Anyone who has lived near New Haven, Connecticut, in the past 40-plus years has surely heard of Toad’s Place. With a capacity of 750, Toad’s has served as the perfect spot for musicians who prefer smaller venues. U2 played one of their first US concerts there, on their Boy tour. In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was in New Haven and arrived at Toad’s unannounced, and got up and played. The surprises kept coming and the club was attracting big names, as well as up-and-comers. In 1989, the Rolling Stones played a surprise show on a Saturday night, giving 700 fans the night of their dreams. Nothing could have been better—the Rolling Stones in downtown New Haven was unimaginable! That is only a taste of the stories that are uncovered in this book. Randall Beach and Toad’s owner Brian Phelps recall the legendary shows and behind-the-scenes stories.
Brian Phelps was born in New Haven, Connecticut. His music background was nothing more than listening to AM radio or watching an Elvis Presley flick. He had no idea where his path in life was about to lead. Brian met Mike Spoerndle, owner of the new Toad’s Place in 1975. One year later Big Mike invited Brian to start working at the club, following college. Several years later, Mike made Brian an offer to become business partners. In January 1995 Brian took control of the company and bought the rest of the business in 1998. Brian later met with longtime associate Randall Beach and decided to write a memoir. He took “a road less traveled,” but one we think you will enjoy reading about.
Randall Beach was the rock music critic for the New Haven Register from 1978 to 1984, covering many shows at Toad’s Place. He later wrote about rock music for the New Haven Advocate, the HartfordCourant, and Billboard magazine. He was also a reporter and columnist for the New Haven Register from 1997 to 2020. In addition, he writes the “Beachcombing” column for Connecticut magazine. He lives in New Haven.