Jugheads Closes After 12 Years of Providing Punk Rock to the Valley

I've had The Specials' 1981 hit "Ghost Town" bouncing around in my brain pan lately, particularly the bit about "all the clubs have been closed down." Although the legendary ska song is about the horrors of Tory-era England in the 1980s, that particular lyrical bit seems especially apt after I learned that local punk dive Jugheads closed earlier this week.

Owner Tonya Copeland, who's been involved with the bar since the late '90s, pulled the plug on the bar Wednesday after 12 years of existence. She's been in the process of selling it (reportedly to "Captain" Mike Fields of Giligin's in Scottsdale) and originally had hoped to have a pair of final shows -- one metal, one punk -- this weekend before handing over the keys to the new owner. However, problems with the air conditioning and other unspecified issues cancelled those plans.

Copeland told me it was a tough decision to walk away from Jugheads, which has been a big part of her life for more than a decade, fighting back tears as she described how she ultimately had to do because of debt owed on the bar.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Jugheads, it was originally opened in 1998 by the late Sid Copeland and became a Mecca of sorts for Valley punks until Sid's untimely passing in 2006. While his widow agreed to keep the bar open and carry on her husband's legacy, she ultimately wound up selling the business to Jason Urias, Donnie Phillippi, and Chris Ceimo (the trio behind the Rose & Crown) in 2009. They eventually sold it back to her this past December, but she wound up owing significant amount of money (reportedly $30,000) to the owner of the property that the bar rested on.

Tonya says the property owner gave her eight months to repay the amount, or they'd kick her out and raze the building. Faced with this, she ultimately sold Jugheads to Fields. While the Giligin's owner declined to comment on the reported purchase and what his potential plans for the bar, Copeland believes that he would transform the place into a new establishment altogether.

"Of course I'm upset, but I'm just glad the building's not going to be knocked down," she says. "It won't be Jugheads, that's for sure, but at least the building and its memories will remain."

I've got plenty of memories of the place myself, ranging from performing on its smallish stage to getting into my first fight ever just last month. While Jugheads lost its luster in the punk scene not long after Sid passed, it still hosted music most nights of the week until a few months ago. I'm definitely going to miss it, and I'm certain many others will also.

Copeland is planning on moving to Southern California and opening a 24-hour pizzeria in the San Diego area, which is something that she and Sid had eventually planned to do.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.