Freak Out Hot Spots!

Freak Out Hot Spots

FZ, Los Angeles Free Press, November 11, 1966

OUT FRONT, the newcomer to Freakdom must know that in this rapidly changing scene "hot action" locations can cool off instantly (especially under police pressure) and places that once were HAPPENING became parking lots or hardware stores or whatever you can dream of that's worse.

A lot of the places marked on this map were, at one time or anoher, relatively groovy in terms of atmosphere, clientele and vibrations, and are included just so you can cruise by and observe what's left after the AMERICANS get through with them. As for the rest of the places, they are an integral part of the Los Angeles Freak scene now (but check again in fifteen minutes to make sure.

Frank Zappa for the M.O.I. and the U.M.O.L.A.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#1 The Cinematheque 16 still happens on a psychedelic level with rare and interesting films from the Great Underground Located at 8815-1/2 Sunset Bl. (657-6815)

 

The Trip

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#2 The Trip used to be the center of the Freak Scene See it now: 8572 Sunset Blvd.

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

The next site of note is an empty lot across the street from the ersatz mid-century greasy spoon Mel's Diner, formerly the genuine mid-century greasy spoon Ben Frank's. "That's where I had the Trip," says Valentine. The Trip was a tiny but chic rock club Valentine opened in 1965 in the space vacated by the Crescendo, a jazz club; one of its gimmicks, devised by Valentine's music-mogul buddy Lou Adler, was that the names of the current Billboard Top 10 singles were displayed on its façade.

Corry342, "The Trip, West Hollywood, CA 1965-1966," Rock Prosopography 101, September 17, 2009

The Trip in West Hollywood opened up in April 1965 at 8572 West Sunset Boulevard (at Londonderry Place). It was on the site of The Crescendo, a jazz club that had closed because its owner (Gene Norman) wanted to focus on record production. The Trip was owned by Elmer Valentine and his partners, who also owned the nearby Whisky A Go Go (8901 Sunset at Clark).

Corry342, "Whisky A Go Go, Sunnyvale, CA Summer 1965-January 1966," Rock Prosopography 101, January 26, 2010

In April 1965, however, [Elmer] Valentine opened another club in West Hollywood called The Trip (at 8572 West Sunset). The Trip was oriented towards a younger clientele, and the featured acts changed with some regularity. The name acts at The Trip were a bigger attraction than The Trip itself. Over time, it appears that Valentine adopted The Trip's booking policy for The Whisky, and by mid-1966 The Trip had closed and The Whisky featured new name acts each week, sometimes every few days.

Alison Martino, "The Trip On Sunset Strip," Vintage Los Angeles, February 18, 2011

In 1965 Valentine and partners opened "The Trip" at 8572 Sunset Boulevard right next to the towering Playboy Club building. The Trip was located in the former popular '60's jazz club called the Crescendo. There was a comedy club upstairs called the Interlude. The Trip was short lived (Oct 1966-May 1967) however there was quite a music scene going on here.

 

Ben Franks

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#3 Ben Franks used to be the place to go after the dancing stopped. The atomic blast denotes a bust (overall) by the L.A. heat. 8585 Sunset Blvd. (phone 655-7410)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

The ersatz mid-century greasy spoon Mel's Diner, formerly the genuine mid-century greasy spoon Ben Frank's.

Corry342, "Whisky A Go Go, Sunnyvale, CA Summer 1965-January 1966," Rock Prosopography 101, January 26, 2010

The Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood opened on January 11, 1964. Initially, its entertainment was designed on the Las Vegas model, open with live music 7 nights a week, generally featuring the same band. Initially the club featured Johnny Rivers, whose countryified rock made him a huge star by 1965. Rivers played the Whisky for all of 1964, and some of 1965. Other bands played too, but Rivers was the featured attraction.

[...] As West Coast music exploded from 1966 onwards, the Whisky was well positioned to book legendary bands on their way up [...]. The Whisky had live music 7 nights a week, and only paid bands Union Scale (headliner or opening act), but it was such a prestige gig that every rising band wanted to play there.

[...] In April 1965, the Whisky partnership (led by Valentine) opened a branch of the Whisky A Go Go in San Francisco, at 568 Sacramento. [...] Over the years, there have been a variety of vague stories about Whisky A Go Go clubs in Atlanta, Denver, Minnesota and Washington, DC about which only snippets are known. [...] There was a Sunnyvale Whisky A Go Go, that opened shortly after the San Francisco outpost.

Whisky à Go-Go

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#4 Whisky a Go-Go still happens every night with top Pop Music Acts (and occasionally, lesser known fill-in groups like us). Yay, gang! Lotsa fun! 8901 Sunset Blvd. (phone 652-4204)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

[Elmer] Valentine opened the Whisky à Go Go in January of 1964. Johnny Rivers, later famous for the song "Secret Agent Man," was the headliner. The club was an instant smash, a cultural trendsetter from the outset; we have Valentine to thank for introducing the terms "à go go," "go-go girl," and "go-go cage" into our vernacular, and, more significantly, for helping launch the careers of some of the best rock 'n' roll bands ever. "Once the Whisky started to happen, then Sunset Boulevard started to happen," says Lou Adler. "L.A. started to happen, as far as the music business—it blew up."

[...] "It was an amazing time," says Gail Zappa, who met her future husband, Frank, when she was 21 and working as Valentine's secretary. [...] Valentine was the scene's unlikely paterfamilias—an ex-cop and jazz aficionado from Chicago who was already past 40. "Back then, we really believed in 'Don't trust anyone over 30,' but Elmer was different," says Cher. "He was the one older person we trusted."

[...] In 1963 [Valentine] traveled to Europe with the intent of opening a club in one of the cities there and beginning a new life as an expatriate. But while he was in Paris, he happened to visit a discotheque that was called the Whisky à Go Go. "They had these kids, young people, dancing like you wouldn't believe," he says. "So I came back to Los Angeles, and I wanted to open a discotheque. I wanted that badly. 'Cause I saw what was happening—the frenzy and the people and the lines." Valentine had made $55,000 by selling his share in P.J.'s. He re-invested $20,000 of this money in the refurbishment of a failing club whose lease he'd taken over, a place at the corner of Sunset and Clark called the Party, in an old Bank of America building. The club's new name was nicked straight from Paris: the Whisky à Go Go.

[Lou] Adler advised Valentine to sign [Johnny] Rivers to a one-year contract as the Whisky's marquee act. Rivers agreed, the deal being that he'd play three sets a night, with a drummer and a bassist. Between sets, the audience would dance to records spun by a D.J.—but not just any D.J.: a girl D.J., suspended high above the audience in a glass-walled cage. This faintly ridiculous idea was Valentine's pragmatic response to the room's space limitations: the Whisky was not a big club, and the only way he could fit the D.J. booth was to mount it on a metal support beam that ran alongside the performing area. Making the most of the situation's public-relations potential, Valentine asked one of his early partners in the Whisky, a P.R. man named Shelly Davis, to run a public contest for the new girl-D.J. position.

But on the very night of the Whisky's opening, January 15, 1964, the contest winner called Valentine in tears, explaining that her disapproving mother wouldn't let her take the job. So Valentine pressed his reluctant cigarette girl, a young woman named Patty Brockhurst, into action. "She had on a slit skirt, and we put her up there," he says. "So she's up there playing the records. She's a young girl, so while she's playing 'em, all of a sudden she starts dancing to 'em! It was a dream. It worked." Thus, out of calamity and serendipity, was born the go-go girl. Valentine acted fast to formalize the position, installing two more cages and hiring two more girl dancers, one of whom, Joanie Labine, designed the official go-go-girl costume of fringed dress and white boots.

[...] The novelty of rock 'n' roll on the Strip, plus the added novelty of the girls, attracted national media attention and Hollywood stars.

[...] When the very first Byrds single, their famously jangly version of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," went to No. 1 in May of 1965, it ratified the notion of the Strip as a progressive music scene, and the notion of folk-rock hippiedom as a way of life. "From '64 into '65, the focus shifted from Johnny Rivers east to Ciro's—on us," says Hillman.

[...] The Strip became a magnet for all sorts of budding hippies, runaway teens, and oddballs without portfolio [...]. With all things hippie and freaky taking hold on the Strip, Valentine, with the plugged-in [Lou] Adler serving as his informal musical adviser, began booking more outré acts after Rivers's residency ended—starting with the Young Rascals, followed by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, who even played luncheon dates (wearing derbies for some reason).

[...] Valentine turned a blind eye to the dealers selling acid in the parking lot behind the club, while the Whisky's new manager, an old Chicago acquaintance of Valentine's named Mario Maglieri, kindheartedly looked after the mongrel kids who now littered the club's doorstep, offering them friendly (if unheeded) anti-drug lectures and free bowls of soup. The Whisky reasserted its dominance. Not only did Valentine get prestigious U.K. acts like the Who, the Animals, the Kinks, and Them, he also instituted a policy of showcasing local bands in support slots and on the off nights when big-name acts weren't available. The roster of bands who played in the Whisky's "house band" slot—among them Love, Buffalo Springfield, and the Doors—is a testament to the wealth of great young talent milling around Los Angeles in the mid-1960s.

[...] The same [1966] summer of the Doors' residency, the police and the local merchants on Sunset Boulevard grew increasingly alarmed by the throngs of young folk on the Strip. The NO CRUISING ZONE policy took effect, and Sheriff Peter Pitchess's force bore down on the clubs, enforcing curfews and rounding up kids into paddy wagons. ("'Vagrancy'—that's what everybody got busted for," says Gail Zappa.) [...]

More consequentially, the Whisky's dance license was revoked by the city of Los Angeles. "Because they felt if the kids couldn't dance they wouldn't come in. It's like cutting my legs off," says Valentine. He successfully sued to get his license back, and counterpunched with a scheme of his own. As Gail Zappa tells it, "Elmer decided, 'O.K., I'm only gonna book black acts.' Which, by the way, were extremely popular. But overnight the Strip was black. The merchants really got nervous then. And Elmer thought it was a great joke."

[...] Even with the old in-crowd staying away, the Whisky lost little of its luster in the late 60s, remaining the premier venue for any band passing through Los Angeles—Valentine recalls with particular fondness Led Zeppelin's 1969 engagement, "five straight nights with Alice Cooper as the opening act." But as the decade turned and rock spread to ballrooms, arenas, and stadiums, the Whisky did begin to struggle. And when Valentine changed strategy in the early 70s, briefly turning the club into a legit theater and cabaret, the glorious heyday of L.A. pop was emphatically over.

[...] The place is still there and still turns a profit, and has enjoyed two significant renaissances as a scene nexus since its original run: first in the late 70s, when L.A. punk blossomed with such bands as X, the Germs, the Dils, the Weirdos, and Black Flag, and then in the 80s, when spandex metal took hold with Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses. Today, the Whisky is in the hands of Maglieri and his son Mikeal, to whom Valentine sold out just a year ago, as did Adler, who'd bought into the club in 1978. Valentine and Adler still own the Roxy, a larger club farther west on the Strip that they opened in 1973; and Valentine and Maglieri, despite a falling-out, are still partners (along with Adler) in the Rainbow Bar & Grill, the dark, beery-smelling rock 'n' roll pub up the block from the Roxy.

 

Gazzarri's

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#5 Gazzarri's still happens on a hard rock custom pompadour sport coat level. Don't miss it at 9039 W. Sunset Blvd. (phone 273-6606)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

Gazzarri's (now the Key Club)

 

The Troubadour

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#6 The Troubadour gives you not only folk music, but folk-rock music, rock music itself, and other hybrids, all IN CONCERT. Stunning in its concept at 9083 Santa Monica Blvd. (phone 276-6168)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

At the Ash Grove on Third Street and the Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard, young folkies were able to bask in mutual admiration and earn better money than they did in, say, Greenwich Village.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#7 West L.A. Sheriff's Station nestled in the heart of the outskirts of the fringe of where everything is happening, this moral arsenal provides shelter and sanctuary for that proud and magnificent beast we call THE WEST L.A. SHERIFF'S DEPUTY/servant & protector OR, more commonly, THE MAN. See the hapless trustees in their stencilled shirts washing HIS cars. Hear bold Aryan operatives rave about long hair freakos and the last John Birch meeting at 720 N. San Vincente Blvd. (phone . . . only as a last resort if you have long hair or a beard 652-3525)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#8 Barney's Beanery is still there. It is a matter of opinion whether it is still (or ever was) HAPPENING. Fun to visit: 8447 W. Santa Monica Blvd. (phone 654-9240)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#9 The Chez which used to be The Action which was the first place we worked when we emerged from the sticks and came to Hollywood is now High Class. A must: 8265 Santa Monica Blvd. (phone 656-3576)

 

P.J.'s

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#10 P.J.'s is now, as it was, and always (most likely but I'll check it out for you a coupla times) will be, the greatest place in town to see Trini Lopez in action. Located at 8151 W. Santa Monica Blvd. (phone 656-8000)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

Valentine, meanwhile, was running a restaurant-nightclub at the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica called P.J.'s. Named in homage to P. J. Clarke's, the New York pub, it was more a lounge-act kind of place than a folk club, but it gained a measure of national fame thanks to the quasi-folkie Trini Lopez, whose 1963 live album, Trini Lopez at P.J.'s, featured a hit cover of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer."

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#11 The Sea Witch is one of the teenie-bopper (no offense, gang) IN SPOTS, featuring the new local bands in performance of psychedelic music b/w Cokes and Coffee. . . . 8514 Sunset Blvd. (phone 652-9160)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#12 FRED C. DOBBS Memorial Shrine . . . it used to be the best place to go to meet friends and dig the juke box until the heat blew it for us . . . or was it that bunch of outside idiots that started hanging around towards the end there, unable to maintain their coolness? The ruins are located at 8537 Sunset Blvd.

 

It's Boss

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#13 IT'S BOSS is teenie-bopper heaven. You only have to be 15 to get in. Located at 8433 Sunset Blvd. (phone 654-9900)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

Up on the right comes the Comedy Store, formerly Ciro's, the crown jewel of the Strip's glorious 1940s champagne-in-a-bucket epoch. Valentine explains that Ciro's reconstituted itself as a hip 60s rock club just long enough to launch the Byrds, but, unable to secure a liquor license, morphed into a short-lived teenybop haven with the risible name It's Boss.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#14 Nikki's Too is a day-time spot with an outdoor thing where you can ingest surprisingly good hamburgers in the company of a lot of really creepy people who sit there next to you while you're eating and hope that somebody driving by owes them money so they can scream and yell at them and make a scene so the people walking by will notice that they're sitting there and how groovy their sunglasses are . . . 8355 Sunset Blvd. (phone 656-9244)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#15 The Colonial West Model is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. My views, however, were not shares by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sammy Davis Jr., or any of the other 18 million hippies who have made this their place to crash over the past few years. Conveniently located next to Nikki's Too at 8351 Sunset Blvd. (phone for reservations 656-4120)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#16 The Stripcombers is HAPPENING for black leather jackets and motorcycle boots if that is your bag. Keen fun at 8301 Sunset Blvd. (for pertinent information phone the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station)

 

Fifth Estate

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#17 The Fifth Estate is one of those places that refuses to quit . . . even after a whole series of scenes with the heat, bravely situated at 8226 Sunset Blvd. (phone 656-7673)

Alice Stuart, "Musicians Speak Out," Jimmy Carl Black Official Site

I'd like to tell you the strange story of how Frank and I met. We had come into this coffee house in Hollywood, separately, called the 5th Estate, I think. We were both in there for a couple of hours and we were the only people in there. Finally, he introduced himself and asked me why I was hanging around so long. I told him I was there to meet a friend, Steve Mann (a fabulous guitar player). Well, it turns out that's why HE was there, too. We got to talking and waited another hour or so, and finally gave up on Steve.

 

Pandora's Box

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#18 PANDORA'S BOX is another teenie-bop underground stronghold . . . a defiant little island at the top of the strip with a picket fence around it and cops and ingenue freakos and lots of atmosphere, but tiny. Try sitting at Frascati's across the street and watching the heat surround the place while the kids scramble for cover. Keen fun. Located at 8118 Sunset Blvd. (phone 656-9192)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

"That island," [Elmer Valentine] says, motioning to a blank triangle of land marooned in the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights, "was where they had a little club called Pandora's Box. The kids used to spill out into the road so you couldn't move. You couldn't fucking move! Kids 10-deep on the sidewalk, into the road! That's where the riots started. You heard of the riots on Sunset Strip?"

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#19 GEE GEE'S was a scene until it was mysteriously forced out of business. It is, at this moment, for rent . . . 8100 Sunset Blvd., next to Schwab's drug store, across the street from Ah Fong's and Greenblatts Deli.

 

The Ash Grove

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#20 The Ash Grove features ETHNIC ETHNICAL ETHNOCENTRIC Folque Musique . . . I remember when Bud & Travis used to work there and Ed Pearl used to do Ethnopolitical Greasing for the newly founded cabaret at the Idyllwild Folk Freak Sanctuary in 1958, Before Hal Zeiger invented the HOOTENANNY. Check it out at 8162 Melrose Ave. (phone 653-2070)

David Kamp, "Live At The Whisky," Vanity Fair, September 4, 2006

At the Ash Grove on Third Street and the Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard, young folkies were able to bask in mutual admiration and earn better money than they did in, say, Greenwich Village.

Bob Zappa with Bob Stannard, Frankie & Bobby: Growing Up Zappa, 2015, p. 189-190

By now, Frank hated Lancaster as much, if not more, than I did. [...] We began taking trips down to L.A. with guys from the band. Neither Frank nor I had a driver's license or access to a car so we'd go with Terry Wimberly or the Carters and Johnny Franklin.

We went to the folk music clubs on Melrose Boulevard; the most famous was the Ash Grove.

Ed Pearl ran the Ash Grove and it was where blues legends Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, and folk singers Odetta and Pete Seeger played.

[...] One Saturday night after Brownie and Sonny's set, Frank went up and introduced himself.

 

Vito's Studio

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#21 VITO'S STUDIO & store & cult HQ & sanctuary & genetic laboratory which is REALLY THE PLACE TO SEE is located at 303 N. Laurel (the bomb blasts tells us that the status quo agents have made it known that they are checking Vito out)

 

Canter's

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#22 CANTERS Fairfax Restaurant is THE TOP FREAKO WATERING HOLE AND SOCIAL HQ, scene of more blatant Gestapo practices than the peaceful natives care to recollect, it is a good place to go as soon as you arrive in town. If a black bus (or two) pulls up in front and you see your fellows, brethren and kinfolk being loaded into them (as if it were off to Auschwitz), do not flip out. Do something constructive: something positive . . . unfortunately, I'm not allowed to offer any suggestions, except to say, perhaps, that the silverware is cheap and easy to replace. You may cautiosuly approach it at 419 N. Fairfax (safer to phone 651-2030) Canters is across the street from the Kazoo (See #69)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#23 The Blue Grotto coffee house used to be nice and quiet until it got busted in the middle of the night. Meet and talk with the survivors at 1010 N. Fairfax.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#24 CARL'S HOUSE is where Carl lives. It wouldn't be right to give EVERYBODY the address . . . he would never get any sleep, poor fella.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#25 SITE OF A GIGANTIC & FESTIVE BUST wherein much brutality and authoritarian B.S. was perpetrated with the result that all parties involved served a lot of DEAD TIME (time before trial) and got acquitted (causing them great physical and mental discomfort & status loss).

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#26 TTG RECORDING STUDIOS where we cut our album.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#27 THE BRAVE NEW WORLD is a very IN sort of late-teen Freak spot. Visit 1644 N. Cherokee, near M'Goos on Hollywood Blvd.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#28 The Omnibus is a coffee house next door to the WILD THING at 1835 Cahuenga (phone 462-0473)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#29 The Red Velvet is HQ for the plastic & pompadour set with lotsa hard rock & blue-eyed soul to TURN YOU ON, BABY. Located at 6507 Sunset Blvd. (466-0861)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#30 BIDO LIDO'S (formerly Cosmo Alley, one of our beloved manager's old coffee houses) is another underground teen-freako hot spot that launched the group LOVE "into orbit in the top pop hit charts with many smash numbers" (some of them performed on their employers). The Bido Lido's ain't quite the same . . . but still sort of happening & atmospheric at 1608 N. Cosmo St.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#31 The Haunted House is fulla go-go & snappy ensembles & hair-dos & a genuine fire-breathing bandstand. Must be seen to be believed at 6315 Hollywood Blvd.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#32 The Hollywood Ranch Market never closes and is a good place to see some REAL FREAKS. 1248 N. Vine (phone 464-0156)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#33 The Hollywood Police Station, a masterpiece of Etruscan architecture in the heart of primitive Hollywood.

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#34 WILD THING is a dance place I never been to yet which is next door to the Omnibus on Cahuenga near Yucca, which has featured such groups as The West Coast Experimental Pop Art Band, The Knack and The Eastside Kids (who, I am led to believe, are funky).

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#35 THE TROPICANA MOTEL is groupies' paradise . . . that's where most of the touring groups who play the Whisky a Go-Go stay when they hit town, as well as many members of active local groups like The Doors and The Byrds. Located at 8585 Santa Monica Blvd. (phone 652-5720)

 

Freak Out Hot Spots!

#69 (by request) THE LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS OFFICE, cognoscenti HQ, beacon of truth, champion of teen & otherwise justice, nice people, and more at 5903 Melrose Avenue. You would be wise to subscribe immediately upon arrival to town or you will never really know what's going on . . . socially or politically. THEY ALSO SELL BOOKS, MAGAZINES, BUMPERSTICKERS & BUTTONS THAT WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH & HAVE STATUS at 424-1/2 Fairfax, across from Canter's, #22. Behold the enclosed subscription blank.

 

Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/
This page updated: 2017-11-19