The Thirsty Whale
This article possibly contains original research. (March 2020)
The Thirsty Whale, which opened in 1975, was a rock music club at 8800 Grand Avenue, River Grove, Illinois. It brought in acts like Blue Öyster Cult, Molly Hatchet, Black Oak Arkansas, Extreme, Foghat, Johnny Winter, Mother Love Bone (who played their only Chicago show at the Whale), and Peter Criss. Survivor performed here monthly early in their career.
The club began to be a showcase for local Chicago area hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Enuff Z'nuff, D'Molls, 7th heaven band and others from the mid 80s through its closing in 1996. The height of the club was during the mid 1980s. Young bands would have the opportunity to open for national acts to grow their fan base and sometimes the attention of major record companies. Although the Thirsty Whale was a small club in size it had its own scene and from it grew a local music magazine, The Chicago Rocker, which was founded by Tony LaBarabra, one of the clubs many booking agents over the years. Chicago never had the metal scene that Los Angeles had but The Thirsty Whale was always a stopover for most bands playing the arenas in Chicago. If you were to ask a local rock musician from this era, they would say "Without The Thirsty Whale,there wouldn't have been a rock scene in Chicago".
The club closed its doors on June 2, 1996, and was demolished to make way for a BP gas station and McDonald's. LaBarbara has hosted a "Thirsty Whale Reunion" where some of the bands that played The Whale back in its heyday held a one night only reunion.