News Archive

Photos on this page courtesy of photographer Ron Lutz II.  More at the bottom of the page.

PTD at the Electric Banana, 1986.  This band spawned a future Hollywood producer and a criminal defense attorney.  And all along our parents thought we were spending our time with mindless degenerates!


This is an interesting look at the history of the Electric Banana as it was happening, from disco to punk to the all-ages shows to the restaurant business, the fun times and headaches that go with operating a nightclub. Now new and improved, easier to navigate articles as of 5/13/17.  Click on them to enlarge.  Thanks to Donny Zarra for the suggestion.

Rock Bottom (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/10/77).  The first article about punk rock in a Pittsburgh newespaper, warning the reader about "the worst trend in the history of popular music."  

Go-Go to Disco (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/7/77). Good-bye, Spotlite Lounge.  Hello, Electric Banana.

Punk Rock Popularity Grows With Grossness (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/18/77).  Punk would surely have "grossed itself out of business" had the media ignored it, laments the writer.  In other breaking news, local promoters will book anything that makes money.

Area Discos Hopping As Business Thrives (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/6/78).  Almost a year after reporting the switch to disco, the P-G checks up on how the Electric Banana is doing.  Continued here.

Oakland Disco Robbers Flee Under Heavy Fire (Pittsburgh Press, 11/3/78).  And you thought running a disco was easy.

Punk Rock Party Ends With Blues (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/30/79).  Meanwhile, punk rock struggles to find places to play in Pittsburgh.

Punk Goes the Trend (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/30/81).  The Electric Banana to the rescue, with a lesson in economics.  Continued here.

Not-So-Punk Rock (Pittsburgh Press, 7/26/81).  Punk at the Banana begins to arouse the media’s curiosity.  Quotes from Johnny Banana, Harry Wagner, W.T. Koltek, and a guy named “Reed” whose “last name doesn’t matter.”  Continued here.

Pittsburgh Punk (Pittsburgh Press, 8/12/84)It's tough for a punk band to make it in Pittsburgh.  Some bands have given up, while the Five have high hopes for Boston.  Quotes from Johnny Banana, Joe Bendik, and Harry Wagner.  Continued here.

Trouser Press filed this Scene Report in no. 85. 
Used with permission.
Never too young for night club fun (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/13/85).  All-ages shows get ‘em started early.  Continued here.

Electric Banana is a lab for 'new music' (Pittsburgh Press, 2/6/86).  The importance of the Banana in giving new bands a shot, even while the neighbors fear the kids in mohawks.  Continued here.

Hair Raisers (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 5/27/86).  It's not so easy being a punk in a blow-dried world.  Continued here.

Art, legal circles here stirred by pending obscenity case (Pittsburgh Press, 9/30/86). Johnny bans the Bad Martyrs from the Banana.  And you thought running a punk rock club was easy.

Irish band films music video here (Pittsburgh Press, 7/18/90).  "Thank God they ran out of film!"  Watch the video here.

Spinning a New Career (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/2/94).  From Jim's Records to the Warhol and the end of an era.  Continued here.

Musical Taste (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/11/94).  Bands love the home-cooked meals by Judy.  Recipes included. Continued here.

Peeling Back the Banana (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/23/95).  The Electric Banana celebrates 25 years of go-go, disco, & punk.  Quotes from Johnny Banana, Karl Mullen, and Reid Paley.  Jump to page 35 to continue.  (Not available in Post-Gazette archives.  Coincidentally, this edition also reports the sale of the Decade.)

Munch Goes to the Electric Banana (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/16/98).  “Meatballs that’ll blow your mind!”  A food critic who looks suspiciously like the Unknown Comic.

The Banana rocks, but not around the clock (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/3/99). Johnny maintains his sense of humor on a slow night. Continued here.

Hitsburgh:  The Birth of Punk (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/13/01).  The local punk scene in hindsight.  More quotes from Johnny, Mullen, and Paley.  Continued here and here.  Ten days later comes a letter to the editor from John Angola with an interesting story about the first-ever punk show in Pittsburgh.

The Next Page:  Tales From the Electric Banana – Pittsburgh’s punk laboratory (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/14/10).  Story by Doug Hughey, who says he's working on a book about the Banana, although it's been a few years now.....

Historical Oakland:  local musicians once ruled venues (The Pitt News, 3/27/12).  All about when the Decade, the Electric Banana, and Graffiti all thrived, Fettucinne Alfredo got ejected from the Decade's kitchen, and Christmas cards from Henry Rollins.

Historical Oakland:  Live music scene fades with advent of the Internet (The Pitt News, 4/9/12).  The Electric Banana closes as the scene dies.  It's downright confounding that so many people waste so much time on the internet.  Wait a minute.....never mind.

A look back at Pittsburgh punk with the Shakes (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on line edition only, 7/20/16).  An interview with Tracy Wuischpard of the Shakes, worthwhile for her insight into the formative years of the city's punk scene.  There's a limit to what you can view on the P-G site without a subscription.

List last updated 8/26/17
Links last checked 11/17/17



Half Life at the Banana in 1986.  Pittsburgh's kings of hardcore, with over 90 gigs there by our count.
Johnny Banana takes a break outside, 1986.