Sixties Music Secrets

  ” In L.A. You Know Where That’s At “….

Written on November 23, 2017   By   in Do You Want to Know a Secret?

When history considers the “L.A.” or “West Coast” sounds of  Southern California in the 1960’s, we tend to turn our attention to a relatively small yet incredibly prolific and powerful grouping of Artists and Musicians. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and the various other writers, artists and producers, that made up the music community referred to as “Surf Music” and perhaps more importantly the Artists that made up “The Laurel Canyon Mafia” ( details to which you can read about here at SMS )…However, as disparate and diverse these ground breaking pioneers may have been,Their music and the “Sound of L.A.” was too often critically described as “Mellow” “Laid Back” “Heady” and “Harmonic” Not necessarily bad words, however, we’re here  to look at what was going on in the streets and clubs of L.A. while Brian and his brothers were catching the wave and Joni, Graham, David and Cass were setting up house in Laurel Canyon….. Ten minutes East of Pacific Coast Hwy. and at the Southern most tip of Laurel Canyon Blvd. You are there! The whisky au, go, go” the London Fog” The Trip” and “Pandora’s Box”….A little further east and there’s “The Sea Witch” ” Bido Lito’s” and The tremendous “Hullabaloo Club” The Sunset Strip was home to an energized, vital and fertile Bar and Club scene. BUT ! The music coming out of these clubs in the mid 60’s was anything but “Mellow” or “Laid back” Quite the contrary, I spent my  summer of 1966 hanging, hopping, and living in these clubs with the Artists and music they housed. Meanwhile, in your consideration of the bands we’ll focus on, keep in mind that on any given night in the summer of ’66 nearly all these bands were appearing, frequently at the same club on the same bill !

Do you remember “Love” with Arthur Lee? perhaps no other L.A. Band maintained and reflected the musical and cultural diversity of  the city it called home, quite like “Love” did.  Remember their breakthrough single, “My Little Red Book”?  Of course you do, but did you know it was written by “easy listening” oldsters Burt Bacharach and Hal David ?  who some of you may claim would be the purveyors of “Laid Back” and “Mellow” BUT NO, not after Arthur Lee and “Love” got hold of it, turning it into a brain pounding, eighth note driven rhythm and melody that thumped thru your mind long after the record ended. Additionally, Arthur’s vocals have been compared to Otis Redding and even Johnny Mantis. But on “Little Red Book” to me, he simply sounded scary. And live at The London Fog club on Sunset….HE WAS !

“Love” went on to sign with Jac Holzman’s Electra records ( The first band to sign with the label ) As a credit to “Loves’ creativity and Electra’s commitment “Love” recorded and released their first three albums in only 18 months, perhaps you own one…”Love”…….”Da Capo” and what critics call their masterpiece “Forever Changes”…

Have you heard them? You need to!

However, it could be argued that the greatest contribution that Arthur Lee made to Electra records was when he convinced Jac Holzman ( Electra’s founder and CEO ) to make a visit to The Whysky au go, go and hear his friends band. His friend was Jim Morrison! Holzman was so impressed with Jim and The Doors, he offered them a deal on the spot. You know the rest of the story. ” In L.A. You know Where That’s At”

Yes !…Jim Morrison and The Doors, no doubt, your favorite from L.A. back then and without question the most successful and notorious!  and no other band worked harder. They were the house band at The whisky, The London Fog and The Galaxy clubs, as well as regulars at Pandora’s Box, Bido Lito’s and The Hullabaloo club with its revolving stage and perception altering Strobe light production. On a really good night, you could catch The Doors early show at The Hullabaloo club, then hitch hike west on Sunset 2-3 miles back to The whisky and catch them closing for The Seeds or The Music Machine  just prior to last call. Even in those early days there were no questions regarding Morrison and sobriety and it is an unfortunate truth that my friends and I would rush to a late Doors show, just to see how annihilated Jim could get….But, he, along with the best drummer, John Densmore, Guitar player, Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzereck in L.A, would always “tear down the house”  The Doors were neither “Mellow” or “Laid back”The Doors were young, the band was incredibly TIGHT  and they were writing great songs……Did you know, by the way, that “Light My Fire” was written by guitarist  Robbie Krieger, not keyboardist Ray Manzerick, and it was the first song Krieger ever wrote….”In L.a. You know where That’s At”

The Seeds played everywhere, all the time. Do you remember The Seeds led by Sky Saxon? perennial Wannabe’s ! They worked hard and put on a very loud raucous show. But they just never took  first position on any club stage. No one went out into the warm Hollywood summer night to SEE THE SEEDS, nope, they were there, but as the opening act. Sky’s voice was nasal, a bit whiney and the band was unremarkable, except for Keyboard player Daryl Hooper. He brought a sense of style and fashion to an otherwise drab outfit with hair to his mid back and knee-high boots “Quite the Dandy” actually. It should be noted that The Seeds were the first band to not include a Bass player in their live show. Daryl provided the bass parts by playing them on the keyboard. This is something that Ray Manzereck and the Doors got a lot of attention for doing. But it was Daryl Hooper in The Seeds that did it first.  The Seeds struggled to break beyond just L.A. notoriety, but you may remember a title or two. Do you recall “I can’t seem to make you mine” ? The band and their label, Crescendo, believed in it so much they released it twice…..But, do you remember it? I’ll bet you don’t. The Seeds actually appeared and performed it on two popular T.V. Shows

“The Mothers in Law” and The Patty Duke Show, you still don’t recall it, do ya ? Furthermore those T.V. Appearances added to the bands lack of credibility. Crescendo released two more tracks Mr. Farmer” and “You’re Pushin To Hard” The latter being the one song you may remember. It received a fair amount of national attention. But The Seeds still couldn’t break thru the  second place or opening act position in  the So. Calif. music scene. They have been referred to as Ground Zero for garage rock and Proto Punk. Unfortunately for Sky Saxon and The Seeds, even that generous comment just isn’t true.

However, just down the street, we would stand mesmerized watching a  L.A. Band that had the diversity of “Love” the darkness of The Doors and raw attitude of The Seeds……..The Music Machine. Do you recall them? I’m certain you recall and loved their third single and mega hit “Talk Talk” a mere one minute and fifty-six seconds of runaway energy, drum breaks and “fuzz” bass, all delivered by lead singer/ songwriter  and founder Sean Bonniwell “Talk Talk” was sonically irresistible, and at 1:56 no disc jockey could avoid playing it. But it was the bands relentless live shows where Bonniwells vision of a Music Machine was realized. The band entirely dressed in Black, hair dyed Black and wearing one Black glove, the look and image was dark, imposing and even, yes, Surrey. However, to truly drive the point home, The Music Machine’s standard set ran One hour and ten minutes, NON STOP! That’s right Bonniwell wrote short segues to string all their songs together. No space, irrelevant banter or even a breath between songs….Just non stop, aggressive Rock, ripping your ears off and completely void of “mellow and “Laid back”. One night, at the Hullabaloo club, some joker from a rival band cut the power on the band in the middle of their set. What followed was incredible, in front of 800 dazed fans…. In silence Sean moved to the edge of the stage, proclaims “Nothing can stop a Music Machine and singularly hurls out a searing a capella performance of “Talk Talks”  b-side ” Come on In”……One dark voice, under one dim spot, but as the old saying goes “There wasn’t a dry seat in the house” my friends and I held on as Sean Bonniwell brought the house down at The Hullabaloo Club….”In L.A. You Know Where That’s At”

Meanwhile, it’s time now to hitch down the street catch “Spirit”at Bido Lito’s and back to The Hullabaloo to see the closing set from “The Palace Guard”…Check out “Talk Talk”

 

 

Didja ever see them? Wereya ever there?

( SMS just hasta know )

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 comments on “” In L.A. You Know Where That’s At “….

  1. Jimmy says:

    Hey Rick, you really painted a beautiful portrait with this one. Bravo! Enjoyed revisiting this special time in LA music history. Kind of missed this part of the experience being on the east coast, however in 1975 I did make my way to Cali and in 78 found myself working at Sun Bee Market (right across the street from The Whisky) While I didn’t get to see many of the acts who performed there, I do remember Arthur Lee coming into the store from time to time (my co-worker Stan told me who he was). I think he lived around the corner on Larrabee St. A COOL CAT to be sure. Another guy who came in was Larry “Wild Man” Fischer. I liked that guy a lot, a sweet man who was quite a character. He had “The Pep” made me laugh. I had some good moments, fond memories on Sunset Strip back in the late 70’s…thanks for your post, my friend.

    1. Rick says:

      Jimmy, thanx for your kind words! However, YOU worked at The Sun Bee Market on Sunset Blvd. That makes you a celebrity in my book. I can only imagine the strange and wonderful things and people you encountered. Thanx for reminding us all about Larry “Wild Man” Fischer…A crazy, ubiquitous mainstay of the Sunset Strip scene. I believe he worked with Frank Zappa and released at least one album. Meanwhile I think we’re all dying to know what you mean when you say “Wild Man ” had “The Pep”
      Hmmmm?
      Thanx Jimmy for being a part of and raising the level of conversation….
      P.S. If you have any further Sun Bee stories, we’re all ears…
      Rick

  2. Jimmy says:

    BTW, The Music Machine video is a GASSSSSS! Is that from “Where The Action Is” As in, “Oh baby come on, let me take you where the action is…” Loved that show.

    1. Rick says:

      Hey Jimmy, Yes, I agree, The Music Machine Vid is classic. They were, for my money Thee best band in L.A back in the 60’s. In fact, my band The Spydres actually opened for them during an L.A. Club tour in ’66 They cleaned our clock every night. And yes, that clip is from Dick Clarks “Where The Action is”
      I, probably, like you, used to race home from school everyday, so I could get in front of the T.V. By 3:30 and not miss a minute of “Action”
      By the way, Freddie Canon performed the catchy theme you recounted….
      Thanx Jimmy

  3. Jimmy says:

    Hey Rick, There’s a GREAT documentary, from a few years back, on Larry “Wild Man” Fischer that anyone interested in his story can check out:

    http://www.derailroaded.com/

    I believe it can be seen on Hulu as well. What I mean by “The Pep” is what Larry described about his “Highs” and “Lows” as he suffered from bi-polar along with schizophrenia. When he was up he was UP! The documentary goes into this aspect of his life as well as his collaboration (and falling out with Frank Zappa). I highly recommend this film to get a glimpse into the soul and talent of an ARTIST who never quite received his props. He is missed…here’s a little something (from the Zappa produced album) to help brighten your day. Enjoy:

  4. Rick says:

    Hey Jimmy, this is such great fun remembering Larry “Wild Man” Fischer…..I can remember times when he would just walk up to me, stare over my head, mumble something and walk away!
    Meanwhile, I did listen to the track you posted. I gotta say I was quite surprized at how well Larry sang. He has a refinement to his voice, as if, he had taken voice lessons? You know what I mean? And did you notice that the only other instruments on the track were percussion sounds?…..impressive!
    Anyway, thanx for Kick Starting the conversation this week by sharing your awesome memories and experiences and of course re-introducing Larry “Wild Man” Fischer!
    Rick

  5. Jimmy says:

    My pleasure.

    So COOL that you had the “Wild Man” experience on The Strip. He really was a character, an original. Yeah, “Merry Go-Round” is such a happy, little trip of a tune. LOVE the percussion, gotta be Zappa.

    One more little bit of trivia is how Larry created the song”Go to Rhino Records” which was at the forefront of Rhino Records opening on Westwood Blvd. “Derailroaded” doc covers this aspect quite nicely. The only thing I was able to find online was this tasty sample:

    http://www.madmusic.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=1042

    “…you can get Herb Alpert and Jackie Lomax for forty cents…” LOVE IT.

    Listen real close and it’s like Larry is channeling old time western character actor, Andy Devine!

  6. Rick says:

    Jimmy…..Now, that’s more like it. That track sounds like “Wild Man Fischer” Yes, kinda like Andy Devine ( after a few Beers) But I’m with you, I Love It…..You and Wild Man, made my afternoon in L.A. You know where that’s at!
    Rick

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