank” Salemme took control of the space in 1992, turning it into a strip club called Soiree.

(by Stephen Haag)

Published On: June 22, 2013