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Club Ponytail

Harbor Springs

Club Ponytail Stage

“Clubbing in the Northland” – the story of Club Manitou & Club Ponytail

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James Osterberg (Iggy Pop) Connection to Club Ponytail.

The Iguanas was a garage rock band formed during 1963 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was one the first bands of James Osterberg, now better known as Iggy Pop. Osterberg was the drummer of the band while in high school, and got his nickname “Iggy” from the name of this band. Also, an exhaustive compilation in several volumes (both LPs and CDs) by Greg Shaw of recordings by the Stooges was also named for this band and called The Iguana Chronicles.

The line-up was:

soon augmented by

They originally performed in high school dances, fraternity houses and later clubs in Ann Arbor.

In 1965 they were an opening act for bands such as Four Tops, the Shangri-Las and the Kingsmen at Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, a local resort area. Osterberg left the group soon afterward, and with another drummer (Tom Rolston) they sought but did not get a recording contract.

Who has a list of bands acts that appeared at the Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs MI during the 1960s?

Answer:
Larry Messmore, 239 537-0677
I remember Paul and Paula, Conway twitty, Brian Highland, Beach Boys, Dawn.
At that time the Dugless’s own the Pony Tail. Their daughter dated a friend of mine, Packey Warner.
I hope you can use this.
The name is actually Douglas’s and I did not date him I just knew Paxton Lee Warner the III. Linda
Michael Corpe: These bands also played there; The Animals, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (one of the best concerts I ever attended), Chad and Jeremy, Jan & Dean, Them (with lead singer Van Morrison) who actually played a song they sold as a jingle for a toothpaste: McCleans. Fun place with an interesting history. The Douglas’s son was my age. The owned two large Saint Bernard dogs, one of which ate one of my mittens. The Douglases were kind enough to return the glove when the dog passed it a few days later. Didn’t keep it. Will post more bands as I remember.
Directions to Club Ponytail:
This is the best information I can give you on how to go to where the Club Ponytail use to be. When you start down Highway M-119, going to Harbor Springs, you will pass a small airport. Just after the airport, by a red light, you will see a Best Western Hotel. If you continue past the Best Western to the 1st road that goes north (I don’t know the name of it), and take a right (the only way it goes), and go approximately 1/4 of a mile, you will see another road, which goes south off of the road you are on. You must hang a sharp left and go down that road, south. That road use to run directly into M-119, but they made a new entry road and closed the old “Ponytail Road” off. It is now a dead end. I believe the last house on the West side of the street, is the new owners of the Ponytail property. If you look carefully through the trees, you will see the wall still standing.

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Geoff Guillaume from an e-mail of March 16, 2013

The place was special to all of us.  I started going there in 1962 or 3 (if it was open then)  Met my first real love there, unfortunately did not follow through with that relationship as I  should have – probably would have been the best thing I could have done, but everything has its time and  place I suppose. If Cindy is reading this, I truly mean that.  She knows it too I would guess.  I have great memories of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas and their great looking daughter Linda.  The service the Douglas’s offered to the youth of the area by keeping us off the street and not driving under the influence was huge.  I am sure many of us are alive today as a result of their kindness and strength.  I know my parents were friends of them and greatly appreciated what they did for all of us.

Tunnels? Club Ponytail

We were told, and I’m pretty sure it could be proven true, that when The Club Ponytail was a night club called “Club Manitou” that it was a hang out for several gangsters of the time. Al Capone, it has been said, frequented this club on a regular basis. We found an old I.O.U. card, a car check claim tab a Poker chip, and a Drink Menu from “Club Manitou.” So I would assume that at one time, Club Manitou had some kind of gambling  going on
The Kingtones, who played at the Club Ponytail the entire summer of 1963, also heard about the tunnels. We were told that they had a tunnel that went from Club Manitou to the Harbor Springs Airport. Years later, we were told that this was not True. We did see, what looked like a tunnel, but it was only about 12 feet long; Then you came to a wall. We never saw any other tunnel and obviously never went into another tunnel. I wonder if the other bands, that said they saw and went into the tunnels, saw the same 12 foot tunnel we saw and went into that.
Maybe this might help Doug. The Proprietors of the “Club Manitou,” were Al & Jean Gerhart. That’s all I know about  Club Manitou.
Also, the South side to the club, had a movable wall that they could move back and forth to make the club look full, even when there were not many people there. On nights when the crowd was small, they would move the wall forward, so instead of people sitting at 20 tables, while 60 tables were empty, they would move the wall forward so that 20 people were sitting at tables and only 4 tables were empty. If, as the night went on they needed more tables, they would simply move the wall back a little which would give more room for additional tables.
They also had red, expensive curtains across the stage. I think I might still have one. They were in the back room of the Club Ponytail. I needed some kind of cloth to cover the back of my organ. The owner of the Club Ponytail at that time, told me I could have one to cover the back of my organ. If I do have one left, It won’t be in good condition.
Bruce Snoap – Kingtones keyboard player

Beach Boys/Kingtones Jam Sessions

 

Directions to Club Ponytail:

I believe it was the summer of 1964 or 1965, that the Club Ponytail built a huge outdoor dance area surrounded by a cement wall. I’m not exactly sure why Stan Douglas, the owner of the Club Ponytail, did it. I suspect that he wanted more room so he could get more people to pay, making him more money.

I don’t remember the year, but the Club Ponytail burned down to the ground. Many people thought Stan set the place on fire for the insurance money; I guess we will never really know what happened. Anyway, the stone wall is still up and the “Basement Night Club” still exsist. To my understanding, the new owners of the Club Ponytail’s property is very interested in the history of the Club Ponytail and is interested in talking to anyone that might have pictures or information about the Club.

This is the best information I can give you on how to go to where the Club Ponytail use to be. When you start down Highway M-119, going to Harbor Springs, you will pass a small airport. Just after the airport, by a red light, you will see a Best Western Hotel. If you continue past the Best Western to the 1st road that goes north (I don’t know the name of it), and take a right (the only way it goes), and go approximately 1/4 of a mile, you will see another road, which goes south off of the road you are on. You must hang a sharp left and go down that road, south. That road use to run directly into M-119, but they made a new entry road and closed the old “Ponytail Road” off. It is now a dead end. I believe the last house on the West side of the street, is the new owners of the Ponytail property. If you look carefully through the trees, you will see the wall still standing.

17 Responses to Club Ponytail

  1. Mark Morton says:

    I was across the bay for the concert- we could hear just fine!
    Others I remember included ? and the Mysterians and Bob Seger ( in his 2+2 days
    before he became big.

  2. Lee Graham says:

    The Carnegie Building is the old library – 451 E. Mitchell St. Petoskey, MI 49770 (next to the Crooked Tree Arts Center). The presentation, “Clubbing in the North” is being made by Rick Wiles. It will include history of the building, from the days Of The Club Manitou (1929-1933) and continue with The Club Ponytail (1962-1969). further information is available by contacting Wiles at MNR.RAWILES@gmail.com

  3. Lee Graham says:

    I hope that anyone with an interest in the Club Ponytail (and Club Manitou) will attend the presentation on January 27th at The Carnegie building (old library) in Petoskey. It’s at 7p.m. – bring any mementos you might have!

    • Paul Magnan says:

      Lee Graham..

      The presentation Jan 27th in Petoskey. What’s being presented?
      I was one of the bands that played Club Ponytail regularly and would be very interested in attending.Can you share more specifics ?

      Thank You .

      • Lee Graham says:

        The Carnegie Building is the old library – 451 E. Mitchell St. Petoskey, MI 49770 (next to the Crooked Tree Arts Center). The presentation, “Clubbing in the North” is being made by Rick Wiles. It will include history of the building, from the days Of The Club Manitou (1929-1933) and continue with The Club Ponytail (1962-1969). further information is available by contacting Wiles at MNR.RAWILES@gmail.com

    • Doug Taylor says:

      Lee Graham, I’m going to try to make it, but first, what is the address of the Carnegie Building? Also, like Paul Magnan mentioned, what is being presented? I know a lot of people that are interested in the Ponytail and if you have something more than say a get together, maybe some of these people will consider coming! Just saying.

      And by all means please use our website to promote such presentations. Go to the sidebar on the right, scroll down to “Other Stuff” click on “Reunions” and leave your comments about the Ponytail!!! Note: By all means keep using the Ponytails page also! Admin, Doug Taylor

      http://www.westmichmusichystericalsociety.com/reunions/

  4. Allen Sevener says:

    Jeff and everyone. I worked for a printing company in Petoskey from 1963 to late 1968 and we printed the posters for the Ponytail. I did every poster for that period as far as I know. I was out there at least two to three times a week from 1964 to then. I was in a tunnel that went went down some really steep stairs and then leveled off. someone said twelve feet for the one they were in but this one was much longer than that and very wet.

  5. Geoff Guillaume says:

    Spent many enjoyable nights there from 62-66. Just talking with some folks about that the other night over coffee. I live about 1/4 mile from there now and can walk through the woods to reach it. The old outside wall with barbed wire on top still stands along with the band shell and main doors. I agree that it is a shame there isn’t a venue like that around anymore – times have changed too much. I don’t think it would be financially possible nor legally wise to have that type of entertainment available now. Stan and Jean Douglas were special people, they really cared about the kids that became part of their extended family – and they treated us all with respect.

  6. joanz says:

    Judy.. Enjoyed seeing your post about the Shillings, the house band at the Ponytail. Mr. Douglas told them if they won a battle of the bands in Gaylord he would hire them for the summer. The top local band at the time was The Big Red Apples. The Shillings won. Like you, I also dated one of those boys (keyboard )that summer. We’ve been married 45 years. The band stayed with Vasco’s family in Boyne City that summer. Pat was a school teacher in Tucson and sadly he passed away a few years ago.

  7. Judy says:

    I used to go to the Ponytail in the mid to late 60′s. I remember many groups that played. The house band the year I went all the time was “The Shillings” fron Tucson, AZ. Dated the lead guitar player Pat. Best times of my life. It is a shame the kids today don’t have that kind of access to groups and music.

  8. Ken Settle says:

    In 1963 or so, there was a black band that played at the Club Pony Tail. It consisted of David Ruffin before he joined the Temptations, Little Reuben Fisher on guitar, Melvin Davis on drums, Tony Newton on sax, and Joe Peel on bass. Years ago, I was friends with Reuben, and he could not remember the name of this group, but he gave me a photo of them onstage at Club Ponytail. I later purchased a different pose of the group which was in the files at Gathman’s Photo, which was a Harbor Springs studio. Does anyone know anything about that group? Of course, Ruffin joined the Tempts, Melvin Davis and Tony Newton became very well known Motown session guys, and Little Reuben lead various bands for decades in Detroit. I’d love any memories anyone may have of this band!

  9. Lee Graham says:

    I’ve started a Facebook page “Club Ponytail Memories” hoping to connect with fellow enthusiasts – what fun we had!

  10. Paul Magnan says:

    I was in the Boyfriends and we played Club Ponytail many times. We played indoors and outside. We also played opening for the Amboy Dukes at the club. We were the first band to play outside after the club burned down, and you could see all of the floors underneath the club, seeming to verify the rumors that this was a hideaway for mob members.
    Always a great crowd and a fun place to play at.

  11. Teri says:

    I am doing research on the Club Ponytail and the establishments that were visited by Al Capone. Are there any pictures available of the homes, events and underground tunnels that were used by Capone?

  12. Tom Kirby says:

    I was the drummer who played with Tonto and the Renegades. We played Club Pontail several times. in the 60′s. I don’t remember the dates, but I remember one of the times we were on the mainstage on a weekend between Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels (I believe) and the Beach Boys. The Ponytail was one of the premiere venues in the state. It was once a hideout for Al Capone and had underground tunnels and a bunker. We were given a tour of the place. What a history there. I have a picture of us there, but I don’t know how to post it on this site.

  13. Chromex says:

    MC5 played there in the late 60s

    • Tim Jardine says:

      I remember the night well. Stan had to come out and tell MC5 to turn down the volume; the second time we were treated to an amazingly loud version of Kick Out the Jams.

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