After 42 years of business, the venerable live music venue known as Fitzgerald's will be shutting down at the end of the year.
The Heights mainstay will close things out with a New Year's Eve bash/farewell party on Monday, December 31. There will be other last-chance events leading up to this final blowout, including a "Last Chance to Dance!" show on December 9 and a "Going Out of Business" party on Friday, December 14.
According to longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald, it's pretty much time to go. "I’ve been here 42 years, and I’m tired," says Fitzgerald, who plans to retire after she locks up the doors. "You can’t stay up at four o’ clock in the morning when you’re 70." Fitzgerald already sold the property in August to a real-estate developer, while still running the club as a renter. However, Fitzgerald says keeping a live-music spot going is a grueling, tiresome game — and it's a game even her children doesn't want any part of. "My children are engineers," she says. "They aren't interested in selling liquor for a living."
While Fitzgerald's is seen as an historic, Houston music venue, the spot has ignited controversy in regards to booking certain acts. Years ago, this reporter wrote about an intense evening that took place when rapper KRS-One nearly started a riot, refusing to perform until he was properly paid by Fitzgerald's management. And early last year, there was an uproar when rap producer/promoter TrakkSounds declared a boycott on the club after he tweeted a racially charged email exchange between he and Fitzgerald. This prompted such artists as The Suffers lead vocalist Kam Franklin and comedian Hannibal Buress to sever all ties with Fitzgerald's. (Fitzgerald eventually did an interview where, even though she didn't exactly take her words back, she believes she could've expressed herself better.)
Heated incidents like those are just some of the many highlights and lowlights Fitzgerald says could make up "four books' worth" of moments she's dealt with while running this business. But, now, it's time to pack up things and leave quietly. "It would be nice if someone run the club and keep it running," she says. "But you can only do that for so many days and, then, you’re exhausted."
After four decades, Fitzgerald believes Fitzgerald's has served its purpose. As she says: "42 years of rock ‘n’ roll — don’t you think that’s enough?"