LOS ANGELES… LISTEN: THE MUSIC.
L.A. has had so much to offer through out my life, from my single days and even more now that I’m married. In my three part series of why I love Los Angeles, I start with “The Music”.
L.A. for me, is the true home of Music.
Let’s look at just the famed Sunset Strip and it‘s days of legend in the 60‘s, 70‘s and especially the 80‘s up until present day. The 60’s & 70‘s, I mean come on, The Doors, oh, and a few others paid their dues and made their rise there. Led Zeppelin, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Velvet Underground, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Frank Zappa to name only a handful. Then the 80’s hit, my days, an atom bomb of hair spray & make-up… Motley Crue, Guns ‘N Roses, Poison, Warrant, Ratt, Dokken, Lynch Mob, L.A. Guns, Great White, Faster Pussycat, Bullet Boys, Nelson and another awesome hundred or so.
Why did I say “my days”? Well I was one of those all glammed up aspiring rockers on the Sunset Strip. A talented singer, and darn pretty if I may say so myself, lol. Especially with my hair down to my tushie and inundated with Aqua Net. I thought I was going to be the next famous front-man of the 80’s. Which is also why I mentioned my single days. Although I didn’t become famous on MTV (coming from a half hour down the 405 freeway by the beach, little ol’ El Segundo aka Mayberry of the West Coast), my days on the Strip with the ladies, you might of thought I had already had a few Gold LP’s. It was a very special time, in a very special place, like no other area in all the world. Sure, places around the Globe had their scene. New York and London with Punk, New Orleans with Jazz, Nashville and Memphis with the Blues and so on. But what the 1980’s and the Sunset Strip did, seemed to make it’s mark over any other decade there, let alone anywhere on the planet.
Speaking of the 80’s, New Wave & Alternative had just as much to offer here then. Oingo Boingo, Go-Go’s, Bangles, Berlin, Missing Persons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Knack, Motels, Sparks, Weird Al Yankovic, Fishbone, Josie Cotton, Untouchables, Wall Of Voodoo, X, Plimsouls and so many more. We had the advantage of the World Famous KROQ 106.7 FM, a radio station that exploded in LA and was known around the nation, especially with brand new DJ Richard Blade, fresh from the UK and took those bands playing the strip, turned them and other bands into house hold names. Yes, before I was rock, I was New Wave. Getting into all the under-age clubs, learning about life in many ways, gave me that spark. So, just a few years later, it really hit, a time which was to become one of the greatest times of my life, just before my hair grew out and I was trying to be the next big rocker, fresh out of high school, I landed a dream gig for a short time… tour photographer for Oingo Boingo. That was when I got my first real taste of live music, fresh off the boat out of a small town even for being in L.A. and single & naïve.
You want another first of mine and the explosive LA music scene in the 80‘s? Punk rock !!! WOW. I got a small taste of it, unreal, but glad I could check it out with it’s roots growing. Slam Dancing !!! The kids these days have been calling it “moshing”. Ummm, nooo, it was slam dancing way before. I would like to see half the people at a rock show that get in a mosh pit, survive a slam dance circle in the 80’s with real punk rockers. Let’s just say, when I was 16, 6’ tall and 125 lbs, not a good combination to get caught in one. But the punk music of the time, that was something else. Thanks to the World Famous KROQ once again, this time it came from a man with a quirky, little voice, Rodney Bingenheimer and his show, Rodney On The Roq. It made hard core punk seem ok for us young New Wave teens to check out, and we did. Bands like The Germs, Agent Orange, Dickies, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear, Angry Samoans and so many more.
Speaking of where I grew up in L.A., the beach, and it’s influence to music. Especially the South Bay, my home town area. Can you say The Beach Boys ?!? There never was, nor ever will be a band that solely burst a style of music on the map as they did for beach music. Oh, and a few others here too, like… Dick Dale, Jan & Dean, The Chantays & more.
What’s another style of music Los Angeles is famous for? Though it’s a genre not to my personal liking, Hip-Hop. Well I better rephrase that… West Coast Hip-Hip. Yes, New York gets the credit for most of it’s origins, but many great legends popped up from here. Ice T, Easy E, Too Short, Egyptian Lover, World Class Wreckin’ Cru which spawned N.W.A. and Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur and too many I care to remember, lol.
Although some of the bands mentioned above weren’t all locally born or bred, though most were, Los Angeles, and especially the Sunset Strip was the “proving ground” for most. There had always been a “bar” set, that if you could make it on the the Strip, make it in LA… HOLLYWOOD, you could make it anywhere. Music, so settle down New York with my “make it anywhere” reference.
One more style of music, if you call it that, is the Jam Band. Of course musicians jamming has been going on for decades, and most places worldwide. That said, let’s face it, more musicians live here in L.A. Than any other place in on the globe. Because of that, there have always been more opportunities for artists to get together to “jam” for audiences than any where else. Sometimes it’s been an intimate & spontaneous show, other times it’s been on a large scale. Either way, we are so fortunate to see some of the greats play, in ways no other area gets too.
It wasn’t and still isn’t just the music, but the places all these acts have and still play. I challenge ANY city to have so many different venues, truly notable names, that are known around the world. The music venues, of yesterday & today, some gone and some still here… Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go, Roxy, Filthy McNasty’s then Central now Viper Room, Troubadour, Coconut Teaszer, London Fog, Madam Wong’s, Pandora’s Box, English Disco, Gazarri’s then Keyclub, Rainbow Bar & Grill, Palladium, Mint, Club Lingerie, Gig, Palace now Avalon, House Of Blues, Wiltern, Dragonfly and that list goes on. So much history then and still to be made where music is played live.
Almost every one of these places, at least those which were open while I was able to go to, I have not just memories with, but life experiences… and I know that I’m far from the only one to. I could literally write a story of every venue and club I just listed that was around during my era, from starting out in music until now. Maybe one day I should. Because as I said, each one of them played not only a part in my life, but millions of others. From the first band we’ve seen, the first stage we were actually on, the people we met, the times we will never forget, and many times we still barely remember. I have my personal favorites, maybe more of a reason to write about each one, but I’ll save them for later. If you’ve been to them you have your memories to, if you haven’t, well you’ve heard of these places and the endless tales.
One more note, as I mentioned a bit about my single days and the impact the L.A. Music scene had on me, I have to also mention the impact it’s had since being married. Because music has such a blood flow to its entity, here in the City Of Angels, the amount of it going on is endless. Meaning, there are not only more bands here trying to make their mark, there’s just as many forming to do so. There will always be a demand for places to see these bands, from large to small, and that in turn gives fans of music, including my wife & I, opportunities to always enjoy a great show. You can bet if a large, world tour is going on for a band, it will stop here in L.A. Concerts have held a special place for us. From some of our first dates, till rare nights off for us now, some of our greatest memories have been attending a show here. Thank you for that Los Angeles !!!
In conclusion, for me, L.A. is flat out, the music scene of the nation, historically, weather you agree or not, it IS to me. No other city can boast the past we’ve had here. Music set the path for me in life. Everything I’ve done along the way that led me here at this very moment as I write this blog is because of Los Angeles and it’s music scene, then & now. It’s one of the many reasons I’ve called Los Angeles my home… proudly.