Apollo Theatre Reveals Its Own Walk of Fame

The Apollo Theatre is honoring the performers who first got their start at the historic New York venue with the installation of its own Walk of Fame. Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and James Brown are a few of the artists receiving plaques.

The theatre was built in 1913 in the Harlem district of NYC. After getting its start as a burlesque theatre and then changing ownership a few times, the venue begin to host musical revues. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1934 marked the first year the venue began accepting black patrons but “the Apollo quickly became a vital stop for any black entertainer, and virtually every major African American musical act performed there at least once.”

In 1934 the venue also kicked off a weekly talent show called Amateur Night at the Apollo. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first talent show winners and the “First Lady of Song” is also one of the first performers receiving a bronze, rectangular plaque on the sidewalk outside the theatre.

The Walk of Fame’s first installation features a number of artists who have previously been inducted into the Theater’s Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. On Monday workers began putting plaques in place for artists including Fitzgerald, Robinson, Brown, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Little Richard.

Photo: AP Photo
The marquee at the Apollo Theater displays a tribute to the late entertainer and civil rights activist Lena Horne.

“For me to have a plaque honoring me in front of the Apollo theater is one of the proudest achievements in my life,” Robinson said. “I started out at the Apollo and it will always be a home to me.”

The R&B and soul singer-songwriter/record producer first played the Apollo back in 1959 along with The Miracles.

“I always say, if they tear down 125th Street and everything on it, please leave the Apollo standing.”

Patti LaBelle said she was also thrilled to be included in the Walk of Fame.

“My career began at the Apollo, so I’m humbled to be able to be a part of its rich and continued legacy,” LaBelle said.

Jackson and Aretha Franklin will receive plaques next month after being inducted into the theatre’s Hall of Fame. The King of Pop and Queen of Soul are being celebrated June 14 at the Apollo Theater’s annual spring benefit concert and awards ceremony. The event is being hosted by Jamie Foxx and will also honor Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony with the Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis Arts and Humanitarian Award.

The Apollo Theater, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, received landmark status in 1983.

Click here for the Apollo Theater’s official website.