Well… I had to think about this one for a Few Days…because it was One of Those Life-Changing Moments in The Life of Federico.
I’ll Skip Over the George Thorogood & J.Geils Bands. I will say I’ve seen the George Thorogood Band a couple times since this day. Honestly how does a musician like this get to Be Famous? On sheer Attitude, because he can’t really play, he got No Style, No Soul. Just kind of a total White-Boy letdown, I assume like all his fans as well. He doesn’t look all Rocker-Foxy…at all. One of the few rock acts, when he comes on the radio, I turn that dial as fast as I get my hands on it. Just Bad. Never did see Faye Dunaway either. She was probably Chilling at the Polo Lounge, not slumming out there with all us White Boys & Hells Angels. White Boy Rock. Somehow I’ve got a little Latino & Blackness in me & my music preference, Part of the Reason I Love the Stones.
So, about this time, the Acid Kicks In. Only a half-tab., and the One & Only Time I ate it ever before or since. Perfect. Massive Crowd…I’m starting to realize The Only Way is To Rise Above It…literally ~
Ladies & Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones!
So..of course, All of Us Get Separated.. Good thing we had those Walkie-Talkies, smuggled in our back pockets. Amazing no real security back then, pretty much Anything Goes through the Front Gate. “Geo, come on, Breaker Buddy, I’m in the stands due North of Stones’ stage, 6 rows back, row 38..busting a move to the Field, what’s your 10-20? Over.” cssssshhhhhhh…pure static. I’ve got my sideman Jackie D. with me, and we’re getting ready to Charge the Field, along with a surging wave of 50,000 other Stones & no doubt Stoned Maniacs….
I’m starting to see some Rainbow Colors, and they’re not all coming from that Stage Backdrop 100 yards & A Sea of People in front of me. “C’mon, Jackie, we’re Going for It”.
So – Forward went the Charge of The Light (Headed) Brigade..seemingly beginning to Float on a Psychedelic Cloud. It’s So Beautiful ! And over The Sound of One-Hundred-Thousand Coliseum Gladiators Roaring at Top Volume. Jagger..”Well Alright..!” By now, I’m Gliding Forward on a Sea Of Rock & Roll to the Promised Land..Mick leading the charge, Jumping & Dancing forward, hands over his head, just fueling the massive crowd on Rock Nitro. Keith & Ronnie Wood, new to the band, replacing Mick Taylor from the 70′s era. I’ve seen Ronnie previously with Rod Stewart & Faces. He & Keith with matching chopped-up Rocker Shag hair, ripping it up on twin 60′s vintage Fender Telecasters…
An aside on the Stones, as I have seen them a few times now. Over a period of 20 years since this day..Keith & Ronnie always have their Trusty Fender old-skool Basketweave Twin Reverb amps on stage with them. Early 1960′s-era, thrashed cases, with no-doubt State-of-The Art TLC to Keep those Babies Glowing. Wow, if those things could talk, the tales they would tell. Beat-up on the Outside but still Rocking on the Inside..
I know the Feeling All Too Well.
Something I have always admired about the most legendary Musicians I’ve seen. They can afford to their own Islands in the Carribean, be with some of the Hottest Ladies on the Planet. and in Mick’s case, be Knighted by the Queen of England, Sir Mick. No Small Honour. And yet they’re touring with 20-year $300. Fender amps backing them up, as they did and do still Sound the Best. Of course they’re playing through Monitors the Size of the World Trade Center Towers. Another example of this is Neil Young, who owns and has performed some of his most famous recordings with a 1940′s Martin acoustic guitar - Originally owned by none other than Hank Williams.
As I Glide on my Psychedelic Haze through the Crowd forward, I’m taking all this in. My Walkie-Talkie is chirping away in my back pocket, No Way in Hell to hear it, nor do I care, single-mindedlysurging ahead, by now So Smoothed-Out, I’m not even ruffling anyone’s feathers as I press on, to the Front of the Stage. The Gemini-Must Get to The Front in me, urging me forward on my Inescapable Quest. By now, my feet are off the ground. I’m so Chilled Out, I have made it to within about 50 feet from the front of the stage, Jagger directly in front of me. My feet are literally off the ground, as the crowd is so dense, I’m being held suspended about 6″ off my feet by Sheer Humanity…
Being Elevated Above the Crowd by several inches, I am taking in a Commanding View. Jagger is strutting about & Looks Directly at Me. Our eyes lock for a moment, and we communicate as he has no doubt done with millions of others in his amazing career. For me, I feel I am The Stones-Whisperer for that instant. The crowd is surging back & forth with the force of an Ocean of People, but I am Riding the Wave, held suspended in a Stones Haze. This is my Moment of Rock Nirvana & The Essence of my Story…
Needless to Say, this moment was indeed the highlight of the day..My friend, who is quite Fearless, The Inimitable Jackie Davis, a Pure-Bred 22-year-old Irishman quite experienced in Mayhem of All Sorts, is nearly crushed to death by the crowd. On departure, he is speechless & cowering in a darkest back corner of my van, having nearly Met his Maker in his mind this day. We’ve briefly acquired the company of some Unattached Ladies, who have Crammed in Back with the Boys. They last for a bit further along in the day, before Disappearing as Mysteriously as they Arrived. I never did get all the details, for I am Le Chauffeur ~ What Goes on in Back of Limo, Stays in Back of Limo.
By Days’ End, around 10pm, after a Grueling 14 hours thus far, I’m letting the Boys Out the van, still riding the Aftermath of Acid, but in Command of my Wits. Suddenly I’m pounced upon from the front by none other than the Blazing Headlights of my friends, The Huntington Beach Police Department. My boys have summarily departed, save my Companero, Geo. Loyo, who’s still in back, in the Shadows of the Van Interior. The cop headlights have blazed a 1000 Watt Daylight Awakening into my windshield, and snapping me Back To Reality rather abruptly. I exit the front & greet my fate head-on, casually strolling to the Front of the Stage, suddenly inspired to throw down a Command Performance. “Hello Officers, what seems to be the problem here ?” As I commence to giving an Oscar-Worthy acting job to my Captive Audience, I faintly, ever so faintly feel the van back door open from within, as I am Casually Leaning on the Van. Geo is Silently Sanitizing the contents from the rear of the van into the bushes by reaching just outside through a crack in the door….
I proceed with my Acid-fused Command Performance, regaling the Police of our Stones Adventure, and ‘Gee, what a Fun Day it was, Officers, I’m SO Glad to be Home..!’ (I was not at home). Somehow by the Grace of God & Sir Mick looking over us, I manage to De-Fuse the Situation & escape Certain Death, had the Cops searched the van, or even look in back. Our friends leave us, and after one of my Greatest Days Ever, capped by the greatest Best Actor Effort I’ve ever put forth, before or since, I’m Maxed Out, enlisting the efforts of Geo Our Saviour, to drive us home.. and so ends (one of my many) Longest Days of all ~ And its Adventures…
Cheers, F of C
We heard The Stones were Coming..The concert was still months away, at the L.A Coliseum which holds in excess of 100,000 people. Of Course We Had to Go. This would be the Biggest Concert I had been to Yet. My partner Geo & I had our 1st, well actually, 2nd Studio together in a Huntington Beach Industrial Park. Geo was a year younger than I, we were both the Art Stars in High School. Geo was Mexican. His family was from Mainland Mexico City and somehow he had inherited from his ancestors an Incredible Talent. The guy could illustrate in a total ancient Mayan way. Think of the glyphs inside the Pyramids at Chichen-itza, or if he wanted, straight from the hip-Diego Rivera, 1930′s Style. He was really good, always a better Illustrator than I. To this day probably the Purest Art Talent I have known ever. Anyhow, we were Partners in a Studio together, which was a bit of a Hangout for the Boys. My Buddy Jackie Davis had come by with Johnny Shortsleeve to help us Inaugurate the Studio. We had a Sparkletts water cooler in the corner. The Boys showed up with a Sparkletts bottle, a glass one filled with Cuervo Gold Tequila, & swapped it onto the cooler, replacing the water. Johnny had recently Crashed his Camaro on a 405 offramp & rolled it, ended in a ditch, all Iceplant with his left arm pinned under the car all nite ’til they found him in the morning and pulled him out. He Was Medicating. Great. Thanks Boys.
This was the End of an Era of the Stadium Concert. Going to these was a Total Expedition. A Commitment. Nowadays the shows last for maybe an hour, 90 minutes? ‘Let’s get a Starbucks before so we don’t Fall Asleep, K’? Weak. Back then you would prep for days to Gear Up for Concerts like the California Jam. The 1st one was held at the Ontario Motor Speedway, California’s answer to the Indianapolis 500-style of Racetrack. Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Oak Arkansas, ELP, Earth, Wind & Fire & Assorted Other Bands, ALL IN ONE DAY. Read the Fine Print..ticket price $14. It was Hot, Dusty & Mega-Packed with People from all over California, Arizona & God Only Knows where else. Awesome. You would Get a Whole Summer Tan in One Day. We went to these things all the time. Anaheim Stadium, Big Giant Venues-Stadium Style. Closest thing now is The Coachella Music Festival. But I have yet to see the likes of bands like Deep Purple & Black Sabbath & Black Oak Arkansas show up there all in one day, or even 2. VIP Tent? Forget it, All for One & One for All. Incredible Rock Madness. Dirt, Dust, Drugs. It pretty much was Arkansas. Now the Stones were Coming. We were Huge Stones Fans. I Still Am…Wikipedia says this about the Tour stopping in L.A we were Gearing Up For Next -
The Rolling Stones‘ American Tour 1981 was a concert tour of stadiums and arenas in the United States to promote the album Tattoo You. It was the largest grossing tour of 1981 with $50 million in ticket sales. Roughly three million concert goers attended the concerts, setting various ticket sales records.[
Geo & I both had Vintage 60′s era VW Vans. His was a Thrasher & he got in a wreck & did a full California-style Masterpiece re-do on it. I had paid too much for mine, a ’65, something like $1900. That was a lot then. Tinted side windows, bed in back, jamming stereo. I drove it to New Mexico & blew up the engine on the way back. I Painted it a Solid German Blue in our shop, no 2-tone. I put in a Brand-New 1800cc Screamer in there. Instant Porsche Cayenne in a Breadbox. Much cooler than the big-ass American Vans the Rednecks drove. But I gotta admit, I had had a Redneck Van myself. I had bought it new for $6000 from the Chevy Dealer, a Black one. Bad Move. Crappiest vehicle I ever owned, and to this day, the only New Car I ever bought. Hated it. What a Lemon. I was buried in payments on that Thing for awhile. So now it was The Reagonomics Era, and Gas had become pricey, so we got some Cool VW Vans & Styled Them Out. The ’Cal-Look’. They are actually called the VW Kombi.
We rolled down Beach Blvd. to the combination Head Shop/Ticket Agency & Checked Out the Stones’ advance sale Ticket Prices. They had these hand-typed lists on Ditto paper that said Who, When, Where & How Much concert tickets were coming. The Stones were maxing out at like $45 bucks each ! NO way Dude. That was Out of Hand. No Internet. No craigslist. Scalpers around & about we knew… No Dice. Tickets Maxed Out. We thought We Weren’t Going.
New Wave & Punk Shows were Happening, and we saw bands like X at the Whisky, Slam Dance-Mosh Pit History in the Making..By Now we only listened to tiny KROQ from Pasadena on the radio. Rodney on the Rocks. The Legendary Rodney Bingenheimer had debuted New Wave Bands like Devo & Talking Heads, Blondie, Black Flag & The Buzzcocks in L.A. We could barely get the station in, it was so small, no ‘bandwidth’ so to speak. We knew we were gonna have to be Punk-Rockers soon, but for now we were still Rockers, hanging on the Last Vestiges of a Dying (for the moment) Genre. We hadn’t sold out to be ‘Punk Rockers’ yet. A lot of them really were just that. Punks.
The New-Wave & Punk Bands never played the Big Venues. We went to the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, and they were Cool but almost Too Cool. The New-Wave & Punk Era did influence my Graphics Sense a lot though, Anti-Style. We loved that, to this day if I can lay out type Crooked & Dirty, I will. However for the Moment were up for one more Major Rock Expedition..load up the Vans & Go. We knew the days were numbered for those Big Blow-Out Stadium Shows. We were already Nostalgic about it. Veterans.
We loved the Stones because they were So Good, they Made Fun of all the other emerging genres of Music as they came along, like 70′s Country Rock & Disco. Then they came out with tracks that were better than all the bands taking those genres seriously. Songs like Dead Flowers & Country Honk made fun of Country while being Great Country Songs. The Stones had the Hottest Girls, the most Ultra-Jet-Set Lifestyle, The Most Money & the Most Legendary Notoriety. Andy Warhol did their album covers. The Hells Angels did their security in Cailfornia. We Had to Make That Show Hell or High Water. A Bright, Sunny October morning, I’m pacing around the Shop like a Tiger. No Tickets. Geo & I are looking at each other & fuming. Then the Boys Show Up, with this look on their faces like we’re Going on our Last Mission to Bomb the Nazis, We May Not Return. “Get in the Van, Boys”, I say. “We’re going to the Stones”. We loaded up & left, no prep, no tickets. We did grab our 2 Walkie-Talkies we used around the shop. One of us had got them for Xmas when we were were kids & now they were a novelty to use in the Shop, like an intercom system…”Jorge, it’s that girl you met at Sav-On, on the phone, are you here ?, Over”. Geo did pretty well with the Muchachas. We brought the Walkie-Talkies.
I’ve got Jackie D., (My To-This-Day-Since-Then Main Man), Johnny Shortsleeve, a bit torn-up from his Camaro Roll-over, some other guy who I’ve lost track of, in the back of my van. We’ve stopped for beers & they are drinking & smoking H-B style Mexican weed back there, undercover of dark tinted windows. Geo is a Torrid Bud Smoker as well, however I never really have been. He is riding Shotgun & yours truly Mr. Motocross Champion driving. I roll up the road & it’s Weekday (A Holiday for Us), Traffic & I hit the offramp. There, on the side is the Most Glorious Sight. 2 dudes holding HIGH FOR ALL TO SEE… STONES TICKETS !! I pull over right on the side, van side doors bust open with 3 maniacs each with a fistful of cash. We end up getting 5 tickets for face value, which is $16. Unbelievable. I can still see those guys out my windshield clear as day, like 2 Disciples from Heaven. So we roll to the Coliseum, or rather about 4 blocks from it. The whole zone, where Staples Center is now, Solid Brothas from the ‘Hood selling any scrap of concrete for parking, like $5. We Saddle Up & at the very last minute, somebody – probably Medicated Johnny says, “Fred, have a hit”. It’s Acid. Great. This is a new addition to my Repertoire. So I eat half, Grab my Walkie -Talkie & Start Walking. Us & 100,000 other Crazed Stones Fans…
Five years later we’re in on the field. It’s early. The Lineup is Some Band we never Heard of, Called Prince. George Thorogood (Not a fan at all). The J.Geils Band, who I don’t love either. However lead singer Peter Wolf is married to actress Faye Dunaway. Her I’m a Big Fan Of, maybe I’ll get to see her. A Main Stones-only stage at one end about 200 miles in front of us… and we’re right behind a pack of real-deal Hell’s Angels at a smaller stage. Opening Act Prince comes out first, never heard of him. Wearing an open trench-coat, blazing October heat. Thigh-highs & I think garter belts underneath with 6″ Black Platform boots. Prince is all dancing & prancing around trying to do his thing. Prince’s guitar player is Pretty Androgynous Looking as well. The Angels are having none of it. Within 2 songs they are hurling half-full Coors beer bottles at Prancing Prince, and hitting him. Prince looks a fright & terribly crestfallen soaked with Coors Beer & he is Gone. See you later Prince, Whoever You Are. Stay Tuned for Part 2…..
I Lived on Newport Blvd. & 28th Street in Newport Beach. I was 18 & my roomate & cousin, Mr. Joseph Batchelor, the Clone of Jan-Michael Vincent, was 17. I was more like Brad Hamilton from ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont’, but, without the Pirate Hat. J.B. was my Sidekick since age 7 or so. I was going to Orange Coast College, Contemporary Art History and Design 101. My wheels were the ones I never should have sold. 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, stuffed to the gills with a 275-horsepower 289 Ford V8 & 4-Speed. Good for about 120 mph in that little car, and a highly sought-after Item nowadays. We used to blast Johnny Winter, Bowie, Stones & Ted Nugent on the stereo in the house a lot. Standard Newport Background Noise, 1976.
I had bought the car for $700. sitting in some guy’s yard in Silverado Canyon, outside under a tree, and it sure didn’t look like that when I bought it. Today a nice one is worth between $25 to $60,000, so that was a insanely good deal for an all-original one, even then. I was driving it to school one day up a hill over the 405. A big station wagon was in front of me & stalled abruptly, causing me to smash hard into the back of it. Just thrashed my car up to the engine in front, a very light-weight body that was trashed. My forehead hit & broke the wood steering wheel. But I was okay. Turned out the girl driving was under-age, her Mom was letting her drive. the insurance ruled in my favor, that car was in the shop 2 months & came out looking like, well, the picture. Brand New car, paint, alloy mag wheels, new Pioneer 8-track stereo. Thanks, under-age girl, for Styling Me Out. Easily worth the Mild Concussion.
I had already done & seen a lot. I’d had probably the coolest girlfriend ever, Mishel. My first, a true California girl that wore vintage Mexican skirts with sequins on them in High School, no other girl had her Style. Mishel worked as a shaper at the Morey Boogie factory. Boogie Boards had just come out, they weren’t even called ‘Boogie Boards’ then. Just Morey Boogies, and they were shaped by hand in the beginning like surfboards. She worked with all dudes, a Sureform hand planer in the back pocket of her boardies in a shaping bay just like the boys. We had broken up & I was a batchelor at this point. My motocross & desert racing career was pretty much over, but I still went riding with my Dad all the time. And Mishel & I would Reunite. I should have Married her & I knew it, but I was 18-19.
Since around age 8, I had started riding mini-bikes, then trying to MotoCross my StepMom’s French Mobylette Mo-ped around the neighborhood when I was about 11. (Ladie’s step-through model, 50 cc pea-shooter, White Wall tires not good off-road gear). I Graduated through a series of mini-bikes & small cycles to Full-Size Motocross motorcycles, up to the 400 cc Husqvarna. Czech CZ’s, Spanish Montesas & Ossas. My Dad & I shared them all.
I raced on Weekends for around 3 years at Saddleback Park & the Mojave Desert, with the Big Boys. The family house was adjacent to an open field, as yet undeveloped, but not for long. We made a full-on Motocross Track out back & I practiced after school out there & raced on Weekends. The local Yuppie Cops would try to ride their heavy street Cop Bikes into the field to bust us. I had 2 boards rigged in the fence bordering the field, I’d let them get close then blaze head-down right through those 2 boards & escape out the neighborhood, totally non-legal off-Road race bike smoking down the streets at 70 mph, kill the motor & coast home. Those guys were so pissed at me, they couldn’t ride very well even on the Street. They Knew Who I Was. I used to fire up that Badass Huqvarna, Seriously LOUD, & just rip through the Neighborhood. One hot Summer Day the new Asphalt on our street was soft from the Heat. I Burned down the street on my MX Bike, which could tear Black chunks Out of the Pavement with that Gnarly rear Knobby tire. 50 Horsepower in a 200 lb. Bike. Seriously Fast. Guys like J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith & Steve McQueen were my Heroes. My Dad & I rode Desert, Motocross & Enduro in the Idaho Forests. I was a Pretty Good rider & he was no Slouch either, having had Motorcycles since being in England during WWII , 30 years’ worth. He had Taught me to Ride Well, since around age 8. My old Trusty StingRay & Motocross bikes & gear were stowed at his house, The Keeper of the Gear, Coolest Garage Always filled with a Lotus, or a ’69 SS 396 Big-Block El Camino, always something Cool in there since Day 1. But I had Moved Out, Doing my Thing.
I’d been to Europe after High school & seen a bit of it. Now I was on my own, working, figuring out about Art & Design. I loved Warhol’s work, he was very much still alive then & working. Just a Big Influence from the start. I had been playing guitar for a couple years & took a Classical Guitar class at OCC, the Jr. college I was enrolled for an AA degree. In the Class was a girl named Janet. She was a Total Farrah Clone. But complete Dingbat Dumb Blonde. Man, she defined that term.
Poor Janet, she was Total Farrah-Style, & she Embraced it, Purposefully Farrah. Feathered Farrah Hair, that Metallic silvery-white lipstick, white Ditto jeans too tight, all teeth & giggly..tee hee. The girl was completely Tone-Deaf, had no musical talent at all, & she decided I would be the Perfect Victim to get her through the class, and I was. Man, she had Zero Musical Ability. so of course I ended up Dating Her, but it wasn’t easy. I had Farrah in my Sports Car with the top down, Farrah Hair Everywhere. Then I met her Sister, who was a bit older, owned a Newport Beach Hair Salon, etc. She was way more sophisticated & older, polished. I was just starting to do some graphics, airbrush (total 70′s!) and that. So I painted this spacy, trippy 70′s mural on the wall of her Salon. It was called Inner Visions for Hair-what else? One of my first paying freelance jobs. Janet & I didn’t have too much in common, she didn’t last long. I was out of there.
Around the corner from our house on ‘The Boulevard’, Main Street, USA in Newport, was a Mexican restaurant called El Ranchito. We went there all the time for takeout. It was really good. So this one night, I’m camped out in my room, which was the screened-in front sun porch on our old California Bungalow house. I had one of my conquests from OCC over. She was a beautiful Redhead. she deserved better, I forget her name, she was cool, but I was 18, and, well. In the middle of the night suddenly there is Massive Automatic Weapons Fire Right in Front of the House. About 25 rounds BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM!!!!!!! We were literally under the Bed, terrified. I look out & see a big Black Town Car just blasted in the middle of the street, riddled with Bullets, doors open. Turns out the El Ranchito Boys were Cocaine Cowboys. something went Awry that night Big Time. Somebody got blasted right out front, like a Movie. If you ever see the film Cocaine Cowboys, Newport was like Miami in that movie back then. But we didn’t know anything about it, we were still just kids. These Carteles were all older, Player-Type Guys. I see now that El Ranchito has 11 Locations in the Newport Beach area…so There You Go.
I was Working in a Retail Commercial Nursery, a lot like the Home Depot-style ones, after awhile I moved back home for a bit. I don’t remember why, Not for Long. I worked with this guy, Jesse who was the Boss of the Dept., he was 22, I was around 18. He set me up with a Fake I.D. so I could go to the Clubs. He lived in a cool Newport Pad also. We became Fast Friends. We were both Killer Salesmen, & Since we worked in the Dept. with the most high-end goods in the store, like Toro Ride-Along Lawnmowers & other power Garden tools, we had potential to gross the most $ for the store, and we did. We had Carte-Blanche in that place and got away with Murder. But we would kill it on the Weekends, each selling 4-5 Mowers apiece in a day. Everyone was Fixing Up their New 70′s Tract Houses, & that store was packed on weekends. We had our Rap Down. This was the Era of Hawaiian Shirts, Puka Shells, all of that. I was & Always have been a big fan of Vintage Wear. So I had all kinds of Cool Hawaiians to wear. Jesse & I made it a rule that every Sunday in the Garden Shop was Hawaiian Day. If you worked that day, you had to show up with a Hawaiian on, or we sent your ass home to get one, or Don’t Come Back today. The managers backed us up on it too. We had access to the warehouse where all the inventory was stored. These 2 very fine-looking ladies started working as Cashiers, they were new, so we decided we were going to Impress Them.We went & got the 2 store forklifts, & started around the store, these girls were cashiers just inside the floor to ceiling windows in front. There’s around 5000 people & cars in the parking lot on a Sweltering Summer Sunday. The pavement is melting it’s so hot. We’re drag-racing each other in these 2 10,000 lb. forklifts to the front so the girls will see us, Hawaiian shirts flowing. And Jesse’s wheels dig in the soft pavement & he bails out and flips his over ! My God, I just putted around back, parked my lift & went back to work.I don’t know how he dodged a bullet on that one but he did. Insurance, liability all of that. They couldn’t fire him, he was a manager. Those girls were ours after that stunt. They were inside howling laughing in that nice air-conditioned store, 100′s of customers looking on in sheer horror. We sold so much product there, we could do no wrong.
This guy named Terry came on & worked with us. He was a bit younger but a Very Smooth Operator, and had the Requisite Hawaiians, so he was In. A very tall guy, Terry rode a Kawasaki 750 Triple. Probably one of the Quickest Street Bikes ever, worth a fortune now. In 1976 this bike was downright Evil & Terry had one. He also had a Devastating Girlfriend, and she had a Devastating Friend. Terry also had 4 tickets to see David Bowie, On Tour with Mick Ronson. Bowie had swept in a year or 2 earlier & Immediately transformed the Music Scene. Girls in High School immediately turned into Glam Gueens overnight, wearing rad Shag Bowie haircuts, Glitter makeup, Super-short Hot Pants and Glitter-covered 6″ Platforms to school. Thank You Bowie, He Had Instant Power. There had been Donovan before him, there was also T.Rex with Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, but Bowie completely Dominated. He was, & Is, the Man. Glam was It. To this Day I believe he is the Richest Rock Star. With Good Reason. And happily married to the Hottest Rock Star Wife. Well done after 40 years on the job. So I took Terry’s Girlfriend’s Friend to Bowie. She was devastatingly Foxy. As soon as we got to the show, she disappeared. I didn’t care. Bowie & Ronson put on to this day the most engaging performance I’ve ever seen. I didn’t take my eyes off the guy for 2 hours. And the rest of the evening all worked out, as well. Station to Station is by far my favorite Bowie album. Awesome Performance. Awesome Night.
The year was 1967 or ’68, Somewhere in There..I was hanging in Downtown Huntington Beach ~ Surf City USA. I never lived there when I was a kid (I did later) My Cousin Joey Batchelor did. Joey looked & acted exactly like a 9 year-old Jan Michael -Vincent. He was Just Like that guy. Spitting image. Blonde straight surfer hair, all over on one side. We were Hell-Raisers. Joey & his Mom Marlene & her other kids lived in this Thrasher Spanish Bunglalow right on the PCH in Huntington. Man, that lady could not Keep House at all. It was always a Pigsty. It was just near the Gordie Surfboards Shop. It’s Long Gone but Gordie’s was a Classic Calif. Surf Shop, 8 & 9-foot longboards all lined up out front, Tropical Pastel colors, redwood stringers, Pre-Shortboard Era. Oil Wells for a backyard. Stainky things, they were still Everywhere then, leftover from the whole 20′s ‘There Will Be Blood’ Era.
My Dad had been dating Joey’s Mom but ended marrying her Twin Sister. Damn, that must have burned her. What a Player. I had to Shake my Head at his Macho Gall even then. So I would Go Down there & Hang & we would Skate the whole Downtown. This is all way pre-Dogtown Z-Boys era. Joey was a year younger than me but we were always Competing on Everything, about Even. My Swinging 60′s Dad had married Joey’s Mom’s Sister by then so I inherited a fresh Brother & Sister & several Cousins, including Joey. Me & Joey ( I know, but that’s how I would’ve said it back then), used to skateboard down Main Street in Huntington Beach to Downtown, Main & PCH, Surf City Ground Zero. We had been shredding the concrete outdoor hallways of our school already for a few years. We made our 1st skateboards from 2×4′s, and we would schmooze the neighborhood girls & snag their Roller Derby white lace-up roller skates & pry the riveted-on wheels off with a screwdriver. Hammer the plates flat & nail ‘em to the bottom of the 2×4. Skateboard ! STEEL 3/8″ wide wheels, no trucks, Pre-Clay wheels, Way Pre-Urethane. We didn’t ride pools like the Z-Boys later in Dogtown Venice did later. We had no concept of pool riding. We were ‘Sidewalk Surfers’ shredding the flat concrete. There was this one corner, a hard right-hand 90-degree downhill sweeper, that was Dead Man’s Curve. You would always hit the smallest rock & Go Flying trying to make it. Sprained ankles, wrists, raspberry knees & elbows, ripped-up pants. Standard Skater Fashionistos.
Then Came Revelation! A Revolution! Clay Wheels. 3 times as wide as Steelies! Stores started carrying manufactured Skateboards. My first store-bought skater was The Black Knight. An Oak plywood deck with real clay wheels, badass ball bearings & trucks, actual turning-action & all-round a totally new machine.
Now we could shred the Banks on the local Miniature Golf Course. We’d sneak in there at night & just burn up the Turf.
So now you could hit Dead Man’s Curve & MAKE IT all the time. I saved my allowance for Weeks & bought it at Leonard’s Department Store… Cool Black Knight ! It was around $7. or $8. bucks That was A lot.
‘Champion Surfer’ Corky Carroll was always Hanging Out down there trying to impress everyone. He was an Ass. Total Short Man Syndrome. Then David Nuuhiwa Came to Town. Corky Shut Up real fast after that. Corky was a Kook.
Joey & I would go drive the Model T Ford Cars-a ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. Knott’s wasn’t a big Theme Park then. It really had been a farm, they had a few rides, the whole place was still very quaint & rural. It was cool. It was right on Beach Blvd. next to the real highway just over the fence. The cars weren’t on tracks, had small engines & ran on gasoline. They went about 20 mph. Pretty fast when you’re 9. Those cars probably had been running that track for 20 years. They were Thrashed. We floored those things for all they were worth.
We would actually pass the Tourists on the Track. It was a Dirt track & you could just literally slide & blow a rooster-tail of Dirt in their Faces. 2 California Kids razzing the Tourists. They Kept & Fixed all the Cars in that Barn there. I wanted to Work there So Bad. Later they put the cars on tracks and paved the track which was Not Happening at all. Like the Autopia slowpoke Cars at Disneyland. We were Not Happy about This. We had already Been Drivin for Real’. So that’s how I learned how to Drive. I was a Pro by 16. Got a 100% on my Test.
We used to go there All the Time. Buena Park. How California of a name is that?
We would buy our StyroFoam Surfboards at the Grocery Store. They cost like $2.99, maybe less.We could stand up & Surf on them ’til they’d break in half. ’Styrofoam’ was a brand new material then. High-Density surfboard foam came from the Military in WWII originally. But the low-density cheap-o kind was new. Nobody had Cool Plastic Coolers or those ‘GetAway’ ones or whatever they are back then. All there was were the Styrofoam kind with these yellow rope handles on them, like Waterski tow rope. Of course they were just big enough to hold a Sixer, but that did not occur to me then. So many things were still made by hand back then. Everything said ‘Made in Japan’. I guess we Forgave Them.
The StyroFoam Surfboards were up in front of the store wrapped in Plastic with the Charcoal and Dog Food. Everybody fed their Dogs canned Dog Food. There was dry then but it was pretty basic. No Dog would Eat it. Steel Cans. Aluminum cans weren’t invented yet. Sodas, Beers, Tuna, all Steel. This all way before Recycling, No IAMS Dog Food for the Eco-Bio Dog like now. People burned their Trash in Outdoor Incinerators in their backyard whenever they wanted. The Neighborhood smelled like a Campfire all the time because people were burning their trash back there – Mexico style. Your basic Household Trash Cans were Steel, like old war-surplus Oil Drums. My Dad would heft those over his head, Clean & Jerk up to a Full Military Press and Carry ‘em out.. All the other Dads rolled theirs out to the Curb. Now I do the same thing whenever I pick stuff like that up. But he was a lot Stronger than I’ll Ever be. He drank this beer called Brew 102.
Doing research for this article I come to find that all these people collect old Beer Cans. Buy and sell them on e-Bay, that sort of thing. Too bad they didn’t know us back then, we burned up 100′s of those things in the Backyard incinerator every Saturday, contributing to the demise of the Atmosphere & Environment of the Greater Los Angeles area. We could’ve saved them for 45 years & got all that Beer Money back on e-Bay.
Another Big Breakthrough in Modern Technology for us was the Invention of the Schwinn Sting-Ray. We had been riding a whatever hodge-podge of Bikes, and may have already had a Thrasher mini-bike or 2 around by then also. I’ve had so many wheeled vehicles I don’t remember the exact whole cross-over from pedal to power. The Sting-Ray was just THE COOLEST bike back then and it pretty much still is. THIS WAS A MUST-HAVE… If you did not have this bike in your equipment line-up, well it was pretty much the equivalent of not having Air to breathe. Your basic Sting-Ray came in around 5 colors.I could look it up but that just wouldn’t be right about this…I should remember… Red (as shown), A Cool Metallic Blue, Gold and Metallic Green. I think that’s it. I do know you could choose from a Knobby (treaded) tire in back, if you were a Quasi-Moto-Crosser (or ‘MX’ for short) this term had not been invented yet either. In Europe it was called ‘Cross’, I believe. We’ll get to that later. Or, if you were a ‘Dragger’, you could get a cool Drag Slick tire in back. THIS was the Hot Set-Up. You also had your choice of a plain White seat (shown), or Leopard print seat, which was so BEYOND COOL it was almost unbelievable. When I first saw this bike, maybe on T.V., it was almost Diaper Time, a throwback of about 6 years for me at this point.
So FINALLY Xmas came & I got one. It wasn’t exactly the one I wanted. It was Metallic Green & I think had these lame wrap-around 10-speed-style ‘Rams-Horn’ handlebars instead of the Bad-Ass Ape Hangers as shown. Also I got a Knobby tire in back. Well, I was a little peeved, but I was never the kid that spelled out exactly the Christmas List B.S. I always felt that to be a bit presumptuous & damn, my Dad took really good care of me, so I Bit the Bullet on this one.
I never really got over it. Plain Blue with the White seat & Slick was Cool. Very Drag-Style. Leopard seat..beyond Boss, which was we called everything Cool back then. That is SO Boss! That’s What I Really Wanted. But somehow there was a lesson to be learned there somewhere…& even then I knew it. Damn, no Slick. Apparently I never got over the Leopard Seat thing either, because ever since I’ve always loved Leopard-Print. I have some very Cool Leopard Bar-Stools that used to be in my Leopard Bar in my house. Whenever I see a woman with Leopard on, I go Weak in the Knees Immediately.
There were these Bikers that lived a ways away in a Different Neighborhood, on the other side of our school. They had all these Greasy Dirty Harley rigid-frame Panhead choppers in the driveway. They had full-on ‘Colors’, Levi jackets with the sleeves cut off & covered with patches. They had Chains hanging off & Biker Boots, which are Red-Wing railroad Lineman’s or Engineer boots. The Jackets all said HESSIANS on the back, with cool skulls.
These guys were the Real Deal, and we were not supposed to think they were cool, but they were so Counter-Culture, Evil-looking, nasty, dirty with Loud, ratty bikes, well of course, we did. They were Cool. Their beat-down tract house was right on Magnolia Street, directly across the street from the front of our school parking lot. While we were in class they were over there all day raging, in & out, bikes everywhere, front door open, Full-on torn down Panhead motors laying on the Living Room carpet, Grease & Oil Biker Mania. Joey & I Had to Check it Out.
We were specifically Not Allowed to cross Magnolia Street. “Under Any Circumstances”. Yeah,Right ! It was a super-busy street, fast cars hauling ass by, not our ‘hood, too far from home. So of course that’s where we were headed. There was a kid from the Hessian Biker House that went to our school. He was scary, older than us and a Bad-Ass and we didn’t really know him. He Blew us Off. He was a Real Biker Kid. We were just kids.
So One Day we ride our Sting-Rays over there, sort of nearby but not too close so as not to raise attention. We were wearing standard Converse All-Stars and the usual candy-ass JC Penney school gear.
The Chopper Kid comes Flying out the front door Ready To Kill Us or Beat Us Down, so we ride, ride, RIDE as fast as we can back to our street, barely ahead of him. He would’ve Kicked Our Ass. After that, he didn’t come on our block and we didn’t go on his. Mind Your Business.
In the movie Chinatown,
there’s a reference made to the
Morty: Yeah, he drowned too.
Gittes: Come again?
Morty: Yeah, he got drunk. Passed out in the bottom of the riverbed.
Gittes: The LA River?
Morty: Yeah, right under Hollenbeck Bridge. What’s wrong with that?
Gittes: It’s dry as a bone, Morty.
Morty: It’s not so completely dry.
Gittes: Well, he ain’t gonna exactly drown in a damp riverbed no matter how soused he is.
Morty: We got water out of him…He drowned…
7th Street Viaduct ~ L.A. 1910
There is no Hollenbeck Bridge in Los Angeles, as referenced in the film ‘Chinatown.’ The only bridges over the Los Angeles River are on Broadway, 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th and Olympic. 6th Street once had a bridge that spanned Hollenbeck Park, but that would not be the bridge in ‘Chinatown’ because that film specifically remarks ‘on the meager amount of water existing in the Los Angeles River, too low to drown a human.’ The producers of the film Chinatown most likely used poetic license to provide a ‘more Los Angeles’ allusion in describing the scene, rather than simply calling it a numbered street bridge. The producers of the movie used the 7th and Olympic Bridge as the ‘Hollenbeck’ Bridge.
Trapped and Desperate in L.A. ~
Evelyn Mulwray pulls her Pistol to Escape her Fate on the Mean Streets of Chinatown..
Faye Dunaway ~ Chinatown, 1974
Directed by Roman Polanski, now exiled from returning to Calfornia to escape a statutory rape charge, Chinatown is easily one of the best films ever to depict period L.A. a la 1947.
Raymond Chandler would have approved.
In a Ironic ‘Film Noir’ real-life twist of fate, A Foreign Director makes one of the best films ever about L.A., only to be exiled by that same city, having endured the Torture of having his pregnant wife, Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, brutally murdered by the Manson Family in the Hollywood Hills 5 years before. Then raping a 13 year-old girl a few years later, convicted in absentia for the offense, only never to return and living in exile 40 years later because of it…
Only in Hollywood.
The Hollywoodland sign was built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler as an epic $21,000 billboard for his upscale Hollywoodland real estate development, the Sign soon took on the role of giant marquee for a city that was constantly announcing its own gala premiere. The “billboard” was massive. Each of the original 13 letters was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, constructed of 3×9′ metal squares rigged together by an intricate frame of scaffolding, pipes, wires and telephone poles.
A giant white dot (35 feet in diameter, with 20-watt lights on the perimeter) was constructed below the Sign to catch the eye. The Sign itself featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart. At night the Sign blinked into the Hollywood night: first “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land,” punctuated by a giant period. The effect was truly spectacular, particularly for pre-Vegas sensibilities. Originally intended to last just a year and a half, the Sign has endured more than eight decades – and is still going strong…
The original houses are still there as well, in Beechwood Canyon. They look just the same and are some of the the most well-preserved 1920′s homes in Hollywood today…
In 1932, Peg Entwistle, a New York stage actress, became the symbol of the dark side of the Hollywood dream. Emboldened by her Broadway success, the ambitious young actress soon set her sights on the silver screen. She packed her bags for Hollywood and moved in with her uncle on Beachwood Drive – virtually in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign.
Unfortunately, Peg failed to make a splash, and she spent most of the brutally hot summer of ’32 hanging around her uncle’s house, waiting for a phone call that never came. Finally, on the evening of September 18th, Peg told her uncle that she was going to meet some friends at a nearby drug store, but this was a sad lie.
Peg instead made the arduous hike up the canyon hill to the Hollywood Sign, her one-time beacon of hope but now a symbol of failure and rejection. She climbed 50 feet up a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and plunged to her death. Peg Entwistle – dubbed by tabloids as the “The Hollywood Sign Girl” – was only 24 years old.
In Yet Another cruel Hollywood twist of irony, a letter to Peg arrived the day after her death from the Beverly Hills Playhouse. She was offered the lead role in a play … about a woman driven to suicide. Moral of the Story ~ Always Wait One More Day Before Killing Self…
L.A. 1947 0r 1997 ? The Film L.A. Confidential
Another great movie to depict L.A in the Day is the film L.A. Confidential…
Set in essentially the same ‘Noir’ period, the early 50′s as in the L.A. photos above, the film outlines the Seedy Pulp Fiction-style underbelly of L.A. Filmed almost entirely on Location in L.A. in 1997, it illustrates how little some scenes in the City Have Changed and Remain the Same…Now as Then.
In the Film a Dubious ‘businessman’, Pierce Patchett, lives in a Groovy Post-Modern Pad high in the Hollywood Hills, Drives a Stylish 50′s Red Jaquar roadster & Lives a Little too Large for his Own Good…and That Pad is Actually…
The Lovell House, Richard Neutra, 1927 ~ One Cool Pad
The Doors & The Lizard King ~ 1965
When it comes to this era of The L.A.Club Scene, the Doors undeniably made a bigger mark on that history than any other band, by far. Even as an 8 year-old kid, I knew who they were, early on. They were from L.A, so they got a lot of L.A. Radio time & Press. The Doors were also signifigant as to marking the Emergence of L.A. based record label, Elektra, which later became Elektra-Asylum Records. An L.A. Rock powerhouse, producing records for not only the Doors but gaining considerable prestige on the music scene by being one of the first labels to sign up other leading acts from the new wave of American psychedelic rock of 1966–67. After All, Jim Morrison did write L.A. Woman, and This Story IS all About The L.A. Music Scene in the 60′s.. The Doors should be credited with bringing arguably the Biggest Notoriety to the Burgeoning L.A. Music Scene, especially with regard to the Sunset Strip & Whisky aGo Go. More than any other Band or Musician, The Doors Established L.A. as Rock City on the Map for Good.
Rick & The Ravens, founded in 1961, was the band Ray Manzarek was in before he joined The Doors. The band recorded three singles on Aura Records before splitting up and reforming as The Doors in early October of 1965.
The band used to perform on weekends for college crowds, mostly from UCLA Film School, at a bar on 2nd Street and Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica,California, called the Turkey Joint West, a British pub operated by the Santa Monica Soccer and Social Club, since 1974 known as Ye Olde King’s Head. Their setlist consisted of their own originals, padded with standards such as “I’m Your Doctor, I Know What You Need,” “Louie, Louie,” Smokey Robinson‘s “Money” andWillie Dixon‘s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
During that summer of ’65, Manzarek was living in Venice, south of Santa Monica. By accident, he ran into Jim Morrison. “I had been friendly with Jim at UCLA, and we had talked about rock ‘n’ roll even then. After we graduated, he said he was going to New York. Then, two months later, in July, I met him on the beach of Venice. He said he had been writing some songs, so we sat on the beach and I asked him to sing some of them. He did, and the first thing he tried was ‘Moonlight Drive’. When he sang those first lines…
“Let’s swim to the moon/ let’s climb through the tide/ penetrate the
evening/ that the city sleeps to hide” …. I said, “That’s it”. I’d never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before. We talked we talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars.”
In an interview conducted by Rainer Moddemann, Manzarek stated the first song Jim Morrison performed with Rick & the Ravens was Richard Berry‘s “Louie Louie.” Morrison was not officially part of the band at that time; Manzarek simply invited his former college colleague on stage, much to everyone’s surprise. Morrison was reportedly not prepared for this — his first public performance — and sang himself hoarse. Morrison and Manzarek had met previously and found each other sharing a lot of musical and artistic interests. Later Manzarek asked Morrison to join the band; Morrison accepted.
Although Rick & the Ravens do not sound at all like the Doors, they did play their small part in the early career of the Doors. On September 2, 1965 the band entered World Pacific Studios and recorded six songs that would eventually become Doors songs; “Moonlight Drive“, “My Eyes Have Seen You”, “Hello, I Love You“, “Go Insane” (the early title of “A Little Game” from the “Celebration of the Lizard” suite, known simply as “Insane” on the acetate), “End of the Night”, and “Summer’s Almost Gone“. The recording session was a relatively quick affair, only lasting three hours in total. Singer Morrison was reportedly delighted to hear his voice on a record for the first time. The demo was released in its entirety on The Doors’ box set in 1997. The tracks on the box setwere mastered from what was originally Jim Morrison’s acetate–now in the possession of Ray Manzarek–which was one of only 5 made.
After the demo was recorded, the band tried to pass it around. Both Jim and Rick Manzarek were disappointed in the response to the demo — additionally both of the Manzareks, along Sullivan, were not impressed by the new Morrison songs — and subsequently the Manzarek brothers, sans Ray, quit the band, stating they felt the band was “going nowhere fast“
At Morrison’s suggestion the band changed its name to The Doors a month after they had recorded the demo, shortly prior to Krieger joining the line-up. The band took their name from the title of a book by Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, which was in turn borrowed from a line of poetry by the 18th century artist and poet William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed , everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite.”
The 4 rehearsed for four or five months and played at a few private parties, including one given by Krieger’s parents.After practicing daily in a friend’s house behind the Santa Monica greyhound bus depot, The Doors made a humorously premature debut on the stage of UCLA’s Royce Hall, providing “live sound track” to a screening of Manzarek’s design film, “Who And Where I Live”. Krieger played guitar, Manzarek played flute, and Densmore, Morrison, and sundry girlfriends pounded on drums, rattles, claves, and tambourines.
A small, funky club called the London Fog located between the Hamburger Hamlet and the Galaxy on Sunset Strip was the first real club date for the Doors. They played for five dollars apiece on weeknights, double on weekends, seven nights a week, four sets per night. Because at the time they didn’t have sufficient original material for such a long gig, over half their set consisted of blues and rock ‘n’ roll classics, such asGloria, Little Red Rooster and Who Do You Love? Once again, a faithful core of students from the UCLA film school followed them, but on the strip, a cross section of other listeners joined them.
More than anything else, the London Fog job provided them with the opportunity to play together steadily, experiment with their songs, and to develop as a working group. Jim Morrison in particular changed, progressing from a reserved stage style to his present flamboyant manner.
The Doors’ music was ardently defended by a growing segment of the Strip population, but it also just plain scared a lot of people. Eventually they were fired by the London Fog. But on the very last night of their four months at the London Fog, Ronnie Karan, the chic chick who booked talent for the Whisky aGo Go, came in to hear them.
“We were the house band at the London Fog, a pathetic little nightclub just down the street from the Whisky,” Manzarek says today. “The Whisky was mecca for us. That’s where all the big bands played. On our breaks, we’d walk down there and look in the doors and say, ‘We’re the band from down the street,’ and they’d just sort of laugh at us.”
When Ronnie Karan, the booker from the Whisky, finally caught the Doors’ act, she was impressed by Morrison’s primal stage-appeal and offered the group the house-band slot: The Doors would open for the headliners, playing two sets every night. Their very first night at the Whisky, the Doors opened for Them, culminating in both Morrisons (Van and Jim) jamming onstage to “Gloria.” Unfortunately, none of them had telephones (Morrison was then sleeping on the beach) and all they could give me was a number where John ‘sometimes’ could be reached. It took a month to contact them again, but I finally booked them into the Whiskey.” Miss Karan also helped The Doors join the Musicians’ Union, get new clothes, and organize the business side of their lives. Her tenacious insistence upon using them as more or less the Whiskey house-band, despite management objections, was the important break The Doors needed. They played second billing to everybody, including groups such as Love, Them, The Turtles, The Seeds, and the number one band in Mexico, The Loco’s. “The Loco’s were a real low point in our careers,” recalls Manzarek. “they were terrible, the kids hated them, and we were caught in the cross fire.” Exposed to a wide-ranging audience – hardened groupies to Iowa tourists – The Doors began to intensify their musical Gotterdammerung and to experiment daringly. Allegedly, the experiments often took the form of drug trips. “They all arrived stoned and started improvising at random- I don’t know what it was, but it was great!” according to one friend of the group, Morrison was so consistently high on acid during this period that he could eat sugar cubes like candy without visible effect. But, inexplicably, the music kept getting better.
At the time, the Doors had only about fifteen songs. They would throw in some James Brown and Chicago blues covers, but playing two sets a night forced the group to quite literally expand its repertoire, thus shaping the band’s sound. “Repeat and stretch,” says Manzarek. ” ‘Light My Fire’ took off into solos. ‘The End’ became the epic we know now.”
Soon the house band developed a following of its own, and the Whisky became a destination for local counterculture types. Says Manzarek, “There were these guys named Carl and Vito who had a dance troupe of gypsy freaks. They were let in for free, because they were these quintessential hippies, which was great for tourists. God knows if they were even on anything, they were so out of their minds, but they danced like crazy. And they loved ‘The End.’
“There’s a point where Morrison has a section where he can do a little improvisation, and he put his hand out to soften us down,” Manzarek says. “And for the first time, he says, ‘The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on.’ And one by one, the dancers all stopped and stared. When he said, ‘Father, I wanna kill you,’ we’d never heard this before, but I thought, ‘I know what’s coming next. Please don’t do it.’ “
Morrison, of course, did it. When he howled, “Mother, I want to fuck you!” the band, which had been softly accompanying his recitation, kicked into overdrive. As Manzarek recounts, “John [Densmore] whacked on his drums, I pounded on my organ, Robby [Krieger] made his guitar scream like a banshee, and all hell broke loose. The people began dancing madly. Everyone went into a Dionysian frenzy. It was Greek! Oedipus Rex had been exorcised right there on the Sunset Strip.”
The Doors left the stage thinking they’d killed, and they had. They had also offended Tanzini’s sense of propriety. He went backstage, asked Morrison, “How the fuck can you say that about your mother?” and fired the band on the spot. Krieger asked, “Do you want us to play through the weekend, or are we fired tonight?” Tanzini thought for a moment, then said, “Oh, right. You play through Sunday, then you’re fired.”
In the end, things worked out for the Doors. Two days earlier, the band had signed to Elektra Records: The L.A. rock scene would have new standard-bearers to lead the dancing gypsy freaks into the Summer of Love…
L.A. in the 60′s and All That Happened back then Obviously has Power Now like it did Then. Immediate Feedback from those who Remember it..I was just a Little Kid. Listening to the Music. Checking Out The Cars. The Movies. The People. The Girls. All The Crazy Events in the News. JFK. Space-The Astronauts, The Surf Scene. Drag Racing. It was a Powerful Time. It all came out in The Music. My Swinging 60′s Single Dad had a Triumph TR-3 sports car identical to the one above…he was probably in the Lighthouse grooving on the Jazz when this picture was taken for all I know…or maybe he was over in the Valley at Shelley’s Manne Hole, owned by Shelley Manne, of course. My Dad once punched out Jazz pianist Les McCann in one of these clubs, after McCann made a pass at my Mother from onstage. Decked him in the middle of the guy’s gig. My Dad was a Pretty Cool Cat .
Wish I had that Hemi Plymouth 2-Tone Station Wagon parked out front. The Ultimate SUV. Super Cool.Worth about $250. bucks back then. I Saw 50′s & Early 60′s Black Chevys jacked up with Flames down the sides, pinstriped to the max & Corvettes on Used Car lots for like $650.-700 bucks. Brand-New Hobie & Jacobs 8’6″surfboards were around $100. and gas was .23 cents a Gallon to run all those V-8′s. I wanted a Roth Rat Fink shirt so bad but my Dad wouldn’t let me buy one. My Dad had been in England in WWII in the AAF for 4 years fighting the Germans. Big Daddy & all the Chopper guys used to wear these plastic German Nazi helmets around & my Old Man didn’t think that was too cool at all. Can’t say that I blame him. So no Rat Fink shirt for me. They cost $1.50 in the mail-order Big Daddy ads in all the magazines. My allowance was .50 cents a week. I used to draw his style hot rods with the giant Slicks in back and Monster Freaks inside with a giant Blown Chevy Rat Motor in front belching flames & smoke out the back. So Cool..& I never stopped straight through school, college & straight into a Design career pura vida~for Better or Worse. Now I can make my own Roth shirts from digital scans and heat-press ‘em on shirts myself. I just made ‘em for all the kids around here for Christmas. They dug ‘em just like Big Daddy would have wanted. In my 20′ I met him one time when he worked at Knott’s Berry Farm in the Sign Shop. My buddy’s Dad was his boss. Ohmigod. Big Daddy. He pinstriped out the entire old school Knott’s sign shop, top to bottom, inside& out. Wonder if it’s still there, it should be a California State Cultural Landmark. That guy was & is still one of my Heroes. He was a lot Cooler than Tiger Woods or some NFL Football Geek, that’s for Damn Sure. A Cool Role Model. I was in awe of meeting him.
At the same time my Dad was going to the Lighthouse in Hermosa, Grooving to Chet Baker & Bud Shank West Coast Style, My Big Sister was very likely in the photo below at the same time..on the same night…She must be out there..looks just like Her Crew.
Meanwhile I was the Little Kid at home, shredding the Neighborhood on my Sting Ray, Skateboarding & Playing Baseball, Checking out the Mercury Astronauts and the X-15. But I Caught Up Later.
Go to the beach, Hermosa had the Lighthouse, a world-renowned Jazz Club.There were a lot of Music Sub- Cultures, reflecting on the California Culture..Jazz, Folk.Country/Western. All sub-cults of L.A. Go to the Valley and although the Postwar 50′s had brought housing tract subdivisions, many parts of the Valley still had a distinct rural Country Western Cowboy Vibe. It’s still like that if you look for it. These here folks went to The Palomino on Lankershim Blvd.
A venue that later in our story we will witness the Crossover of Country into Rock. California Rock, they called it.
In the 1940′s & 50′s L.A. had an emerging Jazz Scene that came to be known a West Coast, or ‘Cool Jazz’. The roots of Be-Bop, & West Coast Jazz derive from Swing Music, Country Swing, Country/Western, Black R& B, Blues, JumpN’Jive. The earliest Jazz L.A.Clubs were centered on Central Avenue in L.A., running into what is now Inglewood & Compton… the precursors of Rock.
Back Then Central Avenue was the center of the L.A. Music ‘Hood, Now instead of Bands playing Jazz from the doorways at night, we’ve got the 47 Hoovers & Crips Shootin’ it Up down there. But That is Another Story. Big-name Musicians from all over the U.S. played on Central Avenue. Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington. Be-Bop Greats Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie, and a guy named Louis Jordan, whose Jump N’Jive sound I associate most with The L.A. Central Avenue ‘sound’ These predominantly Black musicians infused Big-Time Jazz on the West Coast…
By the Way, All those punk-ass White kids you see wearing their little Faux Fedoras they got at The Mall & thinking they’re rocking it ?..well, The Brothers were rocking that Look Big Time on Central 60 years ago…
West Coast white players like Alto Saxophonist Art Pepper, Baritone great Gerry Mulligan and Trumpet player/Singer Chet Baker emerged from this predominantly Black Music Scene and it all blended into West Coast Cool Jazz ~
This was an altogether entirely Different Scene as to The Rock Scene that was happening at Gazzari’s, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Cheetah, Pandora’s Box, The Prison of Socrates, The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, The Rendezvous Ballroom on the Newport Peninsula, although the True Hipsters, then as today, were moving around & checking out all of these Sub- Scenes…
Los Angeles, with Specialty Records (Little Richard) and Imperial Records (Fats Domino) based in L.A., and records like Chris Kennner’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” making their way on that pipeline to places like East L.A., where Cannnibal & the Headhunters would make it a huge hit :
This Transition from a Black-infused roots music base, filtered through a largely L.A White interpretation, with some exceptions al Latino Estilo East L.A Locales, Set The Stage for The Sunset Blvd. Rock & Psychedelic L.A. 60′s…
The Real Rock Music Scene was Really Happening at the Whisky a Go Go & Gazzari’s on the Sunset Strip. A lot of Other Bands & Musicians were in On the Act, but Winds of Change were in the Air, and L.A was About to Experience Something that Would Change The Face of Rock Forever..
Even though I was a Little Kid growing up in L.A in the 60′s, I had a Big Sister. She was 10 years older than me, a High-School Cheerleader, and one of the Most Popular Girls in School. My sister Nancy was Hip, & Pretty. (She still is). I grew up seeing all the Dance shows on T.V., like American Bandstand, Shindig & Hullaballoo. American Bandstand was the oldest one, filmed in New York with Dick Clark. Shindig & Hullaballoo were spinoffs and were filmed in L.A. So, I got firsthand, in-house Dance Lessons in the Living Room from my Sis, and all the Action in the background on T.V. I learned the Frug, The Jerk, The Twist & The Mashed Potato from her. My sister could do the Jerk Quite Well. A lot of this Action took place before the British Invasion..that is, before bands like Herman’s Hermits (they preceded …) The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who a bit later, and so on. So between 1960, when I was really small, going forward, I got an education.
It all started with really innocuous Folk Music from the Eisenhower Beatnik 50′s. People like Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary, even Early Bob Dylan, & Joan Baez were pure White Folkies. My sister listened to this crap on her record player, and The Folkies played The Troubador, The C/W artists played the Palomino Club in the Valley. Those places really didn’t become Pop venues until the very late 60′s, early 70′s. The Folkies set the stage for a whole genre of Pop Music later in California. American Bandstand had some cool East Coast acts and R&B people like Chubby Checker – “C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Twist”! Chubby taught the whole World How to Do the Twist on that show, White People could Do the Twist, even JFK & Jackie were Doin’ It. There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way To Do It. I saw James Brown on that show, Ike & Tina. Then The Supremes were on The Ed Sullivan Show from New York. Ed Sullivan was ‘The Reeelly Biigg Shewww’, which was how it sounded when he said it. Elvis had been on there. That Show was a Big Deal. I thought the Black Artists were Cool right from the start. They could Dance, man, they were Hip. This is all way before Motown. Watch Diana Ross from that time…Michael Jackson grew up watching her too, my same age. Watching Diana Ross back then is the Catalyst for Michael Jackson. He Stole All her Moves…I had a Big Crush on Diana Ross. She was Fine. I was 7.
L.A. Pop Radio was all AM then… KRLA & KHJ were the Cool Stations. The Coolest songs sounded the best cranked up through the crappy little speakers in Car Radios. Everybody had Cool Cars Back Then..Cool American Ones with Big Back Seats for Makin’ Out at the Drive-In with KRLA Blasting. So This was the Environment into which the L.A.Music Scene was Born. Personally, I was Making the Scene at the Drive-In in my Pajamas & Chuck Taylors. There was a playground going in front of the movie screen before it got dark. And Rock was Blasting while I shredded on the Swing Set. I was listening.
My Sister was like 17, and she was going to the L.A.Clubs. One you never read or hear about now, but was one of the Hip Clubs in L.A. back then was the Cinnamon Cinder. And Gazzari’s, and of course The Whisky a Go Go…where do Go Go Girls come from..? The Whisky. There you GoGo…
The Folkies played The Troubador, The C/W artists played the Palomino Club in the Valley. But those places really didn’t become Pop venues until the very late 60′s, early 70′s, more on those later…
Pop Music got harder sounding, edgier. Less horns & arrangements, leftover from the Big Band Sounds of the 30′s and 40′s. Rock was really taking hold. Kids were starting to Hang Out in front of the Clubs on Sunset. The Scene was Heating Up.
The Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip was founded by Elmer Valentine, Phil Tanzini, Shelly Davis, and attorney Theodore Flier in January 1964. Though the club was billed as a discothèque, suggesting that it offered only recorded music, the Whisky a Go Go opened with a live band led by Johnny Rivers and a short-skirted female DJ Rhonda Lane ,spinning records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage. When, in July 1965, the DJ danced during Rivers’ set, the audience thought it was part of the act and the concept of Go-Go dancers in cages was born. The Whisky a Go Go was one of the places which popularized the Go-Go dancing. Elmer Valentine, in a 2006 Vanity Fair article, recalled arranging to have a female DJ play records between Rivers’ sets so patrons could continue dancing. But because there wasn’t enough room on the floor for a DJ booth, he had a glass-walled booth mounted high above the floor.
Around this time the British invasion began. With them came Jangling guitar riffs and Vox organs, for me the signature early British Rock sound. The earliest and one of the best British bands I remember hearing pre-Beatles, pre-Stones and the rest was Eric Burdon & The Animals. Their sound would seriously influence another band to come a year or so later, in 1966. They were a lot Dirtier & Nastier than the Beatles, a la the Stones.. more L.A. Sounding. More my Style.
In true L.A.Fashion-Musical Styles were merging, White Folk sounds with East-Coast generated Black R &B, and the British Invasion brought White Rockers like the Animals & Rolling Stones, Van Morrison & Them, emulating a Blues Sound from the Animals & The Rolling Stones. Blues bands were some of the first to play the Burgeoning L.A.Club scene around this time..and soon THE L.A. Band of the Era would emerge…L.A’s own The DOORS, were about to hit the Scene, but in my opinion The Doors were not the most original and by far not the best…
L.A. now had White Blues & Folk artists – some American, some British, some East Coast Black R&B artists like Otis Redding. Two other New distinct genres of Rock entered the L.A. Scene in the form of 2 new artists. Nearby The Sunset Strip, in a rural community in the Hills of Laurel Canyon passing between Hollywood & the San Fernando Valley, a group of musicians were singing, playing & songwriting in a distinct Folk, yet edgier Electric Rock sound, unique to California.
The second artist – from Britain, emerged on the scene. His name was Donovan Leitch, or known as Donovan. His music would have far-reaching effects on California & American Rock Music, the roots of Glam Rock.
Also a group of Rock musicians from the Bay Area and a place called Fillmore West were making their way South to L.A.
More to come…