Located in south Fayetteville (380 W 24th Street) in what appears at first glance to be a rather unassuming Arkansas native stone building, the legendary Rockwood Club brought in the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Wanda Jackson during the 1950s and 1960s. Levon Helm and The Hawks regularly played the Rockwood prior to being hired by Bob Dylan as his backup band that was eventually renamed The Band.
The original roadhouse was built in 1947 and was the first paid architectural project for E. Fay Jones, celebrated Arkansas architect and apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. Strategically located just outside of the Fayetteville city limits at the time, the Rockwood didn’t have to comply with local ordinances that then made it illegal for establishments to allow simultaneous dancing and sale of alcohol.
Through the late 1970s, the Rockwood Club changed hands and morphed into various clubs before becoming its last music-focused incarnation, St. Michael’s Disco Alley. Following the disco era, the building saw a variety of business uses before being purchased in 2018 by Mark Risk, a local real estate broker who actually worked at the disco club as a college student.
Risk is committed to celebrating the Rockwood’s rightful place in rockabilly history, and has gathered a group of local advisors to help him restore the building in a way that reflects its glory days as authentically as possible. The group is actively seeking photographs from the 1940s through the 1960s to assist them with recreating the look and feel of the original space. Ultimate plans for the venue are still evolving, but live music and a nod to the illustrious history of the Rockwood Club will be key elements.
If you or someone you know may have old photos or memories to share from the venue’s music club days—or wish to stay informed about restoration progress, you are encouraged to visit The Rockwood Club Facebook page.