BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
The Buckhead Theatre has returned to familiar hands.
Live Nation has assumed operation of the 1,400-capacity venue, which over the years has been associated with Alex Cooley and Peter Conlon.
Cooley, who first converted the Roswell Road building into the Capri Ballroom concert venue in the late-‘70s, passed away in December 2015; Conlon is currently the president of Live Nation Atlanta.
“There’s a personal attachment to it for sure,” Conlon said Monday afternoon. “(Alex and I) did the first renovation when it was the Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse. It used to have tiers with tables on the floor. We added the balcony – and it’s still the original balcony.”
Those renovations in the ‘90s came when the pair turned the venue into the Coca-Cola Roxy, which boasted performances by artists including Johnny Cash, The Black Crowes and Gregg Allman. In 2008, the Roxy closed and was purchased by Atlanta business mogul Charles Loudermilk, who still owns the building. Under his direction, the Buckhead Theatre opened in 2010.
In April, Live Nation resurrected the Coca-Cola Roxy name for its 4,000-capacity venue at The Battery adjacent to the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park.
Conlon said the biggest change at the Buckhead Theatre – which will retain its name and still be available for private rentals – is an increase in shows, with plans for about 100 per year.
With a stash of venues under its direction, Live Nation has the ability to book acts on an escalating scale. In December, the company added to its Atlanta portfolio when it assumed operations at Wolf Creek Amphitheater in south Fulton County.
“We’ll look at a lot of up and coming acts, anything in the 1,400 and below range,” Conlon said. “It’s a good place for them to start and then graduate to the Tabernacle or the Roxy and then to Chastain. It’s all vertical integration.”
A few cosmetic tweaks will be made inside, such as the likely return of the grinning Elvis Presley head that hung over the bar at the original Roxy. The kitschy piece of memorabilia has been housed at the new Roxy since it opened.
Next to the Buckhead Theatre, the Hanover Buckhead Village apartment complex and parking garage is in its final round of construction, which will afford concertgoers more parking options.
In addition to Live Nation being the sole booker and operator of the venue, the personal connection seems to be the biggest pull for Conlon.
“I was glad to get it back,” he said.