The Marble Bar, a Haven for Punks and Misfits, Closed Its Doors for Good 35 Years Ago
by Hope C. Tarr and Kendell Shaffer
Published April 20 in Baltimore Magazine
Excerpt: Talk to any Baltimorean who was a punk in the late ’70s and ’80s, and they will wax rhapsodic about the Marble Bar. It was the coolest place, with the coolest bands, and the coolest vibe—like nothing that came before it or since. Either you were lucky enough to have been there in person, or you missed out—your loss.
“It was a refuge for a lot of people, and nobody judged you,” explains David Wilcox, a musician and artist who created many of the bar’s iconic flyers with his brother, George. “You knew you were hiding in a safe place to be who you were. If you had a two-foot-high mohawk, nobody was going to bother you [there], but you walked out onto Eutaw or Howard Street and somebody might hit you in the head with a rock.”
You must remember, in the 1970s, disco was king. Top-40 cover bands and DJs kept bars full and crowds dancing. As a result, alternative bands, especially punk and New Wave acts like The Slickee Boys, Thee Katatonix, Root Boy Slim, Suicide Commandos—and even Talking Heads—struggled to find a place to play. But one Baltimore club in the basement of the historic Congress Hotel at 306 W. Franklin Street emerged to fill the void. And that was the Marble Bar.