Friday, April 2, 2010

Mr. Lucky's

Phoenix has always been a fairly easy place to get around. The streets are mapped out running north and south, east and west. There is one street that runs at an angle, Grand Avenue, which follows the railroad for several miles. While driving along this stretch of road, you will drive by a very unusual sign with a jester on top, and with the name “Mr. Lucky’s” just below it. This sign sits near Grand Avenue in a large asphalt parking lot. The building sitting on the lot has very plain wood walls, no windows, and white barn doors marking the entrance. This once booming nightclub now sits abandoned, with a security fence around it and a couple of snarling dogs inside. Mr. Lucky’s holds many memories for me and many others, so to see it as a shell of what was, is very heartbreaking.

On October 3, 1966, Mr. Lucky’s opened its doors and provided a combination of rock’n roll and country music. There were many famous singers such as Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Clark, just to name a few, that rock the place with their unique brand of music. To see the place from the outside, you would never know that it was two stories inside. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, when I frequent there, the place was bustling. What were popular during this era were the urban cowboys, disco, and the ever popular rock n’ roll. When you enter through the front doors, you continue to go straight and walk into the country and western section of the nightclub. This area was a generous size and adorned with western decorations on the walls, two bars, a large stage, and many places to sit and enjoy a drink. In front of the stage was a favorable size dance floor where many kicked up their heels doing the two-step and electric slide. In one corner was the infamous electric bull where many cowboys and cowgirls were bucked off, bruising their egos. There were countless live bands that went through the doors, performing on the stage, along with its owners J. David Sloan and his band the Rouge.

Although the upstairs was a fun place, my friends and I enjoyed the lower section much more. As you walk through the barn door entrance, you take a right which takes you down a dark mirrored ramp to the rock n’ roll part of the nightclub. Halfway down, the ramp hits a landing and turn about 180 degrees and heads down more. As you enter the lower level, the first thing you see is one of the two bars down there. When you finally get to the bottom and make a right, you enter the very dark bar. The stage and dance floor are much smaller and there is less places to sit. The air had a murky look to it because people were allowed to smoke in nightclubs, which sucked for us nonsmokers. Many of the live bands that played down there kicked ass and rocked the joint. When there wasn’t a live band for the night, the D.J.’s always played the biggest hits of the times. When my friends and I decided to go to Mr. Lucky’s, we would get there early to get our favorite table. This table was big enough to hold four to six people, and was the first one upon entering the bar. It was a primo spot and always got us attention, especially the picture hanging on the wall above the table. The picture was of a blonde woman, sitting on a chair with her legs crossed. An elbow was leaning on the upper leg with a finger touching her lip. The thing that got everyone’s attention was the fact that she was wearing a low-cut top and her breasts were so large that they were literally sitting on her lap. Many nights, someone would stumble by and stare at the picture asking if they were real. I would say, NO!

I have many good memories at Mr. Lucky’s and only a few bad. We did some crazy stuff such as partying with the bands all night and going home in the morning. I can recall one time I got too drunk and had to be taken home by my friends. Never go tubing all day, baking in the hot sun for four hours, drink tall seven and sevens and not eat anything for dinner. I’m just saying, it could get you so drunk that you drop your sister’s birthday cake, and throw up on your bed after getting home, and then pass out. Bless my parent’s hearts, they cleaned up the mess and put me to bed. By the way, I will have a future post about tubing.

On August of 2004, J. David Sloan closed Mr. Lucky’s doors due to financial worries and declining crowds. Even the popularity of the Latino format in the lower level couldn’t bring in enough money to keep up with the bills. Today the disintegrating walls still stand on the lot along with its very unique, rusting “Mr. Lucky’s” sign. Inside the dark walls are the spirits of those happier and successful times still playing the music, engaging in dances, and having a cold one with friends.

Here’s to you Mr. Lucky’s and all the great times I had at your place!




14 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! I did my first runway modeling show there! I know, it sounds insane. It was for "Goldwater's" store--remember that one??? We rocked the ramps there. It was great! I had a blast and got hooked on runway cause they usually let me keep the clothes. How sweet is that?? It's a bummer it's closed down. Wouldn't you love to own that sign??? Some smart person should bring it back to life. We have few places like that in town, most are the snooty hip places in the Biltmore plaza for the young witless rich "Snottsdale" crowd. Thanks for covering that. Great memories. Most of my friends got their first drinks there at 19. Remember when that was the drinking age?

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  2. I didn't know Mr. Lucky's had runway shows there. Hum, learn something new everyday. I do remember the Goldwater's stores after the big man himself, Barry. I don't think they exist anymore. Yes, I would love to have that sign but don't have a place to put it.....the back yard next to Big Red perhaps? I totally remember being able to drink at 19 in AZ. My sister took me to a bar on my 19th birthday. That didn't last too long before they changed it back to 21.

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  3. Sounds like it was a pretty cool place. Hopefully, someone will come in and make it fabulous once again.

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  4. I love the clown. It sounds like it was a fun place. They just don't make many places with mechanical bulls anymore

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  5. Oh wow. How sad. When I first saw the title I was like, "Why does that name sound familiar?" Then the second I saw the shot I knew why. How could I have forgotten about Mr. Lucky's! We had a few great nights there with friends when we lived there. Sorry to hear the place finally had to close down.

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  6. In 1985 i was 19 and in az it was legal to drink, my boyfriend at the time was going to school in phoenix and i tagged along. While we stayed in the apartments right behind Mr Luckys i went and partied every night there. I would have a bucket of , long island iced teas

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  7. Does anyone know how Mr. Lucky's got it's name? I loved going there! A lot of great fun & memories!
    That is where I met my husband! So it was certainly a lucky place for us.

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    1. Was actually set up to be the first gambling joint in AZ until it got vetoed, then became a bar. --- Chad Golladay

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  8. Wow..I don't know where to start. All the stuff mentioned above are so true. I grew up basically in the area. Attended school school down the road, and my step fathers bar was on Indian, 23rd Ave so I basically knew what the bar business was all about. While turning the legal age ( like so many of my classmates) I started working at "Mr. Lucy's as s floor bouncer. Talk about some good times. That place brings brings so, so many thought, and pleasant memories that God can describe. I can go, on, & on about that place. Oh yeah there would be some misunderstanding's but the Bouncers handled the problem's on a professional basis. The waitress use to carry little flashlights, and when there would be some trouble all they had to do was shine that light in the air, wiggle it around
    and here came the Calvery ( BOUNCERS). It got tricky to see those lights while the strob lights came on.
    "SORRY I DON'T MEAN TO RAMBLE ON. That place is the "GRAND FATHER OF BARS, NIGHT AROUND." I BEEN ALL OVER THE AS A.MERCHANT SEAMAN, AND NOTHING COMES ANY WHERE CLOSE TO THIS PLACE."
    They should open that place back up, or fix it up, and make it kind like a historical place of Phoenix. All types of people have passed through them doors. Well thanks Mr. Lucky's for the.very good memories....

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  9. Growing up my family would drive by there, and I swear I always thought it was a strip club lol. That was when I was in elementary school, Im 29 now. Very cool to know, but too bad it closed. My husband and I were just arguing about what it was. He won :-)

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  10. I met my first one-night stand at Mr. Lucky's. Called her a few years ago (40 years later), and I was sorry I did. I should have left it as a one-niter back in the wonderful old days of Phoenix.

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  11. Worked as a bouncer there, part time,in the early 80's. Had a blast every shift I worked!
    Mainly worked the door and the floor, if it was during the weekday's. Made employee of the month once. Remember when Waylon Jennings and his wife, Jessie Coulter, came in and did a couple of sets with the house band, J David Sloan and the Rouges. Great memories for sure!

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  12. I use to go to Mr. Luckys 3-4 times a week. I started at age 15. It was in the 70's, loved it, we would dance all night and party with the band, I remember they would stay open until 3 a.m. I drove by it 4 years ago when I went back to AZ, wow, the memories of that place. It was jumpin' every night. They had the fish fry also. It was the place to party for sure. Last time I went was 1984, I think. Good memories and some hard partying....

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  13. I did many a western gunfight shoot out on the upstairs dance floor,back in the 1970's and 1980's and 1990's. . Lots and lots of good fun memories there....many people will remember those......

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