The Twenty Grand
5020 14th Street (at Grand)
Detroit, MI

The Twenty Grand was a one of a kind entertainment center, featuring some of the best entertainers in the world. I had the pleasure of the 20 Grand Experience for a number of years and because of my personal relationship with the owners BK and Marty I was able to showcase several artists that I produced or managed; Emanuel Lasky, The Different Shades of Brown, The Monticello’s, Eddie Hill, Joe Matthews to name a few. BK was very instrumental in keeping R&B flowing in the city and it’s too bad that there has never been anything to date quite like it.

to purchase music click album cover

to purchase music click album cover

The 20 Grand was a place where people could go to dance, and see live performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There was also a club night for youths. On the first floor of The 20 Grand there was a bowling alley and a fireside lounge that was used as a jazz room. On the upper floor there was a room called the Gold Room, which consist of a large banquet and a cabaret hall which could seat up to 1,200 people. There was a studio inside The 20 Grand built for Ernie Durham, a famous Detroit radio personality. There was also the Driftwood Lounge which was located next to the Golden Room, which was where most of the performances and shows took place. Joe Johnson, Chuck Jackson and Stevie Wonder performed there. There was a motel located next door where couples would check in after a long night out at the club. The name of the motel was Twenty Grand Motel but it was not owned by the owner of The 20 Grand; it was owned by a man named Ed Wingate.

20GrandClub1For those of you that never had the opportunity to enter the doors of this Famous Venue; that had the 
likes of The Temptations, The Miracles, The Tops, Martha Reeves, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Jackson, The Flamingoes, Funkadelic, Edwin Starr, Bill Doggett, Jimmy Smith, The Spinners, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, The Contours, The Supremes, Billy Stewart, Joe Tex, Marlena Shaw, Brook Benton, and so many talented others; I almost feel sorry for you, because I don’t think it will ever get any better than the above shows that I personally had the good fortune to enjoy.

The 20 Grand opened it’s doors for the first time, way back in 1953. It’s owners, Bill Kabbush and Marty Eisner were a formidable partnership who had a love of Rhythm and Blues.

A fire destroyed the club in 1958, however, but instead of going out of business they rebuilt the 20 Grand into what would become one of the greatest institutions in the history of popular music.

In those days, many clubs would have exotic dancers on their bill. Lottie ‘The Body’ Graves, was seen as Detroit’s answer to Gypsy Rose Lee. Marvin Gaye and Anna Gordy would hold their wedding reception at the 20 Grand in 1960. Smokey and Claudette Robinson would also do their courting there.

I will cherish the memories of every artist that worked and walked through the doors of the 20 Grand Lounge.

Clay McMurray, former writer, producer, engineer for Motown Records.

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