That iconic disco ball from the 70’s groovy dance show, Soul Train spins and sparkles over every roast at Stringbean Coffee roaster in St. Louis, Missouri. There were three disco balls on the set from October 2, 1971 to May 13, 1978, two smaller and one larger. We proudly have one of the 12-18” smaller globes. Literally, these were often outdated globes that had mirrored tiles glued on them.
We frequently get the same two questions – how did you get it and why do you have it. The latter part is short and sweet so we’ll start there. Why do we roast coffee under a disco ball? The answer is why wouldn’t we!? Why isn’t everybody roasting coffee under a disco ball? Pete left a seventeen year corporate banking treasury management position and following in true Ben & Jerry’s anti-corporate idealism, the exact opposite of the often stodgy banking environment. The roastery is surrounded by music memorabilia and fun. With a wardrobe of concert t’s and ball caps roasting coffee under a disco ball only seems fitting. And, if it might as well be the coolest, most iconic disco ball ever … the same one that graced our tv sets every Saturday morning with great music and the Soul Train Dancers.
Disco itself was in the 1970’s a musical sensation that has its beginnings as an underground movement powered young DJs throwing wild dance parties in New York City. These hypnotic, funky-groovy songs helped define an era synonymous with Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees, bell bottom pants and silky geo designed shirts with big collars.
Now for how’d we come to own the Soul Train Disco Ball. While searching disco balls Pete came across a blog post about William Byrne Jr. (Bill Byrne) that his son had posted about his Baritone Saxophonist father. Byrne was a studio musician and for a stint was part of the Gong Show Band (remember Chuck Berris?). The set included Johnny Carson and Soul Train. After the taping of the final episode of the Chuck Berris Ra Ra Show and prior to a cast party at Juan’s Mexican Restaurant (across the street from NBC Studios) the younger Byrne (then 17) was hanging out backstage and handed the two smaller infamous disco balls. Call it luck or fate – whatever it is, we love our historic disco ball and in its honor have a roast Disco Inferno.
Every Monday while roasting coffee we often look up at that sparkly globe and imagine the dancers and musicians that performed under that very disco ball. It was everybody that was anybody. Some of the highlights were:
Gladys Knight & the Pips (10/2/71)
Bill Withers and Al Green (10/30/71
Lou Rawls (11/6/71)
B.B. King (1/1/72)
Curtis Mayfield (1/22/72)
Jackson 5 (10/7/72)
Billy Preston (10/28/72)
Stevie Wonder (1/13/73)
Aretha Franklin (4/14/73)
Chuck Berry (7/7/73)
a few notables include Tower of Power, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Graham Central Station, Elton John, David Bowie and Wilson Pickett to name a few from an extensive list. For full listing visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Soul_Train_episodes
So, next time you drink your coffee dust off a groovy album from the 70’s and give it a spin. Dance and sip your morning into a special place.
We love rock ’n roll, soul, funk and are a disco friendly coffee roaster.
As Don Cornelius would say … Love, Peace and Soul Train.