NEW HAVEN (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Mike Spoerndle, founder of Toad's Place — of one of the preeminent rock clubs in northeast — has died. According to the New Haven Register, Spoerndle was found dead in his home on May 6th of unknown causes, but was known to have battled drug and alcohol addiction for years. He was 59.
Spoerndle, who founded Toad's in 1975, regularly brought major touring artists to New Haven, including artists such as U2, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel Bruce Springsteen and a surprise show by the Rolling Stones in 1989.
"Mike…..he was a carefree, friendly guy, who developed a lifestyle that was basically a party type of a guy," current Toad's owner Phelps told the Register. "He enjoyed the night club life. He loved the business and the music. He loved rock ‘n roll." Phelps managed Toad's under Spoerndle in 1976 and eventually purchased the club.
Originally envisioned as a restaraunt specializing in French and Italian cuisine, Spoerndle eventually started bringing in blues and bluegrass bands, with Muddy Waters' being the first nationally known act to play at the venue.
The club would go on to host U2 three times, between 1980 and 1981, their first gig there as the opening act for the Barooga Band, playing in front of about 50 people. Bruce Springsteen did an impromptu show there in 1979, playing a 30 minute set after his scheduled performance at the New Haven Coliseum.
In 1989, the Stones played a 'secret' hour-long gig for 700 lucky fans at Toad's, their first live show in 8 years. The band had been rehearsing for their 'Steel Wheels' tour at a girl's school in nearby Washington, CT and had heard about the club. Bob Dylan launched his 1990 tour at Toad's, playing for five hours in his first (and longest to date) club performance in more than 25 years.
"With his partners, promoter Jim Koplik and the club's current owner, Brian Phelps, Mike built Toad's Place into one of the most important nightclubs in the nation. Not just for rock but every popular genre of music," Thom Duffy, former music writer for the New Haven Register and currently the special features editor at Billboard told the Register.
Spoerndle sold Toad's to Brian Phelps in 1995 and only appeared at the club a few times after that.
"Mike was very proud of what he accomplished. He wanted it to be clear that Toad's was not some fly-by-night operation," Toad's Place attorney Jim Segaloff told the Register. "He took Toad's and built it into the premier night spot in New Haven, and it's remained. That establishment is all about him. There were a lot of imitators but nothing ever came close to Toad's." – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers