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.
In 1975, Brian Phelps owned a karate school in New Haven. It was around the corner from the newly opened French restaurant and music venue, Toad’s Place. One winter evening that year, a man broke the glass door of Phelps’ newly inherited enterprise and stole the sandwich board that served as an advertisement for his business. Phelps and a few friends went in search of the culprit. Ultimately, they found the sandwich board lying in front of Toad’s and decided to go inside. Phelps and his boys quickly found their perpetrator and were ready to take matters into their own hands. When Phelps agreed to come on as general manager for a year and he never left––eventually becoming the sole owner. Brian booked all of the bands and his stories are legendary!
Randall Beach is a longtime columnist and reporter for New Haven Register and columnist for Connecticut Magazine. He is work has been seen in US News & World Report, Seattle Times, Washington Times, and Hartford Courant. He has appeared on WCVB-TV (Boston, MA), WLWT-TV (Cincinnati, OH), KCRA-TV (Sacramento, CA), WISN-TV (Milwaukee, WI), WMUR-TV (Manchester, NH) and more.