Wednesday, May 11, 2016

VINTAGE SAN DIEGO - Mickie Finn's Nightclub

Back in the mid '60s, when I was stationed in San Diego while in the Navy, I spent many a good night at Mickie Finn's.

"Mickie Finn's"


The first Mickie Finn's started on University Avenue in the Hillcrest section of San Diego, California, where Fred and Mickie Finn converted an old warehouse into a rambunctious "Gay '90s–Roaring '20s–Swinging '30s" nightclub.  Red-haired piano player Fred E. Finn (born October 4, 1938, in San Francisco) was a recent Business Administration graduate of San Jose State College, a base from which he and banjoist Red Watson played the San Francisco club scene from 1956 to 1959.  One detail he learned in college was location — he considered Washington and Hawaii for his planned nightclub, but chose San Diego, partly, he said, because of logistics — he couldn't afford to transport his collection of old nickelodeons, 1890s pictures, and various turn-of-the-century items, which he planned to use as "atmosphere" for his new club, anywhere else.

Mickie Finn's nightclub opened on October 28, 1960, with seating for 600 people — soon, over a thousand people would cram into the building each evening.  The first year, the nightclub grossed over $250,000.  Red Watson played his banjo with Fred at the nightclub until 1965, when he moved on to play in Las Vegas, preceding Fred's move by a few years.  Over the next fourteen years, four-million customers consumed 250,000 gallons of beer.  Fred would race a 1927 Seagraves fire engine at the El Cajon Speedway as a publicity stunt for the nightclub, as well as fire an old cannon after every score by the San Diego Chargers at all home games.  In the early 1970s, Fred and Mickie opened a second Mickie Finn's nightclub in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row, in the new Los Angeles Emporium.  The San Diego location closed in 1974.  Fred's blonde banjo-playing wife (born June 6, 1938, in Hugo, Oklahoma) always appeared in the show using the stage name 'Mickie Finn'.  She and Fred were divorced in 1973, and Fred's second wife Cathy took over the banjo duties from 1980 on.

There also was a Mickie Finn's TV Series.

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