Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Punk Rock Parking Lot Socials
I gratefully acknowledge GoGo Notes, a blog about the GoGo's past and present, for the title of and inspiration for today's post. I stumbled upon them a few weeks ago, seeing that they featured a few images from Punk Turns 30 to illustrate their thorough research and loving take on the tradition and rite of passage that is hanging out. Click their link and check them out.
The photo above is one of the end results of the "parking lot social," an ad hoc party that went where ever the revelers did.
When they first started coming to see rock n roll shows in LA from their native Newbury Park, Belinda Carlisle and Lorna Doom would spend a big chunk of their night time in the parking lot of the Rainbow Bar & Grill, which was and remains next door to the Roxy Theatre, just up the street from the Whisky A Go Go - all on the Sunset Strip. Back in those days, the mid/late 70s, there was also a club called Gazzari's, named after its owner Bill Gazzari. Gazzari's is best known for being the club where Van Halen broke out of. It was the hard rock/heavy metal club and punk rockers did not frequent it. If for some reason we wanted to see Van Halen, we could see them at the Whisky as they played there often (and our fave bands did share the bill with them - ie: Mumps, The Quick, etc.)
Lorna Doom, 1977
Hanging out in the parking lot of the Rainbow was a bonafide social event for just about everyone in a certain mind-set back then. There was the star-spotting aspect, but mostly, it was a social event. Closing time in California for bars, and therefore clubs and restaurants was and is 2 AM. The night is still young so until the after-hours clubs and the 24-hour diners started filling up, the in-between hang was the Rainbow parking lot. The Rainbow serves a good pizza and serviceable food; but it too is a social hang. Its just good times... and THE place to see and be seen. Even though I had moved to LA before the rest of my friends (from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties - the "burbs" outside of LA's burbs, otherwise known as The Valley), I wasn't indoctrinated into these parking lot parties until Belinda and Lorna turned me on to it. And then the few months when we were all roommates at the Famous Lobotomy Apartment on Franklin Ave at La Brea, well, there was much hanging in parking lots and cemeteries too.
Belinda Carlisle backstage at the Whisky with the Joneses
For all the hanging out that one does backstage, and I have photographed Belinda doing a lot of it - the streets still offered their own brand of fun.
Alley Cats bassist Dianne Chai in front of the Whisky A Go Go
The street right in front of the Whisky was a bit of a waiting room for the club. You could watch the human and motor traffic of the Sunset Strip, or have a more audible conversation with friends outside than in a room with amplified guitars. You could also spot the likes of say Malcolm McLaren and Johnny Rotten walking by...
I have Belinda Carlisle to thank for spotting them. She's pictured below, in the cat-eye glasses, hanging around outside the Whisky waiting for Mumps to take the stage. Malcolm and Rotten did in fact come in and see Mumps perform.
The record store Licorice Pizza was across the street, diagonally, from the Whisky A Go Go, and it was a great punk rock hang out. Its parking lot, "for customers only," was its own social scene, too. Perhaps the fact that Joan Jett lived across the street from that parking lot helped turn it into the al fresco portion of a typical night at Joan's place party...
Anna Statman outside front of Licorice Pizza on Sunset Blvd.
Parking in Los Angeles or any other big city is always a problem. You take a big risk of your car being towed if you park in a small lot meant for customers only and the store keepers complain... but when our friend, future A&R guru, Anna Statman, at that time a Licorice Pizza employee, was working, she'd make sure the tow trucks weren't called about your vehicle. Then you were free to join Joan and friends at her San Vicente apartment.
Of course, if Stiv Bators dropped by, there were always the obligatory goofy photos we took for Creem, like the one above that appeared in Creem with a caption reading something like: Stiv Bators irons out some things with Joan Jett and the following photo, also in Creem and Japan's Music Life showed the world Joan Jett's bedroom.
Here at Punk Turns 30, we show you Joan Jett's kitchen!
Nancy Nagler in foreground; Joan & Billy Idol talk rock n roll in the kitchen
Now, the parking lot of the Licorice Pizza store did boast its own scene and here are a few of the now-famous/notorious faces who partied there.
The Screamers are synonymous with Los Angeles punk as is the late Black Randy. Screamer Paul Roesseler is pictured here invoking the famous painting The Scream as Randy looks on. Behind them, in the background, you can detect the buzz cut blonde - Belinda Carlisle!
The raven-haired punk rock bass all star, Patricia Morrison, then in The Bags in an inadvertent portrait that very same night: