The Haunted Arlington Music Hall

Posted by junketseo in Dallas Ghost Tours
The Haunted Arlington Music Hall - Photo

The faint rumble of music spills out through the main doors beneath the uniquely retro marquee. In the thick of night, brilliant white lighting illuminates the act of the evening as shimmering teal lettering welcomes all to a staple of Arlington, Texas. The Arlington Music Hall has belonged to the community for over a quarter of a century, presenting entertainers of all ilk. It wasn’t always just for live entertainment, though; not everything within the venue was strictly of the living.


Though rowdy crowds gather and speakers blast out music of all kinds, the music hall remains the final stop for a peaceful soul. Can they be blamed? A free show almost nightly and witnessing the continuous evolution of entertainment sounds like a compelling way to spend an eternity. 


The Arlington Music Hall has seen its share of the region’s history, adding a new layer to the antique facade every year. Whether attending a concert or visiting the spirits that call the auditorium home, the Arlington Music Hall is an icon of its namesake city, brimming with life (and death).


Who haunts Arlington Music Hall?


Some claim multiple ghosts haunt Arlington Music Hall, but there’s one that virtually everyone can agree remains tied to the venue. Fred has been a part of the music hall for as long as anyone can remember, his tie to the building unknown to all. Maybe you can learn more about the ghosts of Texas on a Dallas ghost tour.


Bringing Entertainment to Arlington


Long before Anglo-Saxon settlers journeyed across the plains of Texas, Wichita natives called the empty lands home. That all changed in 1838 when Captains Robert Sloan and Nathaniel T. Journey rounded up 90 frontiersmen and followed a trail that led them to modern-day Euless and Arlington. There, they cleared out the existing Native American village and paved the way for a more prominent presence of white settlers. That laid the foundation for Arlington, TX, which drew many with its fresh, natural springs and promise of flourishing crops. 


The more Arlington was built up, the more its people needed entertainment. After all, the day-to-day couldn’t all be about tending to crops and operating small mercantile shops. In 1950, well after the city had been developed and its streets bustled with modern society, it welcomed one of its first movie houses. The Arlington’s marquee glowed over North Center Street, welcoming everyone who needed a night of entertainment. 


Unlike its current incarnation, though, the venue’s original purpose was as a movie theater. The first film to grace its screen was The Story of Seabiscuit, followed by a live performance by The Flying Ranch Hands. For years, the hall hosted movie nights and live musical acts, but it came into its own the most when purchased by singer and musician Johnnie High in 1994. 


Revitalizing the Arlington


With Johnnie High at the helm, Arlington’s music scene blossomed. Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue offered weekly time slots for local musicians, eventually welcoming more notable names like LeAnn Rimes, Blake Shelton, Wanda Jackson, and Box Car Willie onto the stage. The review ran for 31 years before Johnnie High closed the curtains for good and was ready to relinquish ownership of the venue.


In 2009, the energetic air of the music revue still lingered over the 2,200-square-foot stage. As a country music fan, new owner Burk Collins sought to harness that energy and use the space as the city’s go-to for live performances, but first, it would need to be revitalized. Collins spent over $6 million to give the Arlington Music Hall a new sheen and add Babe’s Chicken Dinner House to the same building.


When the hall reopened, Collins launched his own music revue — the Burk Collins Country Music Revue. Like Johnnie High’s, it showcased local talent while welcoming known artists like Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. All the while, names kept coming in and out of the venue, but one constantly remained behind; its origins were never really understood but its presence entirely welcomed.


Fred, the Arlington’s Resident Spirit


In 2015, Burk Collins sold the music hall to local owners, who committed to restoring the space in 2015 and 2018 to improve the audience experience. Plenty had changed within the music hall, with relics of its past put on display as a reminder of its 20th-century beginnings, but there was already a fixture within the venue that tied it to its original beginnings.


Who Fred is remains unknown, though one encounter with Howard Ball, manager of Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, suggests he’s been a long-time resident of the area. In a 2014 interview, Ball recounts his run-in with Fred, who, at the time, was already known by Burk Collins’ wife and then-owner of the music venue, Jean. As Ball recalls, Fred appeared to be a kind gentleman in a suit and simply wanted to revisit the apartment he used to live in. Ball complied but was distracted by another customer. When he turned back to address Fred, the stately man was gone. 


According to Jean, that was Fred, a mischievous spirit who occasionally involves himself in the theater’s mechanics, turning lights on as he sees fit. Though Jean only speaks of Fred, a local paranormal group believes there’s a female spirit also lingering within the auditorium. Former creative curator Claud Smith III mentioned in a 2016 interview that there may actually be three spirits, though Fred always remained top billing.


The Mystery of Arlington’s Haunted Music Venue


Over the years, the Arlington Music Hall has played host to Jehovas, serving briefly as a Kingdom Hall, and even welcomed the local Resurrection Global Methodist Church to use its expansive space for worship. It has welcomed notable names and local acts just looking for a break. Even today, it carries on its age-old tradition of delivering entertaining delights like tribute bands, local favorites, and much more.


Still, despite all the living bodies that have graced the stage, taken ownership, or used the space for a private affair, no one knows who Fred is or where he came from. Is it a mystery you think you can solve? 


Hear more stories like that of Fred on a Dallas ghost tour, or read more about the many haunts of Arlington, TX, on our blog. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to determine your next haunted destination.