First Avenue: Timeline

For immediate release

Release dated: 
February 8, 2019
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org 
Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

First Avenue: Timeline

The storied history of First Avenue began in 1937 with Minnesota-based transportation company, Greyhound Bus Lines.

  • Feb. 26, 1937  The Greyhound Bus Depot opens in Minneapolis at 701 First Avenue North.
  • April 3, 1970  A club set up in the old Greyhound space opens as The Depot with a performance by Joe Cocker.
  • June 12, 1971  The Depot closes due to financial troubles.
  • July 1, 1972  The club reopens as Uncle Sam’s under the national franchise American Events Company. Uncle Sam’s focuses on DJs playing disco music.
  • Nov. 28 and 29, 1979  The Ramones and Pat Benatar play successful back-to-back shows, signaling the club’s return to live music as a focus.
  • March 21, 1980  The 7th Street Entry opens with a performance by local punk rocker Curtiss A and the band Wilma and the Wilburs.
  • Jan. 28, 1980  American Events Company pulls out of the club, which is then renamed Sam’s.
  • March 9, 1981  Prince plays his first show at the club.
  • Dec. 31, 1981  The club changes its name, one last time, to First Avenue & 7th Street Entry.
  • Aug. 3, 1983  Prince records a live concert at First Avenue, a benefit show for the Minnesota Dance Theatre. An edit of the eleven-minute performance of “Purple Rain” from this show becomes the album version of the song.
  • July 1, 2000  Allan Fingerhut, along with Byron Frank, acquires the property of First Avenue & 7th Street Entry after having leased it from Ted Mann for thirty years.
  • Nov. 2, 2004  Fingerhut closes the club and files for bankruptcy.
  • Nov. 16, 2004  The club reopens, with Byron Frank as its owner.
  • 2013  First Avenue buys the Turf Club in St. Paul.
  • April 21, 2016  Crowds spontaneously descend on First Avenue and the streets outside the club to celebrate and mourn Prince, underscoring the intimate association between the venue and the star.

Timeline excerpted from “First Avenue & 7th Street Entry,” by Ehsan Alam, MNopedia, Nov 21, 2017.