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From Rat To Riches

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 9, 2013 11:37 AM

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PowderRoomRatDeMilo.jpgInside the Powder Room at The Rat 

Photo by David DeMilo

Another weekend in Dirty Old Boston. It's 1977. Economy's in the tank. What's up with Double Digit Inflation? No jobs for recent college grads let alone those with high school diplomas. C.E.T.A. was the government's answer. Get your frustration out without spending a night in the tank. Go to The Rat.

House & Garden it wasn't, but it was home to many on weekends

Originally called The Rathskeller, The Rat was the primo Boston spot for simple three chord  garage/punk rock. No stadium anthems. No extended soloing. No power ballads. Blasphemy was a song longer than two minutes. Barry & The Remains played there as far back as '64 and '65 lining up fans from its location in Kenmore Square to Fenway Park. But it was during the mid 70's that the club really took off, earning a rep. for hosting bands that would become huge; Ramones, The Police, The Cars, Del Fuegos. More importantly it brought in local talent-- Blackjacks, Thrills, Human Sexual Response, Jerry's Kids, Unnatural Axe, more--and became the locus for a subculture that reverberated in Greater Boston for years to come. Its after effects are felt to this day at The Middle East, TT the Bear's and others throughout clubland. WBCN held Rumbles in the place in the early days. The club thrived until the mid 90's and gentrification. Tax-exempt BU crept into Dirty Old Kenmore Square and as a limited partner--out of the limelight, that is--participated in the buying out of the block on which the Rat sat. The club closed for good in 1997 and in 2000 it was demolished to make way for the glittering Hotel Commonwealth, a 148-room luxury hotel. Where you could once get a two dollar draft and slam dance, you can now order a $12 dollar designer cocktail and listen politely to piped in music. Be sure to leave the safety pins at home.

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Happy Weekending ... JB/
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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