First Avenue and 7th Street Entry are a cornerstone of the Midwest music scene, and serve as an historic landmark of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nightclub has been the jumping point for virtually every single band to come out of the Twin Cities, including The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Prince, Soul Asylum, Semisonic, Atmosphere, Dillinger Four, The Jayhawks and many others. Its stage has been graced by a tremendous number of important bands/artists from 1970 onward, as exemplified by the silver stars that adorn the black building's exterior. First Avenue also appeared in Prince's 1984 film Purple Rain.
Initially named The Depot (after the building's former function as a Greyhound bus station), the club got its start when owner Alan Fingerhut opened the doors for the very first time on April 3, 1970 to showcase a two set evening with Joe Cocker. A few years later, as disco reigned over the land, the venue was renamed Uncle Sam's and was part of a national franchise of the American Events Company. Steve McClellan and Jack Meyers, the club's financial manager, took the driver's seat in 1978, shortening the club's name to Sam's for a brief time before finally renaming it as First Avenue. McClellan opened the 7th Street Entry in 1981.
The club was shut down by then owner Alan Fingerhut in late autumn of 2004 for financial reasons, causing panic to strike in music fans in Minnesota and elsewhere. Fortunately, the issues were quickly resolved (even the judge presiding in the bankruptcy case noted, "I gather there is some urgency about this"), and the club was reopened by co-owners Meyers, McClellan, and long time advisor Byron Frank, resuming shows after only one week. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak promised to do a stage dive at the first show after reopening, but ended up dropping the idea when he discovered that the show would feature the band Gwar. Rybak had previously crowd surfed at a "Rock for Democracy" event earlier in the year.
Locally, First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry are respectively referred to as The Mainroom, and The Entry.