One Day in March 1984: Local Punk Promoters Beg the Owner of a Just-Opened Northwest Portland Bar to Let a Few Bands Play Inside

FROM THE MUDDY BANKS OF THE WILLAMETTE: Nirvana's Kurt Cobain performing at Satyricon.

As told by Ed Jones, the original booker at Satyricon, the legendary Portland club where Kurt met Courtney and where Foo Fighters played their first show:

"Portland was in a recession in the early '80s, and musicians had a hard time. There were Top 40 clubs, and there were a few jazz clubs and a few blues clubs, but there were no real clubs for our kind of underground punk music. 

"I met a guy who owned a coffeehouse called the 9th St. Exit, and the guy told me if I could get enough tickets sold, he'd let me use the adjoining venue for free. We realized we could rent halls, get a bunch of bands and do one-off shows. I always had ambitions of grandeur, of doing bigger productions and not just playing in somebody's basement, and that was the only real way.

"My friend Scott Olson and I formed a production company called New Total Productions, and we were renting the Northwest Service Center on 18th and Everett. We had a show booked one night in March of '84. That evening, the security for the building says, 'We need a $250 deposit,' which we didn't have. 

"George [Touhouliotis] had opened the Satyricon within the last month. He had been doing poetry readings there. There was a little dinky stage, and there was a bunch of cocktail tables in the back room where the band area was. It wasn't really set up for music, but we needed a last-minute spot to do it, and George says, 'Sure, bring them on down here.' 

"The scene was small, y'know. You'd be rolling through town on the TriMet bus and go, 'There's a guy with a leather jacket. I know that guy!' We had about 100 people, and it came off well. George was really excited. He had everything in place, in that his brother owned the building, so there were no problems with noise complaints, and he was into artistic, radical music. He never went in the back and listened to it, but he thought it was cool. George had been a student at Portland State in the '70s, and he'd been around for the war protests and things like that, so he was a leftist in the old tradition. He liked radical politics, and he was into it without having much of a connection to the musical part, just the ideas behind it.

"We didn't make much money, the bands played for free, but it was such a success that, within a week or two, there was a second show, a third show, then it became pretty much every night of the week. 

From the archives:
October 27, 2010:An oral history of Satyricon

October 16, 2013: An alternate oral history of Satyricon

1974: Mt. Hood Freeway Killed    

1975: Soccer City, USA  |  A Vet Shuts Down Nuclear Power 

1976: A Home for Refugees  |  Intel Changes the Economy 

1978: Bill Walton Sits Down

1979: Busing Ends in Portland Schools | Oregon Wine Gets Famous

1982: Courts Pave Way for Nudie Bars | The Other Daily Paper Folds

1984: Satyricon's First Show | A Bartender Becomes Mayor | The Air Jordan Saves Nike

1985: First Female Police Chief Ousted | Wieden+Kennedy's Most Important Ad

1986: Dark Horse Comics' First Issue 

1988: Inaugural Oregon Brewers' Fest | Rise of Hate Groups

1989: NW Rowhouses Burn  |  Gus Van Sant's Portland Hits Screen

1990: Our First Great Restaurant  | Oregon's Longest Tax Revolt

1991: Cleaning up the Willamette

1995: Bicyclists Sue Portland

1996: Vera Katz Builds a Wall | March to Save City Nightclub  | Powell's Rebuffs Amazon

1997: Path Cleared for Pearl District

1999: Stumptown Coffee Opens  |  Fight Club Hits DVD

2000: Largest Union Pension Fraud Ever

2003: Fred Meets Carrie  |  Suicide of Elliott Smith

2004: Gay Marriage Legalized (Briefly)  | Goldschmidt Exposed  | Eastside Portland Rises

2006: The Death of James Chasse Jr.

2008: Our Fanciest Restaurant Ever Bombs

2009: Sam Adams Admits Lying

2011: Occupy Portland 

WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.