Tour of legendary Rockwood Club, benefit show set for July 14

The Rockwood Club, located in south Fayetteville, was an important live music venue, particularly in the early 1960s. It hosted legendary acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson and also The Hawks, a precursor to The Band. The new owner of the building hopes to restore the property and host live music at the site.

Photo by Dustin Bartholomew

Renovations are about to begin on the legendary Fayetteville music venue, The Rockwood Club. Before that happens, though, the current owners are planning to let locals get one last look at the historic venue before it gets a major facelift.

New owner Mark Risk will lead interested locals on a tour of the Rockwood Club at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 14 before he begins a renovation process in his bid to reopen the venue.

After that, a show and silent auction will take place at George’s Majestic Lounge to raise funds for a planned Rockwood Museum, featuring locals Earl & Them, The 1 oz. Jig, and The Boss Tweeds.

Risk purchased the former Rockwood Club location on South 24th Street in Fayetteville at the end of October, and announced his plans to reopen the club over the winter.

The building has a rich history. It opened in the late 1940s as a dance hall and live music venue popular with students at the University of Arkansas. Legendary architect Fay Jones claimed his consulting work on the design of the honky tonk was his first paid gig.

Over the next few decades, it was home to performances by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, Roy Orbison, Ronnie Hawkins, and was formative in the development of The Band, the legendary rock outfit behind songs such as “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek.”

Rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins of Huntsville bought the Rockwood Club in the early 1960s, performing there many times and booking influential bands he knew. His backing band, The Hawks, would later ditch their mercurial leader and briefly take the name Levon and The Hawks, using the name of their drummer, Arkansas native Levon Helm. They would soon just go by The Band and were hired to back Bob Dylan during his transition from acoustic to electric performances before breaking away for a successful solo run.

For more information about the tour, or the benefit show, email therockwoodclub(at)gmail(dot)com.