This is where I can put my random thoughts down before the for complete stories. So do not think of this more than just a place to put stuff to jog my memory into full events or stories about my years in Rock 'N Roll.
I was fortunate enough and stubborn or stupid and cool enough to be a part of that great era. From an early age I remember putting string pull cords on my bedroom curtains so I could pull them from one side and they would open just like the theater. Then I would take my bicycle light apart and take the glass out then turn the reflector around and put it all back together so I would project a nice sharp edged circle of light onto the curtains... just like the spotlights at the theater.
From an early time I was fascinated with the entertainment industry and wanted desperately to be a part of that world. I was in a band when I was in school, I played bass guitar. Which my mother helped by for me so I could be in the band. I was terrible, I wouldn't practice enough to be any good. The rhythm guitar player was a snotty kid who's father owned the local pub. His dad would let us rehearsed in the garage and sometimes he and I world play the bar on a Friday or Saturday night. He knew all the old music hall sing-along songs from an era gone past. It was the most scary thing I had ever done, in front of all those people. But we got through it, somehow and the people applauded. I started to realize that I was not suited to being in front of the spotlight but behind it. And I did know I liked the music!
I worked for Sundance Lighting touring lighting company based in Hollywood on the old Columbia Lot off Sunset Blvd. Jim Moody was the owner and I thought my good friend. The company lasted throughout the 70's into the early 80's when Jim sold it to some of his workers, who managed to burry it in a short time.
Jim was also a very good lighting designer, most of his accounts were what we called "MOR" (middle of the road) musically. Such as Captain & Tennille, John Denver, The Carpenters, Linda Ronstadt, etc.
My accounts were mostly heavy Rock bands such as Golden Earing, Electric Light Orchestra, Bay City Rollers, ZZ Top, my token MOR act was Seals & Crofts which I worked for outside of Sundance but bought them in to provide equipment. Other lighting directors that worked for Sundance was Joe Esposito who's major client was Jackson Browne.
The office manager took great pride in busting my nuts for some reason or another. On my final tour with Sundance was very disappointing as when I got back to the warehouse I found my toolbox/road case broken into and all my belongings gone, tools, color gel samples, swatch books, everything it had been wiped out. I asked them what happened and they just told me that they decided that all the tools and gel was theirs and told me to take my case a get lost. I reported the "theft" to the police who of course did nothing. That was the last tour I did with Sundance and they moved to Chatsworth and was not long before Jim was gone and the company folded.
US Visa Declined/Married Twice
During this period of working for Sundance Lighting I was struck with a big blow from the INS. They declined to extend my work visa and gave me 14 days to pack-up and get out of the country. No end of arguing or discussion would budge their minds. I immediately went back to the Jim's office to talk to him about the situation. We called the companies lawyer who advised to hire an immigration lawyer, and gave me a name and number. Within an hour I had hired an immigration lawyer and a possible solution to my dilemma.
Jim stuck his head out the window and shouted out asking all the girls if anyone would marry Phill to keep him in the country? One answered YES! It was Joe's long time girlfriend. After a long conversation with the lawyer the next morning we flew to Las Vegas, grabbed a cab to an instant marriage shop, for the want of a better name. we were married then jumped back into the same cab for a trip back to the airport. I flew on to Connecticut to start a Frank Zappa tour and she flew back to LA. The lawyer did his thing and I was now safe to stay in the country. Less than a year later I was on another tour and was introduced to who was to become my wife, Boo (Barbara) from Somerville, Boston, Mass. The lawyer again did his thing and got the first marriage annulled and I was free to marry Boo.
Boo was a cute 5ft nothing 98lb bundle of cuddles, she had a great figure and we had a good thing going. Of course being on the road I managed to screw this good thing up. I was having an affair with one of the back-ground singers with Donna Summer. There was another side to our break up though. In the mid to late 70's doctors were spouting that if women waited till past their late 20's to have children that the children would be deformed or mentally inhibited. Not true at all but Boo believed it, and we had a long conversation about it and she wanted 3 kids and my argument on delaying having children was based on being raised without a father being around and how much it had my changed life, and not for the better.
After a very short divorce period (45 days uncontested) in December of 1979 we were divorced. We made it quicker by sitting down and writing up a complete list of every item we owned and listed them as to become mine or hers. We even put colored dots, I think they were red and green dots. We also sold our house in Woodland Hills, Ca. and paid off all our credit cards and debts. Boo filed for irreconcilable differences which I di not contest. With all the preparation the courts could not find any reason to delay the process and it was done in 45 days. That would never happen in todays "Me" society!
After a stint of living in Santa Monica by the beach, Boo went back to Boston and from what I heard she was happily married the guy I stole her away from and yes she had 3 children by him. I am happy for her and regret screwing up a good thing, but I am not sure how I cold have got around the children thing, still like the freedom of no children. I am the biggest kid you will find and in a lot of ways still living for the moment and not good at planning ahead.
The Whiskey A-Go-Go (Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)
This is one of those historical places that every true rocker should visit and pray in front of the stage to honor all those who have passed before you.
I actually worked here for a year or so as stage manager and house sound engineer. in 1980-1981 when it closed for a few years. It has now re-opened and is in full force as a venue for up and coming bands from all over the world.
It owes its name to the first discothèque, the Whisky à Go-Go, established in Paris in 1947 by Paul Pacine.
The Sunset Strip Whisky was founded by Elmer Valentine, Phil Tanzini, Shelly Davis, and attorney Theodore Flier and opened on January 16, 1964. In 1972, Valentine, Lou Adler, Mario Maglieri and others started the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip. In 1966, Valentine, Adler and others founded The Roxy Theatre. Lou Adler bought into the Whisky in the late 1970s. Valentine sold his interest in the Whisky a Go Go in the 1990s but retained an ownership in the Rainbow Bar & Grill and the Roxy Theatre until his death in December 2008.
Although 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 DJ Rhonda Lane, spinning records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage.
Rivers rode the Whisky-born go-go craze to national fame with records recorded partly Live at the Whisky. In addition, The Miracles recorded the song "Going to a Go-Go" in 1966 (which was covered in 1982 by The Rolling Stones, and Whisky a Go Go franchises sprang up all over the country. Arguably, the rock and roll scene in Los Angeles was born when the Whisky started operation; because of its status as an historic music landmark, the venue was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Whisky played an important role in many musical careers, especially for bands based in Southern California. The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield, Smokestack Lightning, and Love were regulars, and The Doors were the house band for a while – until the debut of the "Oedipal section" of "The End" got them fired. Van Morrison's band Them had a two-week residency in June 1966, with The Doors as the opening act. On the last night they all jammed together on "Gloria". Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention got their record contract based on a performance at the Whisky. The Turtles performed there when their newest (and biggest-selling) single "Happy Together" was becoming a hit, only to lose their new bassist, Chip Douglas (who had arranged the song), to The Monkees; guitarist Michael Nesmith invited him to become their producer (he returned to the Turtles a year later, to produce them). Neil Diamond also played at the Whisky on occasion. Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was recruited by the band after they watched him play a show there.
Arthur Lee of Love immortalized the Whisky in the song "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale". "Here they always play my songs," he would sing on the side two opener of Forever Changes. The Whisky was located on the strip between the streets Clark and Hilldale. British rockers Status Quo also referenced the venue in their 1978 song "Long Legged Linda" with the lines, "Well, if you're ever in Los Angeles and you've got time to spare / Take a stroll up Sunset Boulevard, you'll find the Whisky there."
In 1966, the Whisky was one of the centers of what fans call the Sunset Strip police riots. In the mid-1970s, the Whisky hosted stage presentations, including the long-running show The Cycle Sluts. During the early 1990s, the Whisky hosted a number of Seattle-based musicians who would be a part of the grunge movement, including Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Melvins, Fitz of Depression and 7 Year Bitch. Johnny Elvis Foster, who was based in Los Angeles, also performed at the club multiple times in 1991 and 1992, and tracks recorded from a February 12, 1992 concert appear on their EP, Ask For It (1995). In 1997, System of a Down played at the Whisky. The band were unsigned at the time, and played songs from their early demo tapes, in particular containing the band's only live performance of the song "Blue".
Gazzarrie's (Sunset Blvd., Hollywood)
Gazzarri's was a nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It is most notable as the location where The Doors and Van Halen were featured house bands for long stretches before being discovered. It was also the LA club featured in Huey Lewis and the News MTV video for their hit "The Heart of Rock and Roll."
The club reached its peak of popularity in the late 1960s, featuring Jim Morrison's young new group, along with other talent such as ? and the Mysterians, The Bobby Fuller Four, Buffalo Springfield, and The Walker Brothers. It then achieved major LA relevance again in the late 70's, featuring the David Lee Roth-led Van Halen nightly for months on end, and then into the 1980s through the early 90's as one of the top LA glam metal nightclubs. It was owned and operated by the "Godfather of Rock and Roll", Bill Gazzarri. Gazzarri himself was known for dressing up as a Chicago-style gangster and frequenting the club on performance nights. Located near the corner of Doheny and Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, and just several dozen yards from both the Rainbow Bar and Grill and The Roxy Theatre, Gazzarri's became famous as a launching pad for future rock and roll stars.
Along with The Roxy Theatre, The Whisky a Go Go, The Troubadour, The Starwood, and other nearby nightclubs, it was a staple of the Los Angeles music scene in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and early 90's. Some other bands that played at Gazzarri's either prior to or during their mainstream success include Johnny Rivers, Question Mark and the Mysterians, The Go-Go's, Tina Turner, Southgang, Sonny and Cher, Ratt, Cinderella, Chicano rock band Renegade, punk band X, Victor Flamingo, Quiet Riot, Stryper, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Guns N' Roses, Warrant, Faster Pussycat, and Canadian rockers Hollywood Trash. Other notable local Los Angeles area bands to play there included Redd Kross, Brunette, Page 3, Taz, Tuff, Foxx, Storyteller, James Bond, Reinkus Tide, D'Molls, Cold Shot, LEGACY, TRAMP and Pretty Boy Floyd, and bands that never made it like Odin, managed by Bill Gazzari himself, and featured in The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, bands such as Salute, Shocktop, and Broken Cherry. Many giant hand-painted pictures of these bands adorned the side of the club's outside wall for many years.
The 90 yard stretch of sidewalk on Sunset Boulevard that runs from the front steps of Gazzarri's (now The Key Club, 9039 West Sunset Blvd), to the parking lot between the Rainbow Bar and Grill (9015 West Sunset Blvd) and The Roxy Theatre (9009 West Sunset Blvd), was the national center of the 1980s glam metal movement that spawned dozens of MTV bands and radio hits. Aspiring bands and musicians from around the world, coming to Los Angeles to make it big, eventually found themselves on this small stretch of sidewalk passing out their flyers, watching the competition in the clubs, or enjoying the scene packed with thousands of other musicians, famous rock stars, porn stars, groupies, and Los Angeles teenagers.
The nightclub also "moonlighted" variously over the years a stage-dance venue, and Gazzarri's would often combine the strip-club-like dancing of attractive, young girls in between live band performances. The "Miss Gazzarri's Dancers" over the years included future Playboy Playmate and Hugh Hefner girlfriend Barbi Benton, and future television star Catherine "Daisy Duke" Bach. The club became a favorite hangout for teen dancers who loved live music, which was not lost on the neighboring television studios. Gazzarri's was acknowledged by TV executives as the real-life inspiration for music-based TV shows such as Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, The Monkees, and The Partridge Family.
The Rainbow Bar & Grill (Sunset Blvd., Hollywood)
The bottom level of the building is the restaurant, The Rainbow Bar and Grill. Upstairs is an exclusive club called "Over the Rainbow", which consists of a full bar, dance floor, and a DJ booth. The restaurant is next to The Roxy Theatre and Gazzarrie's.
The restaurant was founded in early 1972 by Elmer Valentine, Lou Adler, Mario Maglieri and others, opening on April 16, 1972 with a party for Elton John. At the time, the word "rainbow" signified peace and freedom. It quickly became known as a hangout for celebrities of all types. John Belushi ate his last meal at table #16. For many years, the owner was Mario Maglieri.
The Rainbow became known as a hangout for rock musicians and their groupies. Notable regulars at the Rainbow in this period include Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Grace Slick, Neil Diamond,Robert Plant, Tony Iommi, Lemmy Kilmister, Ronnie James Dio, Lizzy Valentine and many others. Elvis Presley was known to have occasionally visited the Rainbow. The famous group of musicians calling themselves the Hollywood Vampires made the Rainbow their home away from home in the mid-1970s.
Los Angeles songwriter Warren Zevon referenced the scene at the Rainbow in the last verse of his 1976 song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me."
The musical group Rainbow was named after this club.
The track "Rainbow Bar & Grill" from the Cheech & Chong album Let's Make a New Dope Deal takes place in the bar and restaurant.
The Roxy (Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)
The Roxy was opened on September 23, 1973, by Elmer Valentine and Lou Adler, along with original partners David Geffen, Elliot Roberts and Peter Asher. They took over the building previously occupied by a strip club owned by Chuck Landis called the Largo. (Adler was also responsible for bringing the stage play The Rocky Horror Show to the United States, and it opened its first American run at The Roxy Theatre in 1974, before it was made into the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show the next year.)
Neil Young and his band The Santa Monica Flyers played the Roxy for the first week it was open. Only three months later, the original Genesis lineup with Peter Gabriel played several consecutive days at the Roxy, a run that some band members and many fans consider to be amongst their finest performances (due partially to the intimate atmosphere and good acoustics of the venue, as well as the legendary reputation of "Hollywood" amongst performers around the world).
Paul Reubens, then a struggling comedian, introduced his Pee-wee Herman character in a raunchy revue here in 1981 that included other aspiring comics including Phil Hartman and Elayne Boosler.
The small On the Rox bar above the club has hosted a wide variety of debauchery in its history. The bar was a regular hangout for John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper and Keith Moon during Lennon's "lost weekend" in 1973-74 and hosted parties arranged by Heidi Fleiss in the 1980s.
Local Venues (circa 1974-1980)...
- Another of our local venues that would regularly have acts come into town on tour that did not have and sound or lighting. We would provide the promoter with a small system of 2 or 3 towers that each had 12 PAR 64 1,000 watt lights on each tree. The tree was a hydraulic lift that was powered by compressed air and would be raised about 15ft in the air. The system could by transported in a flat bed 14ft truck (remember we are in Southern California where the Sun always shines), setup, and run by one person.
- For trade shows, the Civic Auditorium features 11,775 sq ft (1,093.9 m2), while the stage adds 4,485 sq ft (416.7 m2) more space, for a total of 16,260 sq ft (1,511 m2). The East Wing meeting room adds an additional 4,200 sq ft (390 m2), while the main lobby features 6,708 sq ft (623.2 m2).
- The main hall of the Civic is adaptable for not only trade shows, but also sporting events, concerts, meetings, awards shows and other events. As a concert venue it can seat 3,000, as a banquet hall 720 in tables, and as a sports arena it can seat up to 2,500. The most widely touted innovation was the auditorium's main floor, which in a matter of seconds could be tilted by a hydraulic mechanism to form raked seating for theatrical productions or a flat surface for dancing or exhibits. The main floor of the auditorium can thus be raised or lowered to create a raked floor for theatre seating or a level floor for exhibits.
- The Palomino (Country & Western Club - North Hollywood)
- It opened in 1949 and was the best-known country music club in Los Angeles for decades, closing in 1995. It was called "Country Music's most important West Coast club" by the Los Angeles Times and named national Club of the Year by "Performance" touring talent trade magazine. It featured such performers as Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Delaney Bramlett, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Johnny Carver, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hoyt Axton, Tanya Tucker, and Willie Nelson, and was also a popular hangout for other country entertainers such as Merle Haggard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis played there at least once a year from 1957 to 1987. Elvis Presley at least once strolled in unheralded and took in a set.
1950s and 1960s
Originally a "rather tough beer bar," the Palomino, located at 6907 Lankershim Boulevard, was founded by Western swing bandleader Hank Penny and his business partner Amand Gautier, had originally opened the club around 1949-50 as the Palomino. Penny even staged "jazz nights" there where West Coast jazz musicians could come to jam. It was leased in 1952 by Bill and Tom Thomas of Indiana, who later bought the club. The club received a further boost in 1959 when the major country music showcase Riverside Rancho in the Silver Lake neighborhood shut down, leaving the various performers it had hosted available for the Palomino. In the early 1970s, the club could seat 400 attendees.
The Palomino Club was notable because in addition to being the San Fernando Valley’s premiere night club, it was a neighborhood working class bar (opening at 6am with a happy hour from 8am to 10am!) The Palomino Club bar stayed open during afternoon sound checks so regular customers and the artists’ fans could see the bands preparing and rehearsing the evening’s show for free. Often the artists’ showed appreciation for the fans by performing impromptu mini-concerts to standing ovations. The Palomino’s dressing rooms and backstage areas were generally open to the public. Fans could ask if the artists were receiving visitors and most artists welcomed them, gladly signing autographs, etc. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, almost every notable country and western artist played there, but in the early ‘70s, The Palomino started letting the longhaired rock ‘n’ rollers on stage.
- Doug Weston's Troubadour (Hollywood)
- The History of the club and its importance in music history. If there wasn't a Troubadour there wouldn't be...
- The Troubadour was known as a song-writers club. A lot of careers were launched by playing their songs at this infamous club.
- Doug Weston (c.1926/27 – February 14, 1999) was an American nightclub owner. He established and owned The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California, USA, which in the 1960s and 1970s was particularly responsible for promoting many successful singer-songwriters in the early stages of their careers.
- A charismatic impresario, 6'6" tall with long hair and known for his eccentric dress sense, Weston became known for the agreements he made with new artistes, which stipulated that, after they became famous, they would return to the club to perform at their original fee. According to Hilburn:
"At first, the pop world bowed to Weston's contract provisions because of the room's proven power. But industry figures finally rebelled against the demands and his increasingly eccentric behavior, the latter due to heavy use of alcohol and drugs."
In later years, Weston was no longer involved in running the club, but retained co-ownership. He died from pneumonia in a Los Angeles hospital on February 14, 1999, aged about 72. A memorial was held at the Troubadour with performances and dedications from famous musicians as a tribute to him for his role in the success in so many musicians' careers.
- Weston founded the club as a coffee house on La Cienega Boulevard in 1957. It moved to its current location at 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood in 1961, and has remained open continuously ever since. The Troubadour played an important role in the careers of Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, The Byrds, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Buffalo Springfield and other prominent and successful performers, whose early performances at the club helped establish their future fame. Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn said that Weston was "arguably the godfather of the Southern California singer-songwriter movement in the late '60s and early '70s".
- Universal Amphitheater - Hollywood
- Opens 1971 (as a stunt theater)
Universal City, L. A.
Owned by MCA Inc. which owns Universal Studios
5,200 capacity 1973 (farthest seat only 140 feet from the stage)
6,252 capacity 1980
Today it is know as the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Citywalk
Check this site for a list of artists
that we probably provided the lighting and crew for during the mid 70's until they put the roof over it - sorry that was the downfall of a wonderful venue to me.