Lou Adler and The Roxy: 50 Years on the Sunset Strip

by admin  1st Oct 2023 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Roxy and its enduring relevance, the Grammy Museum announced a new exhibit, The Roxy: 50 Years On The Sunset Strip, which explores the club’s origins and rich musical history. The exhibit opened on September 15, 2023 and will run through January 7, 2024.

“The Roxy and the Sunset Strip are deeply embedded in music history, and 50 years later, the Roxy continues to be a club where music’s most exciting moments still take place,” said Jasen Emmons, Chief Curator and VP of Curatorial Affairs at the Grammy Museum. “This exhibit highlights Lou Adler and the Roxy’s ability to tap into the cultural zeitgeist and lets visitors dive into the rich world of one of the most historic and beloved locations in Los Angeles.”

[Photo opposite: Linda Ronstadt, Lowell George and friends outside The Roxy, October 18, 1973. (Photo by Henry Diltz / Courtesy Gary Strobl at the Diltz Archive)]

The origin of the Roxy can be traced to a late 1971 rude awakening Adler received at the nearby Doug Weston’s Troubadour club when Carole King was making her debut at the West Hollywood nitery. The reliable club manager Robert Marchese, was not present the night when Adler, King’s manager, and owner of Ode Records, was informed twice that his name ‘wasn’t on the list,’ and curtly dismissed by a Troubadour doorman.

Lou mentioned the incident to his friend and mentor, Elmer Valentine, founder of the Whisky A Go Go with Mario Maglieri, and they decided that the Sunset Strip needed another venue, a rock club.

“I never went to Chuck Landis’ strip club, The Largo, but certainly was aware of Candy Barr and Miss Beverly Hills being up on the marquee,” reminisced Adler in a 2008 interview I conducted with him inside his Malibu office. “The only time I went into The Largo was the day that Elmer and I looked at possibly buying it. It became the Roxy Theatre.”

On September 20, 1973, Lou Adler and Elmer Valentine, along with Peter Asher, David Geffen, Bill Graham, Chuck Landis, and Elliot Roberts as advisors, opened The Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip. Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers initiated the club with a three-night stand, playing two shows every evening, and The Roxy quickly became one of the city’s premier clubs.

On September 20-21, 2023, Neil Young returned to The Roxy to mark its 50th Anniversary. Both shows benefited charities the Painted Turtle and Bridge School. On September 24th reggae artist Stephen Marley revived the 1976 setlist by his father Bob that was issued as Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Live at the Roxy.

Adler has also curated a Live at the Roxy album that features songs recorded from the venue. Tracks by Young, Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones, Brian Wilson, George Benson, Emmylou Harris, and Warren Zevon are included in the compilation.

The Roxy: 50 Years On The Sunset Strip highlights the Los Angeles institution’s legacy through artifact displays including Roxy memorabilia from Lou Adler’s archives, an original film, and photographs.

For more information regarding ticket reservations for the exhibit, please visit www.grammymuseum.org.


Thinking of Lenny Bruce

by admin  2nd Aug 2023 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


On August 3, 1966, stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and philosopher Lenny Bruce was found dead at age 40 inside his Hollywood Hills home from an acute overdose of morphine.

He died near where I sold newspapers and distributed admission tickets to The Preview House on Sunset Boulevard at the time. It was front page headlines in Los Angeles, and many folks in the neighborhood and around town were deeply saddened.

Fifty seven years ago over 500 mourners paid their last respects at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California. Principal Eulogy was read by Phil Spector who paid for the funeral.

At least Lenny Bruce was not forgotten around Southern California after his 1966 burial. In August 1968, The Los Angeles Free Press presented a Murray Roman-hosted LennyBrucemas musical event at the Cheetah pier in Venice. Over 20,000 people attended.

Around Lenny Bruce’s freedom of speech advocacy, the lingering obscenity busts, and numerous arrests, Lenny’s bold stand-up comedy performances and public observations were not routines, but podium examples of unfiltered verbal reality coupled with reflections about race, religion and relationships. His rant on actor Bela Lugosi was always a Halloween favorite on many turntables.

During 1958-1976, my family and I would occasionally see Lenny Bruce, Sandy Baron, Mantan Moreland, Richard Pryor, Al Jarvis, Don Peake, Jan Alan Henderson, Rodney Bingenheimer, Sonny Bono, Don Randi, Nik Venet, Micky Dolenz, and many comics, actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters, movie studio heads, prostitutes, pimps, bands, and the Vine Street-based Musician Union 47 session musicians around town at the Hollywood Ranch Market and Canter’s Delicatessen. These places were open 24 hours.

Bruce was a frequent guest on black and white television shows I watched on my parent’s television set, In 1957 I saw the Teddy Bears, (Phil Spector, Marshall Lieb and Annette Kleinbard) on the local KTLA TV program Rocket to Stardom, sponsored by salesman Bob Yeakel, who used to hawk Oldsmobiles during the broadcast from his showroom. Lenny Bruce with Joe Maini, Jack Sheldon, Dennis Hopper and Jim Keltner also appeared on the show.

“In spring, 1964, I glimpsed Lenny as he was going into a theater at La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard,” recalled author/musician Jan Alan Henderson in a July 2023 interview we did. “We were going to ABC Books to buy the first books on the Beatles on the way to Le Conte Junior High in East Hollywood. My mother knew Lenny’s wife Honey as they were neighbors. My mom was a volunteer for the United Way and the Bruce household was in the district. Lenny was the one who fought for First Amendment rights.”


UNO MUNDO (It Came From East Los Angeles)

by admin  15th May 2023 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


Dedicated to Mamie Van Doren Con Art Aragon


This spring and summer at select movie theaters and on cable television’s Spectrum SportsNet, filmmaker Stephen DeBro in his sports and music documentary 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium, tells the story of Los Angeles through the distinctive voices of boxers, wrestlers, roller derby skaters and rock musicians who performed at the Olympic Auditorium. The venue opened in 1925.

In 1951, rhythm & blues concerts were held on the premises. During the 1969-1970 period, Little Richard, Frank Zappa, Mountain, Jack Bruce and Ten Years After were on the marquee. In the eighties and nineties, Public Image Ltd debuted there, and soon afterwards, monthly concerts were promoted by Gary Tovar and Goldenvoice Productions headlining Dead Kennedys, the Dickies, the Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Suicidal Tendencies, and X. Music videos for Bon Jovi, Kiss, Air Supply, Janet Jackson, and Rage Against the Machine were produced in the landmark location at the corner of 18th Street and Grand Avenue, just south of the Santa Monica Freeway in downtown L.A.

“From the beginning the Olympic was an extension of Hollywood’s back lot,” underscores DeBro. “So many great films were shot at the Olympic, starting with Buster Keaton’s Battling Butler, The Three Stooges Punch Drunks, The Manchurian Candidate, Raging Bull, the Rocky series, Million Dollar Baby, The Turning Point, Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Sting II, and in 2003, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. There were hundreds of TV shows and commercials.”

It’s now the Korean-American Glory Church of Jesus Christ.

The 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium soundtrack is by War, Shuggie Otis, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Band, Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Kennedys, the Weirdos, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Quetzal and Jungle Fire (Albert Lopez).

DeBro, author and music/culture historian, Gene Aguilera, along with LA Plaza de Cultura’s Karen Crews Hendon and Esperanza Sanchez, are serving as curators of the museum’s forthcoming August 11, 2023-May 12, 2024, 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium exhibition recounts the 80-year history (1925-2005) of the Olympic Auditorium, the home for visceral entertainment in Los Angeles with artifacts from all facets of the venue’s storied history. The exhibit will be held at La Plaza de Cultura Y Artes Museum, 501 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.

18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium reminds us about nearby East Los Angeles and adjacent Boyle Heights, east of the Los Angeles River. These two Los Angeles’ Chicano/Mexican-American communities gave us Top Forty music hitmakers, Verve Records’ founder Norman Granz, record producers and songwriters Herb Alpert, Lou Adler, H.B. Barnum, Mike Stoller, as well as musician/deejay Lionel “Chico” Sesma, Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, and Gene Aguilera.