The Metro St. Louis Live Music

Historical Society

 

 

Burnham's (Opera House)

314 West Port Plaza

Owner: Tom Burnham

 

Dichotomy and Bushwhackers were both house bands at different times.

Still open as Trainwreck Saloon

 

 

The Bushwhackers

 

 


 

 

Here's some history from bartender Rob Peters:

 

I worked there as a bartender from the day after I turned 21in January of 1980 until the summer of 1985.

I saw a lot of things and have a lot of memories from there. Tom Burnham was the owner until about 1984 when he

sold it to someone else and Tom opened a place in Union Station named Key West Cafe.


 

The Opera House was sort of saloon and music club with house bands that played every night except Monday night

and then later on not on Tuesday nights.


 

The place was out of control on the weekends. We got so crowded that you could not even get in to the place. Waiting

lines outside the saloon style swinging doors, out onto the plaza brick walkway. One St. Patrick's Day, we were so busy

from the time we opened, until the the time we closed at 1:30, we went thru 55 half barrels of beer in the one day. I worked

from 5:30 in the morning, until 2:00 the next morning. You would not believe what went on there that day....a LOT of

drinking, fights and...oh yea, a little sex on the bar. Right in front of everyone. The young lady and her 'date' did get a

little plaque on the bar for that one.


 

The house bands that played there were Mike Fee and the Bushwackers. Then when they left, Bill Alt, from the original house

band Dichotomy came back for a while. That was out of control, too. Bill Alt was a wild man and used to get businessmen up on

stage  and cut off their ties, which usually went over real well. That was probably the wildest of times, when Bill Alt's band was

there.


 

Then, when Alt's band left, the house band became Brian Clarke and the St. Louis Browns.


 

Some of the guys that played in the house bands were Joey Marshall, Mike Fee, Jay Hayes, Bill Alt, Jim Huckleberry, and Pat

Malloy, all of which are on this site and in different bands throughout the years. I remember seeing Michael McDonald come in

and sing with the band once in a while, as he was old friends with Pat Malloy. Michael was  a great guy, very nice. His sister

(Mary I believe) came in once or twice and sang with him, too.


 

There were famous people in there all of the time. I met Bobby Thomson, who hit 'the shot heard around the world'. A famous

ball player for the NY Giants MLB team. I met Rocky Blier of the Pittsburg Steelers, and more Playboy Bunnies and

Centerfolds than I can remember. One of them of course, was 1976 Playboy Playmate of the year, Pattie McGuire. She could

not have been any nicer of a person. She would come in once in a while. One day, I came in to work and there are six Playboy

Playmates sitting at the bar. They had been doing a national ad campaign at Burnham's other bar, T. Billie Moffett's (where he

shot Scott Humphries) for Michelob Light. What a job!!!


 

Oh yes...the infamous shooting.


 

Yes, Tom Burnham did shoot and kill Scott Humphries one night. He actually shot him two times, and did kill him, behind T.

Billie Moffett's. It was found to be 'self defense.'  That is all that I will say about that other than Tom Burnham never

'went away' as some remember. He was found 'not guilty'. He had hired as his Defense Attorney, the famous or should I say,

infamous, Charles Shaw. Tom Burnham was never convicted. There is a lot more to this story, but, I will only say he was found

'not guilty' and leave it at that. Although, I do know the entire storystraight from Tom Burnham's mouth... just know that he shot

 ScottHumphries two times, once in the side and once in the back. Tom thought he was being attacked and acted in self defense.

 Story closed. Never convicted, never 'went away.'


 

That was one wild and fun place. I worked with a lot of

great people, like Ric Dolgin, Kevin Nash, Dave Guilvason,Cliff Seratti, Rick Barnes, Bob Spencer, Paul Tornetto, Bruce

Hudgens and so many pretty girls that I cannot name all of them. I enjoyed working there like no other job I have ever had.


 

Rob Peters

Bartender/Burnham's St. Louis Opera House

1980-1985

 

The Bushwhackers

 

 

If you have any photos, facts or memories of this club, please email me at: greg@dejawho.com

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