The long-gone bars, honky-tonks and saloons I grew up in are more than memories.

When I was on the women’s panel at the Tucson Festival of Books last March, I went off on a tangent about all the bars and honky-tonks I played in Tucson when I attended the University of Arizona. The list, off the top of my head, included The Doll House, The Embers, The Cedars, The Hi Ho Club, The Dunes and the Poco Loco. And these are just the bars on Speedway Boulevard that I played in. I also played quite a bit in the VFW at Speedway near Alvernon, but that is another story and venue. The main point is, most of these legendary bars are gone. History.

Same for The Stumble Inn, The Oxbow, The Maverick, The Longhorn, The Hayloft, The Red Rooster and the Moose Lodge on Wilmot Road. Most are gone and paved over.


Drummer In Darkness – From 1963 to 1993 I spent most nights playing drums in both Rock and Country groups in bars all across Arizona. I learned a couple of valuable lessons which I have passed on to my kids: always give the musicians a hand, and—at the end of the night—a tip. Even the bad ones deserve it.


In my old stomping grounds up in Mohave County, I played in The Smokehouse, The Sportsman Lounge, The Kingman Club, The Elks, The American Legion and even behind the bait shop at Katherine’s Landing. With perhaps the exception of The Smokehouse and The Sportsman Lounge, all of these stalwart watering holes are still standing.

In Phoenix, I played at the Fifth National Bank, JD’s In The River Bottom, The Library (a clever name for a bar near ASU), Dooley’s and perhaps the most famous of all, Mr. Lucky’s.

What this long list of has-been and dried-up watering holes from my misspent youth shows is just how special the ones that have survived are—and many were conceived even earlier—and are still standing. Just in my neck of the woods, that would include The Palace Bar in Prescott, The Museum Club in Flagstaff and The Crystal Palace in Tombstone. Of course, there are many more throughout the West and we have produced for you a list of our favorites—bar none!—on page 20.


Mr. Lucky’s in Phoenix, Arizona, featured country upstairs and rock ‘n’ roll downstairs.
Illustrations by Bob Boze Bell

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