Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Common sense suggests that the pinnacle of venues in which to experience a musical event would certainly be located in an urban environment and not a sleepy, seasonal community on the coast of New Hampshire. The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom remains an exception to the norm. For over a century, The Casino has brought the “A list” aristocracy of all musical idioms to New Hampshire, to the enjoyment of millions who’ve attended a concert.

The gathering place officially opened in 1899 with the intent to persuade tourism and business to the seacoast. 1927 saw the addition of the ballroom itself, which then gave birth to the Casino Ballroom, boasting the largest dance floor in New England. Coinciding with the advent of the Big Band Era, everyone from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby and Count Basie headlined the Casino. For the next 30 years, the bands and orchestras continued to perform as ownership changed hands.

As the 50’s grew into the 60’s, rock and roll began to rear its head on the coast of the mighty Atlantic. From Motown to New York, from the Midwest to the California coast, across the pond to Great Britain, every genre of folk, R&B and rock graced the stage of the Casino. The Supremes, Four Tops, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Beach Boys, Kingston Trio, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix all performed at the Casino. It all came to an abrupt end when over 3000 ticketless fans showed up for a Jethro Tull show. The ensuing chaos overwhelmed the building and rock was dead in Hampton for the time being.

The mid-70’s brought new ownership, a redesign, a new name and a new strategy. Club Casino was born. Working at catching rising and falling stars, the idea was to build back the Casino’s reputation within the industry, eventually leading them in obtaining bigger stars at their peak. Household names such as Roy Orbison, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Ray Charles and George Carlin were sprinkled amongst the insurgent U2, Huey Lewis and Tina Turner before they rocketed to stardom.

As the 80’s morphed into the 90’s and beyond, the Casino Ballroom was reborn, bringing not just and old moniker but new owners and additional change to the facility, forming a new framework of operations and commitment. National touring acts once again frequented the Casino, with names like Meatloaf, Robert Cray, Sammy Hagar, Hall & Oates, Santana, The Righteous Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and far too many more to list.

Today, The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom enters its third century of operations while being one of the best venues to perform by artists and one of the best venues to see a show by fans.
(Lew DiTommaso)

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