O'Banion's was one of the oldest and longest running of the original punk clubs. Located on Clark St. and Erie, O'Banion's opened its doors in June of 1978. From time of its opening until its closing on February 3rd 1982, the time during O'Banions operation was often considered to be the zenith of the original Chicago punk movement. After O'Banions closing, the scene transformed to larger venues, more people and less of a close-knit community.
Every year, the members of the original O'Banion's scene have a reunion weekend in honor of their fallen venue. In 2005, the reunion took place at Club Foot and the musical portion was at The Note - acts such as the The Swingers, Tu Tu & The Pirates and Bonemen of Barumba played reunion shows.
(Note: Contrary to popular belief, O'Banion's was not the former location of Irish gangster Dion O'Banion's flower shop. O'Banion was a part owner of Schofield’s Flower Shop, located at 738 North State, directly across the street from Holy Name Cathedral. That was also the location of the Al Capone ordered hit that ended O'Banion's life.
661 N. Clark was, however, the former site of McGovern's Liberty Inn. The website for The Kerryman Bar and Restaurant, the current establishment at that address, quotes unnamed sources to the effect that "O'Banion wowed patrons with his beautiful Irish tenor voice at McGovern's Liberty Inn, where he worked as a singing waiter; later, he and his pals would rob drunken customers of their wallets and mug others outside")
- Address - 661 N. Clark
- Phone # - (312) 664-8585
- Hours - Open from 7am to 4am
Despite the swankiness of its current River North location, the area at the time of O'Banion's was something far different. Previous to it's incarnation as Chicago's #1 punk venue, O'Banion's building occupied a wide array of seedy businesses.
- The McGovern Saloon
- The Liberty Inn (Chicago's largest strip club in the 1950s)
- A lesbian bar
- A "rough" gay bar named PQs
- Roseann - Bartender
- Bobbi Bland - Bartender
- Nancy Rapchak - DJ
- Michael Balkunis - DJ
- Everett - A Real Pain
- Chuck Wassastrum - Doorman
- Larry Bartolli - Doorman
- Ken Ellis - Doorman
- Ken Barilich - Doorman
- Bob Bell - Doorman
- Bob Larson - Doorman
- Terry Fox - Manager / Booking Agent / DJ
- Rocky - Doorman
- The bartender would play Sham69's Sunday Morning Nightmare to let the patrons know that the crowd is shifting from a gay clientèle to a punk clientèle.
- Santiago Durango and Marko Pezzati first met at O'Banions - later forming Naked Raygun
- Ken Barilich went on to open mainstream night clubs including the Crobar chain.
The 2007 O'Banion's reunion took place on June 9th at Club Foot and had a better than usual turnout (though it's always packed there). The reunion doubled as a impromptu gather for many members of the ChicagoPunkPix message board.
ChicagoPunkPix webmaster Marie Kanger Born took photos of the event and has a great writeup in her online zine.
- October 31,1978 - Nodes
- October 5, 1980 - Strike Under, Six Feet Under
- February 23, 1981 - Naked Raygun, Silver Abuse
- June 24, 1981 - The Fix, The Subverts, Red Squad
- June 29, 1981 - Naked Raygun
- July 1, 1981 - Strike Under
- July 23, 1981 - Naked Raygun
- August 3, 1981 - Minor Threat, Youth Brigade, Necros
- August 5, 1981 - Husker Du
- August 29, 1981 - Effigies
- September 5, 1981 - Strike Under
- September 19, 1981 - The Dead Kennedys
- October 1, 1981 - Husker Du, Six Feet Under
- October 16-17, 1981 - Strike Under, Trouts, Direct Drive, Tense Experts
- October 29, 1981 - Direct Drive, T.S.O.L.
- October 31, 1981 - T.S.O.L., Naked Raygun, The Subverts
- November 1, 1981 - T.S.O.L., Direct Drive
- December 5, 1981 - Effigies
- December 12, 1981 - Direct Drive
- December 31, 1981 - Naked Raygun, Trial by Fire
- January 8, 1982 - The Subverts, Direct Drive
- January 22, 1982 - Toxic Reasons, Articles of Faith
- January 23, 1982 - Toxic Reasons