Jules Belkin: The legend who made Cleveland Rock

Jules Belkin ’53 (Michigan) was a Cleveland native whose company put the city on the map as a hotbed of Rock and Roll. Belkin Productions booked, promoted and managed rock artists. Belkin was the name in music for three decades, becoming synonymous with the best bands and the best venues.

The Dawn of Belkin Productions

During college, Jules worked in the family clothing store, “Belkin’s Men’s Shop” with his brother Mike. His brother started booking big bands in clubs in the 1960s, and together the brothers co-founded Belkin Productions as Rock and Roll began to enter the Cleveland music scene. 

Jules remembered, “When we started the business, everything out there was being improvised. Everything was by the seat of your pants.” Jules and Mike learned the industry in the era before Ticket Master, selling tickets locally and slowly finding some success.

Their first event in 1966 netted them a profit of $59. Jules put it in perspective saying, “remember men’s socks were about 39 cents at the time. You’d have to sell a lot of men’s socks to make $59, so it looked pretty good to us.”

Soon, they began to lure bigger name rock and roll artists to town.

Making Cleveland a Rock and Roll Town

By the early 1970s, the Belkins truly became a force in the music industry by staging “The World Series of Rock” summer concerts at Cleveland Stadium. 

From 1974 through 1980, Hall of Fame acts like The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, and Aerosmith brought crowds of more than 80,000 to the Stadium for day-long, multi-act summer shows. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Jules was a major proponent of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was on the board that raised money and negotiated the complex details of a deal with many stakeholders. He said, “I like to feel that was my baby “

Belkin’s Legacy

Belkin took chances on little known musicians who later became International legends due to his support for them.

In 2021, Belkin Productions Boulevard was named in honor of Jules and Mike Belkin. Cleveland mayor Jackson called them, “the first family of Cleveland Rock and Roll.”

Asked if he thought he was “cutting edge” in an interview, Jules was always humble about his success. He said, “I think we found out we were cutting edge after we left the business.”

Read more in, “Rock This Town”

If you’d like to know more about Jules and the Cleveland rock and roll culture that he helped to build, his wife Fran wrote a book called, “Rock this Town.”

Article written by Shawn Mahoney (Temple University, ’92)