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High Chaparral

7740 S Stony Island Ave.

At a time when the number of performance venues on the South Side seemed to be declining, Clarence Ludd stepped in and opened the High Chaparral in 1968. Throughout the 1970s, the venue became a crucial spot for local and touring soul, blues and jazz performers but also for the community surrounding it. Seating around 1,300 people, artists booked at the High Chaparral included The Chi-Lites, Count Basie, Smokey Robinson and The Jackson Five. Artistic training and bonds formed in the room later had larger impacts outside the city. Media personality Don Cornelius hosted weekly sets at the club as he was launching his television program, “Soul Train.” Benjamin Wright, who led the house orchestra, later became an arranger for Earth, Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson. Rising politicians and entrepreneurs also spent time at the High Chaparral to make contacts and be seen in the neighborhood.

– A.C. 

Caption: Former location of High Chaparral.

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