Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The LeClaire Hotel

We stayed at the LeClaire Hotel, in downtown Moline, Illinois a couple of times while playing at a bowling alley bar a few block away. I can't recall the name of the club at all... just one of many, but it was a pretty big bar, with a western/cowboy motif. I remember that there was a cowhide mounted on the wall just behind me, on stage, and wagon wheels mounted along the railings around the dance floor. The job was fairly unremarkable, although I think the crowds were pretty good both times we played there. Good, working class, blue collar types... beer drinkers that just wanted to have a good time. Our favorite kind of crowd. Even though the place had a western theme to it, I don't think hey hired country bands. We played our usual top 40 dance and rock music (and the oldies show) there.
I will never forget the first time we were there, loading our equipment in, and an old lady stopped me and asked if we needed all of that stuff to sound good. And I responded politely, No we need all of this equipment so that more people can hear how good we sound. She seemed satisfied with that, and went on her way... probably still thought we were a bunch of hippies, though (ha)
As I mentioned, we stayed at the LeClaire Hotel in Moline a couple of times. Once in December of 1979, and again in the spring of 1980. The LeClaire was a typical, old, big city hotel... and it stands out in my memories of the road. The building was all brick, accented with cut stone and hard woods. All of the rooms were small by modern standards, and the feeling was dark inside, even in the light of day. It's kind of hard to describe. Rene, our female lead singer, insisted that the hotel was haunted. One evening when she was getting ready for that night's gig, she said she saw a ghost in her room. As she described it, she was walking out of the bathroom and saw an apparition enter the room, through the wall. It was there long enough for her to get a good look at it, and then it vanished. If I remember right, she said it was an older man dressed in a black suit. Rene didn't do drugs, and drank only rarely... and the way she described the experience, I believe she saw something. She also told of another time when she had a "vision" while taking a shower at that hotel. She said that she looked down and saw broken glass at her feet, but there wasn't anything there. That evening at the gig, she happened to mention it while we were standing around waiting to play, and Jerry Williams, our alto sax player, said that he had dropped a beer bottle in the shower that evening, and cut his foot! Strange stuff.
As far as I know, the LeClaire Hotel is still standing today. I think it is even on the National Register of Historic Places. I read several years ago that it closed in 1983, and it is now being used for office space and upscale apartments. Ted Kennedy held a press conference there one time while we were staying there, and Pam got a picture of him as he was walking through the lobby.
We played Moline again several years later, during the time when Bob Thomas was playing guitar in the band... sometime during the winter of 1985/86. I remember we had to drive on some icy roads on the trip up there, from Colorado. We stayed at a motel near the river. Again, I can't remember the place we played at all... it's a total blank (although I know it wasn't the bowling alley bar). However, I do remember the motel we stayed at. It was kind of a low-class affair, but at the time it was about all we could afford. When we were checking in, Bob said to the clerk "this place doesn't look anything like it did in the brochure". I guess you had to be there, but at the time it was pretty funny. Part of the humor of it, I think, was that it summed up our musical careers at the time pretty well, also. But at least we were playing.

1 comment:

  1. What rooms? I work there now. I've had strange experiences on a few floors. I was wondering if it was the same.