Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel — The End Of An Era

The Providence music scene is taking another hit (WBRU, Aurora) and this one really hurts. Downtown Providence has had a Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel somewhere since 1975. There was a brief hiatus between Numbers I (the Conrad Building) and II (the Peerless Building) during which Rich Lupo indulged in some serious Scrabbling. He even installed a linoleum floor in the pattern of a Scrabble board at that Peerless location. Washington Street (the old Strand movie theater) is the third, and apparently final, location.

Back in 2015, on the occasion of the club’s 40th anniversary, Andy Smith interviewed Rich Lupo for the ProJo (which includes a great video by Sandor Bodo).

The club has changed over the past 40 years. The current Lupo’s, which holds up to 1,900 people, is more concert venue than bar.

“At the original Lupo’s, people just showed up on a Friday night, and knew they were going to hear a good band,” Lupo said.

Most people agree that the latest incarnation never had the exuberant character and shambolic divy-ness of the first two locations — and that makes it a little easier to say goodbye. And we still have The Met in Pawtucket which is one of the top places for seeing music around. After decades in the business, Mr. Lupo designed every square inch exactly the way he wanted it, and it is a gem. The Met is also the repository of the iconic Dan Gosch portraits of Elvis and Jimi and Janis from the original Lupo’s. So head over to the Met with some friends, drink a toast to the old Luposes, and reminisce a little. Remember that time we all thought we were in line for the bathroom . . .

Rich Lupo invested in downtown Providence before anyone or anything was happening down there. He established the beachhead. Big thanks for all the good times, Mr. Lupo!

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The Washington Street location will now be The Strand Ballroom and Theatre. Painters were working inside and out this morning. They said it would be opening Tuesday but it seems like the first event is Thursday. (Facebook page.)

[Additional Note: The Providence Journal wrote up the change saying that the club had been “renamed,” but that Mr. Lupo retained a stake in the place. In other words . . . there is no longer a Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in downtown Providence.]

The lobby ceiling has been painted gold-on-blue with a 1917 map of Providence by an artist who only signed it ‘Taylor.’ (It was hard to photograph but it’s quite lovely.)

14 thoughts on “Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel — The End Of An Era”

  1. Stephen Claridge

    I came over from England roadieing for Eddie and the Hot Rods, met Rich, when we headlined No ’77 had a great gig, left with a t-shirt that took 9 years to die. Moved back to the States in April ’78, and that summer I was back at Lupo’s working for The Ramones. Got another shirt, but we “lost” a cymbal, the stage being right by the front door. Remember great jukebox, only a nickel a play. Worked many varied gigs in Europe and the States but will always remember Lupo’s.
    Steve Claridge.

  2. Still missing you, Lupos. From the Misfits to Tricky to Jefferson Starship, rip.

  3. So much fun, go to the living room first then head over to see The Probers, and other fun bands, back to living room to visit old friends…

  4. Such good times. We’ll never know those times again. I’m glad I got to live it.

  5. Pati D'Amico

    I moved to Providence right around the time Lupos opened.It was a spectacle of oddballs;(the guy with the truck that hung outside of Lupos with long white hair), students…professors the gamut of all sorts of folks. My future husband and I lived on the 4th floor of the Conrad Building (we are artists)… We could go downstairs and watch shows …sometimes inside Lupos or in the window. So many good shows….The Young Adults …Joan Jett, Sun Ra….Warren Zevon
    Though a bit gritty downtown…I loved it …You could live well and not go broke…
    Was one of the best music clubs ever!!! PS Watch short film Cobrasnake for a Neckktie…about Bo Diddley and the Young Adults…Great little film!!!

  6. Train, The Commitments x2, Jeff Healy oh and The Halloween block parties! wow…its been fun!

  7. Man the first Lupo’s was a great place to see a band. I saw many bands Canned Heat and Richie Havens stand out over 42 years later

  8. Great memories at this place. Although the old place was a major deathtrap if there were a fire.

  9. Way back in the day, saw James Brown for the first time!! Wonderful

  10. Loved seeing good old MAX CREEK at Lupos.
    End of an era !! At least we still got creek. They play @ The met soon.

  11. David St-Pierre

    One excellent Club to hang. rich Lupo made it a fun place to enjoy music venue was excellent. Just lick it with said a Friday night at Lupo’s was always fun.

  12. Donald charpentier

    I’m going to miss lupos I played there in the seventies want to see some of the new venues recently going to miss that place

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