Here is an excerpt from an article by Corry342 at Rock Archeology. Head over there for the rest of the story.
Of course, 4742 Mission Street was a building, and a building with a Use Permit for musical performances, so it is no surprise to find out that the club simply changed its name. However, since it changed to a Soul music club, and from there to a Latin (or Latin Soul) club, it dropped off rock historian radar. At the same time, many “ethnic” establishments did not advertise in the mainstream newspapers, so the newspaper research performed by rock historians like me turns up no trace of the club. In fact, however, it turns out that for at least several more years, 4742 Mission Street was The Ghetto Club, and it played an important part in San Francisco music.
I had seen peripheral references before to The Ghetto Club, and gathered that it was a Soul music club. However, I was reading a book called Voices Of Latin Rock, by Jim McCarthy with Ron Santos, about the history of Santana, Malo and Latin Rock music in San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s, and The Ghetto Club plays an important role. I was quite surprised to see an ad for the club in the book, (reproduced above), only to discover that the address was 4742 Mission Street.
Voices Of Latin Rock (published by Hal Leonard 2004) features remarkable research, with hundreds of unique interviews with musicians and friends who are rarely or never participants in typical rock narratives. The book offers an alternative universe to San Francisco music history, with only intermittent appearances from the usual suspects. The book is focused on personal narratives and musical reminiscence, and it is not focused on a careful timeline of people, venues and events (more’s the pity for me). However, it turns out that by 1969 The Ghetto Club was a multi-racial stew of Latin, Soul and Rock, with an apparently diverse crowd, very similar to the Excelsior neighborhood it was located in. A musician named Jose Simon recalls
The Rock Garden was a hard club, real party hardliners. The bouncers were two Samoan guys. They kicked the hell out of anybody trying to kick off in there. The Rock Garden was competition to the Nite Life [another club], and was probably the first rock club in the Mission area [the Excelsior is just South of the Mission District]. They had Big Brother, Janis Joplin, Mongo Santamaria (p.49).
The author ads “Later, the club changed hands and became The Ghetto.” Another musician, Richard Bean, chimes in
The Ghetto was originally a black club. Then the Latin thing started there. Abel And The Prophets were like the house band. Crackin was another band from around that time (p49)
Abel And The Prophets were a Latin-Rock-Soul fusion group, probably playing a lot of cover versions, but in their own style. Abel Sanchez was a young guitarist, who would go on to work with Naked Lunch in 1970 and then Malo in 1971, where he was an integral part of that band’s sound. In 1969, the other happening club was The Nite Life, apparently at 101 Olmstead Street (near San Bruno Avenue), on the other side of McLaren Park, where a band called The Aliens held court with an amazing mixture of funk, Latin and jamming. The Santana Blues Band evolved into Santana, not least by absorbing Chepito Areas from The Aliens.
Tags: Abel And The Prophets, Mission District, Mission Street, Richard Bean, The Ghetto Club, Voices of Latin Rock