19 things you didn’t know about Atlanta’s past

Little Richard and James Brown cut their teeth at the Royal Peacock

Royal Peacock Atlanta
Pianist Charles Brown at the Royal Peacock

Photograph courtesy of Georgia Music

The Royal Peacock was once the swankiest nightclub on Sweet Auburn. It opened in 1937 as the upscale Top Hat Club. But the place really took off when Carrie Cunningham, a former circus performer turned entrepreneur, bought it, rechristened it the Royal Peacock, and festooned the walls with paintings of colorful feathers. Nicknamed “Club Beautiful,” the venue welcomed James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Little Richard, Louis Armstrong, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. Although no longer the eminent venue it once was, the building still operates as a dance club and live music hall.