Anyone who has lived near Connecticut, in the past 40-plus years has surely heard of Toad’s Place. Being a perfect fit for the city of New Haven, Toad’s has served as an ideal spot for musicians who prefer smaller venues. U2 played three time there including their ‘Boy tour’. In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was in New Haven and arrived at Toad’s unannounced, and got up and played. The surprises kept coming and the club was attracting big names, as well as up-and-comers. Names such as Billy Joel, REM, The Talking Heads, Blondie, BB King, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Bon Jovi, Santana, Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons, David Bowie, Buddy Rich, Cardi B, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and many, many more just kept coming to this historical venue. In 1989, the Rolling Stones played a surprise show on a Saturday night, giving 700 fans the night of their dreams. Nothing could have been better—the Rolling Stones in downtown New Haven was unimaginable! That is only a taste of the stories that are uncovered in this book. Randall Beach and Toad’s owner Brian Phelps recall the legendary shows and behind-the-scenes stories.
“I loved Toad’s Place! It gave aspiring artists and musicians in Connecticut a chance to discover who they were musically and the freedom to strengthen what they would need in order to have any chance of having a career in music. Looking back, I can clearly see that Brian applied the same kind of commitment, veracity, and focus that he did when I used to see him in the dojo (karate school). Long live Toad’s!”
“I’ve always said that the best way to tell if a band is any good or not is to hear them in a club like Toad’s Place. We love that joint!”
—Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News
About the Authors Brian Phelps was born in New Haven, CT. His music background was nothing more than listening to AM radio or watching an Elvis flick. He had no idea where his path in life was about to lead. After Brian met Mike Spoerndle, owner of the new Toad's Place in 1975, "Big Mike" invited Brian to start working at the club in 1976, following college. Brian accepted. Several years later, Mike made Brian an offer that they become business partners. In January 1995, Brian took control of the company and bought the rest of the business in 1998.
Brian later met with long-time associate Randy Beach and decided to write a book on his memoirs. He took ‘a road less traveled’, but one I think you will enjoy reading about.
Randall Beach was the rock music critic for the New Haven Register from 1978 to 1984. He later wrote about rock music for the New Haven Advocate, the Hartford Courant and Billboard magazine. He was also a reporter and columnist for the New Haven Register from 1997-2020. In addition, he has written the Beachcombing column for Connecticut magazine. He lives in New Haven.