Excerpt from “Only the Strong Survive”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “Only the Strong Survive”:

So, there we were. It was another Friday night, about 11 p.m.,
and the dance floor was packed. The music was hot and loud,
and of course, the liquor was flowing. The band’s rocking the
place. The cash registers seem to ring in time to the music. It’s a
beautiful fall night in October 1979. What could go wrong?

Glancing up from my post at the bar, I suddenly saw—to my
horror—Bergenfield police officers rushing the front and back
doors, shotguns drawn.

Rewind to October 19, 1978. Jerry Randolph, age 28, a local
ne’er-do-well and motorcycle club dude from nearby Englewood,
got into it with another customer and was tossed out by bouncer
Christos Eftychiou, age 24. This was in the club’s earlier incarnation—
a place called Peanuts Tavern—about a year before we
bought the bar, but the memories were still fresh. Trouble doesn’t
care whose name is on the deed.

Excerpt from “‘DIVO’ LIVE! But not at Circus-Circus”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “‘DIVO’ LIVE! But not at Circus-Circus”:

It was 1980, a short time before Devo released their third album
Freedom of Choice, which included their smash hit “Whip It,”
when my brother shared some exciting news. “I just booked
Devo. You know—the group that wears the flower pots on their

By this time, we already had an impressive resume of
national talent under our belts, and with Devo added, it would
only enhance our reputation as a cozy, small- to mid-sized venue
with big acts. This rising punk/ new-wave band had already performed
to a national audience on Saturday Night Live, so scoring
them at Circus-Circus was good news.

As customary, the management of Devo sent their tour manager
to check out the venue, inspect the facility, and go through a
checklist of items such as ample power, stage access, and basic
logistics for a show. My brother met with the band’s manager on
a Wednesday afternoon. Within five minutes, he received some
bad news.

Excerpt from “Daredevils and Snake Charmers”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “Daredevils and Snake Charmers”:

We kind of thought of ourselves as trailblazers. Everyone
says this, and every bar would like to think this, but we
had all the crazy stuff going on before most clubs. Clearly, our
experience showed how crazy we were. But in a money contest,
my cash is often on the guy with googly eyes in a suit made of
buffalo wings, and springs on his shoes. That’s the guy who will
do anything.

We always wanted to be the first at everything. Sometimes it
paid off, and sometimes it sank out of sight. But as my father
always said, “If you want to launch big ships, you have to go
where the water’s deep!” We spent years searching for deeper

Usually bands tried to pass me a demo tape, because they
wanted to play at the club or maybe just open for one of the big
acts. Even though we usually booked through agencies, I felt
everyone deserved a few minutes of my time, even though my
brother had the final say regarding who would play at our club.
He had a great track record of delivering huge talent, and I wasn’t
going to second-guess him.

Excerpt from “On With the Show, This is It”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “On With the Show, This is It”:

There was a local bar on Washington Avenue in Bergenfield
called “Peanuts”—it had a jukebox, a bar, two pinball
machines, and two cigarette machines. We were opening up a
rock and roll club. Would we really need much else? But we
didn’t. It was 1979. I was 25, my brother 20, and my father, 54.
We saw opportunity.

It wasn’t really like we were kids. I had worked at something,
anything, since I was in grade school. Our family had experience
with the little diner here, the little luncheonette there. We
worked hard. I could flip a pretty mean hamburger, and I was
good with money. My brother knew every band. To our young
minds, it all made sense.

Excerpt from “Blow Is Everywhere”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “Blow Is Everywhere”:

It’s 1979. Cocaine, that insidious and powerfully addicting nasal
decongestant, is flowing in and around the club scene just as fast
and plentiful as water from a faucet. It was difficult to find anyone
who worked in or near the club scene who wasn’t using the drug regularly.
The 2001 film, Blow starring Johnny Depp, lays the facts out
pretty well. It’s based on the true story of Carlos Lehder and his
Medellin cartel, which specialized in smuggling cocaine from
Columbia to the US on a huge scale. It was primarily responsible for
most of the white powder coming into the US.

But they had help…everywhere. Even in my club. See, every
joke, every cliché about the era is unfortunately true. If you were
there, you know what I’m talking about. In the 1970s cocaine
emerged on the scene as the new and fashionable drug that provided
energy, prestige, and an invincible feeling. It was the drug of choice
for entertainers, their fans, business people, Wall Street honchos,
and their wealthy neighbors. College campuses all over America saw
an explosion of usage between 1970 and 1980 and the drug traffickers
knew it. They set up elaborate networks to get the coke into the
U.S. by the ton to satisfy the soaring demand.

Excerpt from “Forward Let’s Rock”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “Forward Let’s Rock”:

Ah, the brave foolishness of youth. Take an ambitious 25-
year-old kid from a little suburban town in New Jersey, his
music-obsessed kid brother, and a dad who believed in the whole
idea. Add loud rock and roll, wet T-shirt nights, nickel beer, and
here we are.

This book is a chronicle of those times, and a tribute to all
the rock bands and club goers on the tri-state club circuit and
around the country during the late 70s and 80s. From Ramsey to
Carteret, from Hoboken and Fort Lee, to the little town of
Bergenfield, it was a time of great clubs and even greater music.

While the scene in New York City was thriving, from Irving
Plaza to Max’s Kansas City and the Bottom Line, another scene
was developing out in the suburbs, where young rock fans actually
lived. Any night of the week, winter or summer, they were
filling clubs to see their favorite bands—loud, hot, sweaty, and

Excerpt from “CIRCUS-CIRCUS”

Rock and Roll Meltdown: The Circus Nightclub Story 1979-1983 by Rick Bandazian

Excerpt from “CIRCUS-CIRCUS”:

Sometime in December 1978, my brother got word of a
restaurant/bar named “Peanuts” in Bergenfield, New Jersey
that was for sale. With 5,000 square feet of space, a banquet-sized
kitchen, and a ton of parking, we quickly became interested. I
remember our first visit to the place. We sat at a booth and were
immediately welcomed with popcorn and peanuts, and a menu
that seemed to cater to children. Cartoons were projected onto a
wall as a kid’s party was in full swing. (Does it sound like another
place you know?) Let me give you a hint. Go ahead, throw your
peanut shells on the floor. Yes, it was Ground Round Grill and
Bar. Same idea, same concept, same peanuts!

The rest is all ROCK and ROLL!



Joe Cipriano – Florida-  “I bought the book on Kindle and couldn’t put it down. If you lived this era, it will bring back memories, if not, it will help you understand those of us who did.”

Gale Blane Sellers – New Jersey – “Loved it! Brings back memories; danced to the music. The kids today don’t realize how much fun their parents had! Keep on dancing!”

C.J. Mueller/ Flying Mueller Brothers – New Jersey – “I love the book! Read it cover to cover and learned more about the club scene in the 70’s and 80’s, and about the work ethic of a young guy and the power of a family that sticks together…….Thanks for the memories!

Michael Murphy – New Jersey –”Great book. Couldn’t put it down. It nailed that era! The book brought back great memories. It was a great time for rock clubs.”

Jill Squeglia Dutschmann – New Jersey – “I truly enjoyed reading your book. I couldn’t put it down!”

Lisa Warren Cilurzo – New York –”Great time and terrific book. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!”

Nancy Greene – New Jersey – “Great book! True to the time. The pictures are fun and the prices back then were so cheap. A beer $1.25. I remember those good times. Thanks for bringing it all back again, in a fun read!”

Gloria DeFalco Smith – North Carolina – “Just finished your book – Loved it!”

Diana Martin-Dee – New Jersey — “Loved the book, Rick!”

Peter Danese – New Jersey — “Great book capturing this ‘one of a time’ era in our youth and music scene.”

Keith McElwee – New Jersey — “You’re going to need another printing soon when the word gets out & beyond. Just the historical significance of how it documented an era. Much earned success!”

Rich Gulya — New Jersey — “My dear friends. I received a copy today of ‘Rock and Roll Meltdown’ and it’s phenomenal! This ‘history book’ must get into bookstores and record shops country wide.”

Pat Curtin –New York — “It was fabulous! Loved the book!”

Richie Coombs – New Jersey – “Awesome Book! Really brings back the great memories and captures a time in our lives we will never forget.”

Liz Dobler — Michigan — “Thanks for the trip back in time! I feel like I was just home! The book is fantastic! It really captures the time capsule…especially being in the ranks of ‘one of the family’ regulars!”

Mark Scala — New Jersey — “Just a quick note. The book is a page turner! I honestly can’t put it down. I know I got to review some of the manuscript while we worked on the jacket design and photo scans, but having it in book form, makes it all that much more “real.” Great job!”

Jay Canatta — New Jersey — “Finished your book, Rock and Roll Meltdown, The Circus Nightclub Story. Excellent! A must read for all that lived through the height of the Rock and Roll nightclub era! Bravo Rick for capturing it perfectly!”

Vicky Wildrose — New Jersey — “Five stars! This book kicks ass! Extremely thorough. I loved the interviews; they bring a multi-dimensional perspective to this incredible story. I just missed the drinking age. By the time I was ‘legal’ it was over. Thanks for writing the book, Rick…..So I know what I missed!”

Harry Sweeney — New Jersey — “Received a copy of the book on Tuesday and could not put it down! I would let anyone who went to rock clubs back in the 70′s and 80′s that this is a must read. And if you were too young or too old, this book will place you there at center stage, as the author promised it would!”

Bill Brislin –New Jersey — “Your book really captures the essence of that amazing time in New Jersey Rock and Roll history. Thanks for your contribution to some great memories.”

Denny Jarrett– New Jersey — “Remembering the Jersey Club Circuit – Mid 70s to Mid 80’s” on facebook.  So…imagine yourself sitting across from Rick Bandazian, as he’s telling you all these insane and touching stories about the days of “The Circus”…That’s what it feels like when you’re reading this book, it feels as if he’s right there speaking to you.  It’s a curious look back at all the craziness that went on in this club…and those great times…the 80s!  Rick’s book is so vivid, you can picture yourself being right there.  I loved it!  I truly recommend it to all who were a part of the Jersey Club circuit.  And even if you weren’t, it’s a great ride through the whole NJ music scene!”


Brad Levine –New Jersey— “This book was an excellent read. I suggest reading it. Gave me an understanding of what it was like to own a club but more relevant was that is captured the exact time for me that I was in the clubs and going to see all of the bands and clubs mentioned in the book. Great Read.


Laurie Tuttle—New Jersey—“Read half your book on kindle today….unbelievable! Could not put it down….brings back so many memories…I was 17 at the time and had a fake ID….then they called me into jury duty and I had to stop reading. “


Joe Nasso—New Jersey—Rock and roll meltdown is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. Took me back many many years To a time that I thought was the greatest times of my life, Could not trade that for anything in a lifetime had memories that have never been forgotten it definitely put me back stand there watching concerts and having a drink . It was a great vocal written by Rick and I could not put it down for you want the fastest books I’ve ever read . That era could never be replicated and the kids of today have no clue as how good things really where.


Lisa Serritello Anzardo—Florida—Well…finished this book last night. For the last 5 days while reading it, I was transported back to those crazy, fun, wonderful days described in this book. Rick, you hit on pretty much every experience I had during those rock club days. Interesting to me was the behind the scenes aspect of the bands and the club owners/management. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am already telling my friends to read it. Thank you for the time travel….