This is the beginning of a roughly 8 part series documenting my participation in one of the greatest musical scenes of all time, namely Los Angeles 1976-1980. This first part will document pre-1977 and will be much less detailed than the remaining sections. I got the brilliant idea on January 1, 1977 to start writing down every show I went to, who played, where it was held and how much I paid to get in. I think you will find it a fascinating tour down memory lane and perhaps add a slightly different perspective to the renditions you have already read about this scene.
The story would be incomplete without introducing one of L.A. punks all time most prolific gig attendees who adopted the name Steve Stiph early on. Steve and I have known each other since kindergarten, were roommates when we moved out and have been steadfast friends ever since. This story is both of ours because we shared these experiences together.
We started going to shows together in 1975 and saw many of our big name favorites of the time such as Kiss, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and ZZ Top. You have to understand that there was no punk at the time and our ears were tuned in to hard guitar rock. I had spent a year in Europe in 1972-1973 so I had come to know such bands as Slade, Status Quo and the Sweet.
In 1976, the first non-arena, small club show we went to see was Slade at the Starwood. The opening band was the Hollywood Stars, a hard rock band from Hollywood at the time. What an eye opening experience to be 5 feet away from the band and have this unimaginably loud music blasting your ears! Arena concerts were few and far between after that.
In July of '76 I heard this band called the Ramones on the radio and rushed out to get their album. This was the best of both worlds! Loud, guitar driven music with 60's beats. I grew up on the Beatles and these guys had Beatle-esque melodies with Status Quo type driving guitars. Steve and I saw the two sets of the Ramones at the Starwood in mid-August and our world changed forever. 20 minutes of solid sonic bliss with each song separated by Dee Dee's 1-2-3-4!! Holy crap, what a rush!
Soon thereafter, we heard a song called "John Rock" on KROQ, the local radio station that featured Rodney Bingenheimer's "Rodney on the ROQ" show. Rodney was the first to really give the punk and other underground music it's own forum every Sunday night. That's where we later were introduced to the punk acts of the day as he brought in more and more records.
It turns out that Rodney used to have a place called Rodney's English Disco where he would play acts such as Slade and other English acts such as David Bowie before they became household names in the states. As it turns out, KROQ had opened their own place styled after Rodney's disco and Rodney was more often than not the DJ for the shows. KROQ announced that the Dogs were playing this venue called the KROQ Cabaret and they just happened to be the band that played that great song "John Rock".
The remainder of '76 was spent going to shows at the Cabaret most weekends seeing a mixture of bands that you would never find today featuring the likes of the Dogs, Berlin Brats, Van Halen, Zolar X, Quiet Riot, Motels, Wolfgang (later hair band Autograph) and the Pop. We liked many of the bands at the time because there was no differentiation between what was a punk band and what was a metal band. That all developed in 1977.