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The Best Rock in Town – Charley Magruders Memories
If the walls of Charley Magruders could talk, we would all be entertained until the end of time. Since the club’s closing about fifteen years ago, the owner Butch Weaver, and the employees have become the walls. I’ve told a few stories where I have changed the names of the guilty to appear innocent several times, but I’m not here to tell a story of some famous cat that walked through the doors of Charley Magruders. I’m going to fill you in on one of the best jobs I have ever had. Being a part of that Rock and Roll club was such an amazing time in my life.
The year is 1992 and I am leaving the Pump Club, one of the High Energy dance clubs that I worked at with one of my friends, Ginger. We climbed into her 280Z and decided to head on over to a bar we had never been to before, Charley Magruders. I had heard about it from my roommate Terry who also worked at the Pump Club with me. He had been several times and he said if we wanted to hear some good rock and roll music that this was the place to be. He may have mention that the club would be packed with beautiful women and boys with long hair dressed in leather jackets, but he had me sold at Rock and Roll.
I was excited to see the parking lot filled with cars and people conversing outside the club. We had to loop around a few times and finally found a spot in front of the local drugstore. There were a few people in line at the door and this was my first encounter with long hair boys. Now, I could be all cheesy and tell you that from the moment I walked into Charley Magruders, I felt like I was home and this tremendous feeling of belonging came over me. But that would be a lie. It was much later on that I felt that way! I had no idea how much this club was going to shape and mold me for things yet to come.
Now I can’t go into detail about what happened inside the club that night in early 1992. Not because it was something I’d have to kill you over for spilling the beans, I just can’t recall the details of that particular night once I walked into the club. I can tell you it was the beginning of a long love affair with long hair, generous stripper girls, strong shots, cold beer, loud music, gorgeous bouncers, sweet bartenders, kick ass waitresses, and the owner of the club.
Inside the club you could almost always find Jeff, a.k.a. “god”, working the front door. You’d better have your ID ready. He didn’t care if you were the boss’ daughters’ cousin twice removed or the tour manager for .38 Special or if you were 40 years old. No ID, no entry. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Then again, I think if you brought the previous week’s Drink and Drowned cup with your name in sharpie on it, you might be able to slide back in. If it wasn’t Jeff at the door you might find Bernie, Justin, Ziggy, Paul, or Trey filling in for him. When not filling in for Jeff at the door they would fit into the “Gorgeous Bouncer” category. The bouncers were definitely not there for just eye candy I learned quickly. I got to see my fair share of “helping folks out” of the club via the bouncers. It was a great spectacle. When you’d see one of them rush through the club, flashlight in hand above the crowd, you knew some $hi+ was about to go down. If you were a customer, you knew enough to move out of the way or else.
If you were able to belly up to one of the two bars and order a drink one of the long hair bartenders would be there to serve you. Insert “Sweet Bartenders” names here. Robbie, Paul, Dale, Andy, Gino, Rocky, or Mark. All of whom I assumed took a class in reading lips. You didn’t need to shout your orders to them over the loud music they could just figure it out. I could assume that since the club itself had such a regular customer base they had already memorized your drink order from you being in there every darn night. I am not knocking the regular customers. This became my bread and butter and my extended Rock and Roll family. All of the guys behind the bar could have been mistaken for any member of any band on any given night. One of the things that made them so sweet was throughout the night if they over poured a shot they would set it aside and share it with one of the waitresses. That’s like a random act of kindness when your slinging drinks to poor musicians before their stripper girlfriends came in with the nights wad of cash.
If you didn’t move out of the “kick ass” waitress way chances are you’d be wearing some of the pitcher of beer she just slung down on the high top table, on purpose. I didn’t become one of these waitresses right off the bat. It was like a secret club and you had to be voted in and approved by all to take the next position available. I had Edie, Monica, Theresa, Cindy, and Teri checking me out to make sure I’d be a good fit for them. Just watching them work the crowd of long hair boys was impressive and even more impressive was how they carried the tray, overhead, loaded with half a dozen beers and a round of shots without spilling them. It was insane. On a busy night it was hard to squeeze by the stage and the front row of tables with a full tray, in a hunched down position, as to not block the view of the rock gods that graced that stage. This is the part where I could name drop for about half a page but probably a few pages for everyone else. I was oblivious to anyone who wasn’t mainstream and on MTV at that time. Like I said this isn’t about who jammed on stage or who hung out in the dressing room, I’m still trying to fill you in on why I ended up with this fantastic job.
I started to become a regular of the club myself. If Ginger wasn’t up for it Nicole, a coworker from Yesterdays which was a sad little wanna be suburbia bar, and I would high tail it over after our shift ended. OK, so I loved being busy I had a full time day job and two bar jobs. Anyways we would usually catch the last set of the band, have a few cocktails and watch at least one fight go down. You can’t buy that kind of entertainment for that cheep anymore! On one particular night that I was there with Nicole, I noticed they had a new kitchen cook, Lee. Damn, this was the same kitchen guy I worked with at Yesterdays. He was pulling double duty trying to make ends meet. He ended up hiring Ginger and I to work in the kitchen and run food for him all for a little shift pay and tips. It was a no brainer for either of us. Just to get a foot into the door and feel like part of the family, well maybe a red headed stepchild in the family. But we were in!!
After working in the kitchen for about six months the manager of the club, Fred, asked me if I would ever want to work out on the floor as a waitress. I don’t think he got the words out of his mouth before I jumped up and hugged his neck in excitement! This is the part where I really started to feel like I belonged here. The girls made it tough on me at first because I was replacing Sylvia, who had decided to move on and persue another line of work. I’m sure to them I was like the pain in the ass little stepsister that couldn’t do anything right. I didn’t care, I was in and I was never leaving. The owner of the club handed me my first name badge that said STEPHANIE in big letters and waitress under it in smaller letters. That is not the only thing he handed to me over the course of my three years working at the club but it’s the second most memorable thing from the club.
The first most memorable thing he gave me, in a sense, would be my children. Here is the cheesy part. I ended up spending a lot of time at the soundboard waiting mercifully for the lead waitress to call me onto the floor because she needed help. Sometimes I’d walk onto the floor at 1am and the night would be over by 4am. Not a long shift but the cash was GREAT! Anyways the soundman Curtis who was also a musician, I know surprise surprise, had me at “what do you plan on doing in five years? ” Great pick up line, not really but it worked. We ended up wanting to move in together after a year of hanging out. There was a little problem. I didn’t have anything in my name and I needed someone to cosign on the apartment lease for me. Enter my great boss, Butch Weaver. So I blame him for my two children and four stepchildren. If it wasn’t for him cosigning the lease who knows what the end of my Rock and Roll story would be. Maybe married to some boring (insert boring job here), sleeping in twin beds like the Cleavers. ICK!
The club closed the doors on NYE 1995 just a little after midnight before the band sang its last set. Some genius in the club decided to let off a smoke bomb. So I guess you could say the club went out with a bang. If you would have told me 15 years ago that this club would have had as much of an impact on my life as it has, I would have called you crazy. I love keeping in touch with all of the old waitresses, bouncers, bartenders, musician, regular customers, and of course the owner, Butch Weaver. Each and every one of the names mentioned has helped make me who I am today. With out Charley Magruders I would never know the meaning of Rock and Roll Family. For that I am grateful.
Charley Magruders, “the best rock in town” was not only the anthem to the club but it was the truth.
Join Stephanie, Butch and lots of other Magruders bands and regulars for the Reunion November 20th and Center Stage Atlanta~