Local Current Blog

Jay’s Longhorn Bar opened 40 years ago today

Jay’s Longhorn Bar was only open for a few years in downtown Minneapolis, but during that time it became the center of a booming punk and independent rock scene. “It was a little bit like CBGB with Cheers mixed into it,” remembered regular Sharon Samuels.

Not only did local legends like Hüsker Dü and Curtiss A and the Suicide Commandos play there, in its brief late-1970s heyday the venue hosted Talking Heads, the Police, the B-52s, Iggy Pop, Blondie, Grace Jones, and Elvis Costello. Bruce Springsteen never played there, but he famously played pinball there during a Suburbs show — later befriending the band.

“The Longhorn opening felt so exciting. It was just electric in the air. Then it shot like a rocket,” Johnny Rey tells Cyn Collins in her new oral history Complicated Fun. Rey’s band Flamingo played the Longhorn on opening night: 40 years ago today, June 1, 1977. The first few shows were held upstairs, but the music soon moved to the downstairs room.

Now, the space on 5th and Hennepin that formerly housed the Longhorn is a storage facility for Xcel Energy. The memories and the music, though, will always live on. Thanks to guitarist Dick Champ (NNB, Scene Is Now) for sharing the above image of a poster from that first show.