Hometown Heroes: Bruce John On Using Music To Make A Difference – Hartford Courant

Oh, the rock and roll memories Bruce John has. Driving down Route 6 in his Porsche, Muddy Waters riding shotgun. Eating lunch with Arlo Guthrie and his band and laughing so hard that milk came out of his nose. Calling Bonnie Raitt to do a show (a guaranteed sellout) so they could pay the mortgage on their nightclub, The Shaboo Inn. Walking upstairs after a Ramones concert to find that Joey Ramone had written in large letters on the bathroom wall: “Joey Ramone pissed here.”

From the early ’70s to the early ’80s, John and his friend David Foster owned the Shaboo Inn, a converted silk mill on Conantville Road behind where the Eastbrook Mall is now.

For John, who was 20 when he and Foster bought the venue, it was a true rock and roll lifestyle, a non-stop party with fast cars, drugs and alcohol and above all, the music. The great blues masters all came to Shaboo — Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, B.B. King. Dire Straits played there. Aerosmith played “Dream On” for the first time there. The Police, when nobody ever heard of them. The Cars. The Talking Heads.

Through most of it, John was in the throes of a cocaine addiction. Now, he said, he is making up for lost time.


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