A Cherry on Top

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Club manager shares his story in new book

By Stephen Lega

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lebanon was known for its club scene, and Obie Slater, 83, was in the middle of it all as the manager of Club Cherry.
Artists including Ike and Tina Turner, Otis Redding and B.B. King performed at Club Cherry in its heyday. The club, which was created in the 1950s, was located near where the Cardinal Den can be found today.
"Club Cherry was a party and a party place," Slater said.
Slater has now put much of that story on paper. He will be signing copies of his book, "Club Cherry: The Sweetest Stop on the Chitlin' Circuit," from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Marion County Public Library.
Club Cherry, along with the Golden Horseshoe, Club 68 and the Jane Todd Inn, made Lebanon a hopping place back then. According to Slater, all the clubs all stayed full on the weekends.
"My club wouldn't seat but 300 people," Slater said, "but a lot of the time I put 1,000 in it."
Slater as born in Mississippi, but moved as he took jobs in a saw mill in Tennessee and as a bell hop in Danville in 1995. Slater became the manager of Club Cherry in 1961, and he stayed in that position until 1972.
"It was already hot, but I took it and made it hotter," he said.
He said he'd never booked an act in his life when he became the manager, but his predecessor showed him the ropes. Unfortunately, many of his records from his time as the manager were stolen from him years later.
But he still has his memories of acts like Count Basie, Sam and Dave and Etta James. He even recalled that Jimi Hendrix came through with Jimmy Church and his band.
"I can't name 'em all," Slater said.
The book is priced at $29.95.