Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Los Angeles is a city that holds different charms for different people. Maybe you’re a film buff, eager to walk Hollywood Boulevard or scope out some of the sites where some of the most beloved movies of all-time were filmed. Maybe you’re more of a beach bum, eager to stroll the Oceanfront Walk on Venice Beach and hit the boardwalk in Santa Monica. Perhaps you’re a foodie with a whole list of established and up-and-coming restaurants you’re dying to check out. There’s almost no limit to what you can do.
As for me, a [proud] music history nerd, whenever I find myself in the LA area, an inordinate amount of my time is spent catching shows at some of the city’s iconic venues, hitting a few of the renowned recording studios dotted around Hollywood and beyond, or having a drink at one of any bars, restaurants and hotels where so many famed musicians made mischief back in the day.
Whether you’re a native Angelo, or perhaps planning a trip to visit SoCal in the near future, here are a handful of places to check out that played pretty significant roles in the storied history of rock and roll.
3900 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood
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The Forum in Inglewood, California. One of the most historic venues in the world. Led Zeppelin rocked this joint 16 times in their career, and it's been a dream of mine for pretty much my entire adult life to see a concert here. Tonight it's finally going to happen. Just got a guided backstage tour and I'm freaking out right now.
Practically everyone who’s anyone has played the Forum out in Inglewood. Erected in 1968, the venue began making rock history from almost the minute it opened its doors for the first time. Cream recorded some of their final album Goodbye in this hallowed facility that year. Led Zeppelin played here 16 different times in their career, including a famous gig on June 21, 1977 that was recorded by a bootlegger named Mike Millard and released on the black market under the moniker Listen To This Eddie. Other prominent Zeppelin boots Live On Blueberry Hill and For Badgeholders Only were also captured here. Across the span of decades, the Forum became a choice location for some of the biggest names in music to come, play and roll the tapes. The list of amazing, official live albums produced in it’s hallowed halls includes Kiss’s Alive II, Parliament’s Live, and Before The Flood by Bob Dylan and The Band. I recently caught Eric Clapton here a few weeks back and can definitively call it the best-sounding arena space I’ve ever been to.
Sunset Sound Recorders
6650 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
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It is actually staggering the number of genre-defining rock records that were either mixed or recorded in this nondescript building just off of Sunset Blvd. I’m just going to go ahead a list a few of them. The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Prince’s Purple Rain, The Doors’s self-titled debut, The Beach Boys’ immortal Pet Sounds, Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album, Van Halen’s first five albums, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, and on and on, and on. It still operates to this day. When I went a couple of weeks back, all three of its studios were booked up by prominent artists working on their next big projects.
Canyon Country Store
2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles
“There’s this store where the creatures meet,” Jim Morrison sang on the Doors track “Love Street.” “I wonder what they do in there.” My best guess is the same thing they’ve been doing for the past 60 years and more; buying candy, cigarettes, sandwiches and nice, cool beverages to battle back against the pervasive California heat. Set in Laurel Canyon, this groovy bodega served as the de facto meet-up spot for some of the biggest names in L.A.’s singer-songwriter scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carole King, The Byrds, The Mamas And The Papas, The Doors, all regularly frequented this joint on the regular. David Bowie was known to pop in every now and again to pick up a Cadbury chocolate bar. Despite its historic significance, it still plays host to some pretty big names in the musical world and regular neighborhood-dwellers alike. Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, met his eventual wife at the Canyon Store a few years back and wrote a pretty amazing song about it.
Andaz West Hollywood
8401 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
It’s called Andaz West Hollywood today, but back in the ’70s it was officially known as the Continental Hyatt House. Those who stayed there, however, had a different name for it: The Riot House. Room 1015 carries the distinction of housing Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who decided to do a bit of redecorating back in the day and chucked his television out the window. On the upper floor, Robert Plant gazed out at Hollywood laid out at his feet below and proclaimed from the balcony, “I am a Golden God!” Lemmy wrote “Motorhead” here. Little Richard lived in Room 319 for a decade. Jim Morrison dangled from one of the balconies by his fingertips. And those are just the stories that we know about. The mind boggles at what took place here after the lights went out.