Boston Tea Party (concert venue)

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Boston Tea Party
Address 53 Berkeley Street
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Type music venue
Opened 1967
Closed 1971

The Boston Tea Party was a concert venue located on 53 Berkeley Street (later relocated to 15 Lansdowne Street in the former site of competitor, The Ark) in Boston, Massachusetts. It operated from 1967 and closed in early 1971, due partly to the increasing cost of hiring bands who were playing more and more at large outdoor festivals and arena rock concerts.[1]

The venue became associated with the psychedelic movement, being similar in this way to other contemporary rock halls such as New York's Fillmore East and Electric Circus, San Francisco's Fillmore West, and Philadelphia's Electric Factory.[1]


Originally the site of a Unitarian meeting house, and then a street mission, the location was later converted into a venue that showed underground films, before being bought by Ray Riepen and David Hahn and converted again into a concert venue. It opened as a rock music hall on January 20, 1967.[1]

Originally playing host to exclusively local acts, the venue quickly began to attract performances by many famous artists, including Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The J. Geils Band, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John, The Buddy Miles Express, Charlie Musselwhite, Jeff Beck, The Who, The Byrds, Santana, Taj Mahal, Ten Years After & Sly and the Family Stone.

The cost of admission at the time ranged between $3.00 and $3.50 a show, although The Who exacted a premium for their performance of Tommy, charging $4.50. Light shows designed by Roger Thomas, John Boyd, Deb Colburn, and Ken Brown and performed by Lights By The Road provided the lighting and other effects for many of the performances. Above the stage, a distinctive arched inscription reading "PRAISE YE THE LORD", remaining from the hall's original use, provided a backdrop.

The Velvet Underground shows[edit]

The Tea Party was the site of a Velvet Underground show whose ill-placed bootleg became known as the "Guitar Amp Tape." Another infamous concert featuring The Velvet Underground (headliners) and the recently signed MC5, had taken place at the Tea Party in December 1968. The MC5 opened with their high energy performance, playing to a room full of Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers (known primarily as "Motherfuckers"). After the MC5's energized performance, one of the Motherfuckers got on stage and started haranguing the audience; directing them to "...burn this place down and take to the streets..." After that display of anarchy, Lou Reed addressed the audience, telling their fans that "...we (Velvet Underground) have nothing to do with what just happened...we think it's dumb..." Sterling Morrison (Velvet Underground's bass & guitar player) is on record as saying that he "...always enjoyed the MC5 musically, but didn't like that they were surrounded by and exploited by leeches."

The early history of this venue is documented in the book Mansion on the Hill by Fred Goodman.[2]


  • The UAW/MF's were in Boston to raise defense monies for one of their own; a guy who got into a beef with some U.S. soldiers and stabbed one of them.
  • The Grateful Dead played six shows there: 10/2/69, 10/3/69, 10/4/69, 12/29/69, 12/30/69, and 12/31/69.[3]
  • Calendar of performances by group and date on "The American Revolution" documentary film web site.



  1. ^ a b c New England Music Scrapbook: Boston Tea Party
  2. ^ Goodman, Fred: Mansion on the Hill, Trafalgar Square (1997), ISBN 978-0-679-74377-4.
  3. ^ The Deadlists Project at