South Jersey Memories- Dick Lee’s/ The Pennant East

Dick Lee’s (Pennant East)
Route 130
Bellmawr, NJ

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The building of The Pennant/Dick Lee’s as she stands today.

Did you know that this vacant building once held national and local acts? It was once called Dick Lee’s prior to the Pennant East. The name Dick Lee was named for the man himself… Actually, his real name was Richard Lee Beurer.

Dick Lee appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s national talent show, “Talent Scouts” in 1951. Lee was introduced to the show by his girlfriend who later became his wife. After Lee’s memorable appearance, he was offered a record contract.

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Photo of Dick Lee. Courtesy of http://www.secondhandsongs.com

His voice captivated audiences for years. Dick’s first hit was called, “All I Want is a Chance” (Click this link if you would like to hear it. He’s got quite a vocal range….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66hFPYNufXQ&sns=em). It was released in the UK and reached the top of the charts. He then went on to produce a billboard hit record called, ” Oh Mein Papa.”

He was nicknamed “America’s Golden Boy.”

Dick was frustrated about the music business so he started his own night club in 1956. It was a place where many local acts got their renowned start…such as Frank Stallone and Roy Buchanan. Dick was known to be a very kind and upstanding man, helping others to try to catch a break in life or in the music industry. The Dick Lee nightclub was very successful. Lee sold the business in 1992 and is now retired in California.
He operated this South Jersey landmark for 36 years.

After Lee sold the business, the name was changeD to The Pennant East. It quickly rose and fell from 1992-2011.

This building has over 57 years of musical history. Former owners of the Pennant had to close its doors due to a lawsuit in exceeding their maximum occupancy in the club. Plus, there was history of many fights and altercations between patrons of the establishment. One was pretty brutal at the end. A stabbing occurred outside one night AFTER the club was closed for the evening. Youth these days, huh?
This event was the last straw for the owners.

The Pennant did close their doors with a bang! On its last opening day, former bands who were opening acts (for example… Don’t Call Me Francis) played their last performance here… They called it “Pennantpalozza” and it will go down in SJ history.

Anyone from Camden County has probably been a patron at this place during its decades of operation. Who doesn’t recall some “White Trash Wednesdays” ? Now looking back it doesn’t seem so classy (the name), but hey… what do you really know at that age? I’ll tell ya what.. When you’re young and strapped for cash (as many young adults are) The Pennant was THE PLACE to be on Wednesday nights to hear local acts, dance and have great times with friends.

Now this building sits vacant. Perhaps she’ll be resurrected one day… Or she’ll just wither away.. be knocked down like most old buildings who sit vacant and a Wawa or gas station put in its place. Nonetheless, it brings back a lot of treasured memories for a lot of folks in South Jersey.

Until our next adventure, my friends!

-The Yummygal

57 thoughts on “South Jersey Memories- Dick Lee’s/ The Pennant East

  1. Thank you for sharing this, had no idea who Dick Lee was, but went to the Pennant back in 1993. It is indeed a landmark and maybe it can be revived. Always look for it on Route 130, always there. Interesting history.

      • Thank u yummygal! That was nice of u to post this! That was my dad’s…dick lee..nite club! I remember soooo many nights there when i was a kid…i met bon jovi there and Cinderella!! He is still living here with me and my family in santa Clarita ca!! Please message me and tell me ur stories!!!

    • I just saw this post! That is my dad Dick Lee! He is living well with me in California! He is 86 now and still going strong! He still memorizes about the old days there with all the bands he loved. He cant believe it still is standing as a free building!! The memories there are over whelming !! He has pictures all over his house of the club it used to be! When i was a little girl.. i went to club with him and got in trouble for playing with the instruments! I have sooo many memories of all the bands that played there as a child and they were just starting out!

  2. The second part was dead on. That place had ONE known exit to the public. The front doors. One side which was ALWAY locked. That place was easily exceeding occupancy every night it was open. If a fire ever broke out there it would make The Station Nightclub fire seem pale in comparison. The only other exit was where the bands came and went and NO ONE could get back there except bands and staff. It’s amazing no one ever died there.

    • Styckx, I read in some report the maximum was 500 occupants. I could see on occasion it exceeding that. I’m not blaming the owners. I don’t think it was their fault or were fully aware and the stabbing occurred after hours.. When it was closed. I think they just got tired of dealing with it. The stabbing was the last straw pretty much.

      • Easily exceed 500. I remember many nights you couldn’t even park in the parking lot and had to park on back streets and walk to the club. That place was also the most ridiculously lax on carding people. I’m 37 now and when I went there in the mid 90s the amount of VERY questionable young women drinking was mind boggling. One person will always stand out though.. FREEEDOM ROCK!!.. P.S. Even 500 people seems insane for that place. Whoever set that limit must have had a nice stack of $100s put in their pocket.

        • Freedom Rock was the man. I’ll always miss that dude.

          The 2nd half is spot on. I was there from 97 until the last day. I was (unfortunately and only incidentally) part a couple of the altercations there. The place was a powder keg with all the different personalities stuffed together like drunk sardines. Still, it was always a good time, even on the worst of nights(except the night of the stabbing).

  3. I remember going in the late 70’s early 80’s with my friends every Friday and Saturday night. We especially liked the band Wintergreen.

  4. Believe it or not, I met the love of my life (now my wife) at the pennant in late 2008. sad to see it close but we spent many a “white trash Wednesdays” and Saturday nights at this place. What are the odds that my first time ever going to this joint, I met my wife!? Crazy looking back at it now!

    • Thanks for sharing! I know a few folks that met there and married as well. I’ve also enjoyed the Pennant in my younger years. It was kind of dirty/grimy, but that was part of the appeal and fun.

  5. Too much talk about the Pennant. It was the original Dick Lees that rocked the sixties and seventies. Supra Heat, Full House, Cookie Jar and the Crumbs, Ricky and the Rockets! These are the bands that this club was all about. South Philly and the northeast all came to south jersey to dance at Dick Lees. And he was always there. Friday nights and Sunday nights were the best. Early seventies we all danced to these bands performing Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, the Beatles and the list goes on and on. It was just awesome! It was the Philly kids that rocked this club. What terrific times!

    • Joyce, I heard the Supremes once played at Dick Lee’s. Wish I was born to see these big acts. I also heard Dick Lee took care of/and respected his employees and was truly an upstanding guy. He’s in California now. I’d love to pick his brain.

      • I am Dick Lee’s daughter Jennifer! He is alive and kicking still at 86 years! He is California…down the street from me! Doing well.. He has a shrine in his house of all the pics of him and everyone! His memory is still sharp !!!

    • That was my dad’s club! It rocked back then! I have sooooo many memories of Bon Jovi and Cinderella!! And of course.. Don’t call me Francis! !!

  6. The strangest part about that place is how little you had to drink there before you were hammered.. I have no idea where they got their Miller Lite, or what kind of fungus was growing in their lines but it always seemed like it took very little to get into “oh crap, I’m hammered” territory at that place..

    • It was a great place to go when you just wanted to have a good time, listen to decent cover bands and have fun. It brings back very fond memories for a lot of folks.. whether it be Dick Lee’s or The Pennant East. I wanted to share its history. I’m not a writer. Just a simple blogger trying to keep a beloved SJ institution alive.

      • Yummy. This article is the only reason I even know of your blog here.. I was born and raised in Woodbury and like you have traveled and explored Jersey trying to find the good in it all my life from a history stand point. (37).. From Cape May Point, to Fort Mott, to exploring, mapping, and walking the abandoned stretches of the old Seashore lines.. Great site you have here.. History is a wonderful thing and catching up with your site you do a great job of documenting it.

  7. I used to live right by that place and had the greatest times there in the late 90’s would be there every Wednesday and weekends when secret service and Mr greengenes would play. Met some great people from philadelphia there!!! Got to know the owner and certain bartenders there and they were a great group of guys!! Sorry to hear it closed down!!!!!

  8. Went there in the late 80s when it was Dick Lee’s. Always good times and good bands. When it was Dick Lee’s there wasnt that many fights. Everybody knew each other. The trouble came when the Pennant took over. Different bands and a lot younger crowd. I know a lot of Dick Lee’s regulars that stopped going there when the Pennant took over because the younger crowd was too rowdy and always looking for fights. A real shame. Long live Dick Lee’s!! Keep rocking!!

  9. When you speak of the stabbing altercation you have it wrong. It was between adults and one was in their mid 30’s ( the attacker ). So please research more before passing judgement.

    • Not passing judgment, but the last I heard 18 is the legal adult age and 21 to drink.. Which are adults at that age. And if someone is in their mid-30’s attacking someone, I think they need to reevaluate their priorities. It isn’t the owner’s fault. It was after hours.. However, there is no reason to stab anyone unless it is in self defense and your life is in jeopardy. The guy was stabbed 18-19 times and almost lost his life.

      • i know that he was, he is one of my friends for many years.. the person who did it didnt get fully what he deserves in my eyes tbh. and you are 100% correct it was not any of the owners faults at all. it’s a pretty bad situation they were put in, i do feel horrible for the effected parties.

  10. I worked at Dick Lee’s a lot with the band MIDNIGHT CIRCUS. Played opposite just about all the other bands from that time who were doing the cilubs. Cookie Jar and the Crumbs, Joey Powers Flowers and many more. I had a headache one night and somebody (I know who) gave me an aspirin. It was my first acid trip. After the gig we went down to Sommers Point to the Dunes until the windows swung open. Great days, Great times. I wish I could remember more about them.

    • Hi. Im Dick Lee’s daughter jennifer!! If u wanna know the real history…just ask! My dad is here down the street from me !

      • Hi Jennifer – my name is maryanne Keller (Lavaique) i used to be the President of your dad’s fan club many years ago. please tell him i said hi and think of him often. what a wonderful man he is. give him a hug from me.

        • Hi. I am Dick Lee’s daughter. He lives in Santa Clarita down the sreet from me. He is still living at 88 years old. He lives with my brother Russ. He still talks to people from the club. He still is stubborn as hell. But looks good and always talks about the club!

      • It would be nice to restore Dee Lees to its former glory in honor of your dad. My friends and I had seen many good cover bands play there. Bands like Full House,Witness,Don’t Call Me Frances to name a few. Some of which I still see today. I had mostly good times there. I wish you and your dad the best.

      • I knew your dad and your brothers. I grew up in the Earlton section of cherry hill New Jersey in the 60’s and I lived on Abington road and I think your dad loved around the corner from us… I forget the name of the street he loved on… was at your house many many times ,, I was close to Ricky ..
        Then I played in dick lees for many years,,, he treated us very well all the time
        Wow, I wish I could go back in time

  11. I was there every Wednesday and Friday and satderday. This is the place that I met my wife of 19 years.

  12. I went to Deck Lee’s in 67, with a girlfriend of mine at the time whose father managed the place and in 68 became my father in law, lot of good times in that place I went all the time till the closed, I remember Pappy, Ralph, Charlie and many more great people.

    • I am Dick Lee’s daughter Jennifer! He is alive and kicking still at 86 years! He is California…down the street from me! Doing well.. He has a shrine in his house of all the pics of him and everyone! His memory is still sharp !!!

    • That was my dad’s club! It rocked back then! I have sooooo many memories of Bon Jovi and Cinderella!! And of course.. Don’t call me Francis! !!

  13. I was the lead vocalist for a number of South Jersey/Philly Bands and had performed there once when it was still Dick Lee’s back in 1991 and thereafter between 300 to 400 more times after it became the Pennant East. When I saw the picture you posted of the already rusting marquee saying “closed” it felt as if I’d just spotted the face of a dear friend in an obituary page. I can’t begin to tell you how many amazing memories I have, and will surely carry throughout my life, of the wild and crazy nights that took place just beyond those glass double doors with the imbedded “Dick Lee’s” matt behind them. From ringing in multiple New Years, performing four or five Halloween Parties, decades of White Trash Wednesdays and playing host to countless bachelorette parties, the Pennant became a home for my band(s) and the thousands of people we’d partied with through all the years and it will sorely be missed. Thank you for your article.
    Sincerely,
    John Pennington,
    Lead vocalist: Monkey Bus, Last Man Standing, Monster Island, Revolution Maker, Insight

  14. Went there in the late 80’s. Saw many good bands such as Ivory Tower and others and always had a good time. The people then seemed to just be interested in hanging out and hearing good music.

  15. In the early 80’s videotaped a band there named “Stryker” also Kansas was there had a great time that night, Richard was a personal friend of mine also!

  16. I am a South Philly guy and heard about Dick Lee’s in the late 60s/early 70s. In 1975 my barber lived near the club and took me there. Just as we walked in, a fight broke out. It was like a movie. A few tables were end to end, loaded with bottles, glasses, etc. one combatant, slid another across the tables clearing everything off. The fight ended quickly and we stayed for about half hour, had a couple of beers and listened to the band. Philly really didn’t have a club scene (actually it never has) like Jersy. Dick Lee’s was one of many Jersey clubs that serviced the Delaware Valley.

  17. Loved that place. My brother played there numerous times back in the last 60’s, early 70’s, they were called The Young Men. I went there a few times, in the 80’s and 90’s, and Don’t Call me Francis was always the best, still is. I hope they revitalize it someday, not too many clubs around anymore.

    • Do you mean THE YOUNG IDEAS? I was in MIDNIGHT CIRCUS and we worked opposite them many times. I’m sorry but I don’t remember a band call the THE YOUNG MEN.

      • There were called The Young Men, consisting of three frontmen who would sing and dance, drummer, keys, guitar. They played Motown, Jerry Butler, The Dreamlovers “You gave me somebody to love” being one of my favorites. They worked a lot and were really good back in the day…..

  18. It was the wonder Bar before Dick Lee’s. A lot smaller building. Once Dick bought it a band called Bob Moore and the Temptatios from Bayonne NJ started playing there. They had people in lines all the way back to the circle waiting to get in.
    Of the three brothers in the band (Bob – John – Butch) only Bob is still with us and still resides in Bellmawr,NJ
    Mac

  19. The Pennant was incredible. Freedom Rock, the bud light bottle spinning in the always flushing urinal, the beautiful odor of years old spilled beer combined with an equally old cigarette smell, ice cold bottles, drunken acid washed-jean-wearing Bellmawr ladies, and crushed glass on the bathroom floors were always a guarantee regardless of the quality of the band or the sound. God how I miss those days!

  20. My friends and I started going there mid 80’s into early 90’s during the transition between Dick Lee’s to Pennant. From nightclub to Sports Bar you might say. Fortunately, during that time we didn’t see a lot of fights on the weekends, except in the parking lot area once or twice. We followed cover/original bands like Radio City, Network, Electric City, LeCompte, Skeleton Crew, the Barrow Gang, Don’t Call me Francis, Crystal Roxx, plus many others from the Tri state area. We had the best times, made lots of Philly friends and share great memories of (some) drunken nights, Birthdays, New Year and Halloween celebrations. The Bar staff was great, especially Tommy, bouncers took care of business, and the entertainment was top notch from the area. Always looked forward to the weekends when we’d all meet there and KNEW it’d be a BLAST! Tons of great memories for me but sad to see it’s closed now ….sad that new generations of kids and adults won’t have a place like this to see live bands.

  21. Back in the late 1960s Dick had a great idea for the younger teen crowd, he opened on Sunday afternoons for us to get to see some of the groups like The Duprees, Cookie Jar, and I think we saw Billy Harner too. Great times and only soda was served.

  22. My band, Frankie Gracie and the Soul Brothers played @ Dick Lee’s in 1967-68. We were on the bill with Jay & the Techniques. Jerry Blavat introduced us that night night. I played bass, Bob Graci on lead guitar, Joey Sammartino on rhythm guitar, and Andy on drums. It was a great club to work, and we had a big following. Dick Lee and his staff were wonderful to work for.

  23. What about al joes, another jersey hang out., dicks was the best. Denis south phllly. How about the hurricane in wildwood, let’s get lost on a country road, the kit kats.

  24. Many years ago I was the President of the Dick Lee fan club in Pa. He is a lovely man and he was always very sweet and kind to his fans. Those days will alway be very precious memories to me. His mom and dad were lovely people and his brother Ralph has always been a great guy.
    sigh – memories.

  25. It is so funny to listen to how everyone has these great memories of Dick Lee’s Nite Club and of Dick Lee himself. I had the pleasure of hanging there (when it was closed) from the time I was 12 yrs old until I started working there in August of 1978. It was the best time of my life, Great bands like Squeeze, Ricky and the Rockets, Money, Energized,Wintergreen, Syre, Ransom, Radio City Band, Big Eyes. Robert Hazard and the Heroes, Beru Review, Slayer, Witness, then the Dead End Kids, World War III, Saints in Hell, Krank, and the list goes on and on. I had the great pleasure of working with Pappy and Ralph on Mondays when I was a kid. Then with Dick and Ralph as I became an adult. Dick and Patty were the nicest people to be around and to work for. We always had a great time at the club every New Years Eve as Patty would prepare the Buffet for the all you could eat and drink party. I got to be good friends with the boys Ricky, Michael, Russell and I would attend Beau’s wrestling matches with Dick all the time. Micheal and I had a lot of good times in Wildwood in the early 80’s. Russell and I bartended there together side by side at the Club for years. Ricky and I worked together with Michael during the afternoon GO-GO days, and then the beautiful Jennifer she was the only girl and very intelligent and beautiful, I was glad to see her respond to this Blog. Hello Jennifer !!!!! Well i have spoke to Dick many times since he moved to California and have gone down the shore to see Ralph and Charlotte with my brother Johnny, he worked at the club before I did. So its nice hearing all the memories even if some of them have no truth to them at all. For those of us who were there and lived it 6 days a week and 5 night a week, we know the truth and our memories we will have and cherish forever. I would love to shout out to Dick and Ralph Lee and the boys and to you also Jennifer, I hope all is well with all of you!!! And as Dick would always call me Billy Boy, that is how I will sign off!

    Dick Lee’s Nite Club Rocked!!!!!!
    Billy Boy
    Bill Strom

  26. I grew up in bellmawr then bought a house 2 blocks from the pennant. I met my wife there Christmas night 2008. My cousin was in the Rockets and was playing there that night. 4 kids later and still wish to take my bride back to our meeting place. Long live Dick Lee’s and the pennant.

  27. Can anyone remember the name of the band that played a lot of Billy Joel covers there around 89-91?
    Lead singer was a shorter guy with dark hair. I believe they would also cover a crazy yodeling vocal song called Hokus Pokus by Focus.

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