Brownsville Station Ruled The Restroom

I’ve always felt an affinity for Detroit, even though I’ve only spent a little time there through the years, mostly during my childhood. I’ve written about those days in a couple of earlier pieces. One was called Riding The Rails To Detroit City, and the other Cuttin’ Wax In Post-War Motown, but my subject today is a rock group that rose to prominence in the area around forty years ago. Their biggest hit — “Smokin’ In the Boys Room” — inspired a lot of rebellious teens.

Brownsville Station would undergo some changes through the years, but the original members in 1969 included guitarists Cub Koda and Mike Lutz, along with drummer T.J. Cronley and bassist Tony Driggins. The group got its name — so the story goes — because it was exactly the length needed for the marquee at most rock and roll spots. In any case, there’s not much doubt that they put on a good show.

After their debut album sold well, the members of the group — who said they derived inspiration from earlier rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry — continued to perform in the Detroit area. They also hit the recording studio from time to time, finally striking gold with their third album, Yeah!, which contained their megahit, “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.”

For the rest of the decade things went a little downhill. Personnel changes kept the group off balance, and even though they did have lesser hits with songs like “Kings of the Party” and “(Lady) Put the Light on Me,” the guys eventually went their separate ways. In the years since, Cub Koda — who was always the liveliest part of the group’s stage appearances — has probably had the biggest solo success.

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