The stars on First Avenue is Minneapolis’ answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. First Avenue is an iconic music venue offering a 1,550-person capacity and a calendar filled with over 200 shows each year. Opening in 1970, it is now one of the longest-running independently operated clubs in the United States.
In 1984, First Avenue painted its first set of approximately 425 stars. In the year 2000, they repainted to update the list and revisited again in 2010. Their next scheduled alteration is next year in 2020 when the club will celebrate its 50 year anniversary. Each star is white, except for one golden star. The gold star currently belongs to Prince, who claimed First Avenue as his favorite club.
The requirements to earn a star on the famous mural is first to perform a sold out show. Second, a secret committee then negotiates around the relationship the club has with the band, and the historical significance of the performance and their message. About 10% of the stars are reserved for local performers, and it is important to the club to maintain their positive relationships with them. Also, not every star is a musician. For example, Dave Chappelle received a star in 2016 after her performed six sold-out shows. At least two of the stars were awarded retroactively to performers who delivered shows prior to the stars being painted in 1984. Both U2 and Ray Charles, who performed in 1980 and 1982, respectively, now have stars.
In the You Tube clip below, one of the "secret committee members" of the First Avenue stars selection panel sheds some light on the topic.
A primary difference between these sets of stars, and the ones lining the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the connection to the independent arts that First Avenue maintains. Many musicians and artists are talented, but might never receive the acclaim to reach Los Angeles. As an independent club, First Avenue creates visibility that entices and inspires the thriving Minneapolis art scene.
Cover image "7th Street Entry/First Ave" by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.