Saturday, 9 April 2011

Wednesday - Day 7 L.A.

The day broke with a cloudy sky and the prospect of a rather dull and cold day.

We got up with the alarm and had breakfast in our usual haunt, Uncle Johns, before we were due to meet Darian Sahanaja, and Nelson Bragg, both from Brian Wilson's band (but also great musicians in their own right) outside our hotel at 11am. Before we met the guys, we popped into the chemist and The Beeb found an interesting product on the shelves.....

We have NO IDEA what this is for!!!!
Anyhow, the day was brightening up as the sun broke through the clouds, and we set off with Darian and Nelson to be Beach Boys "geeks" for the day. Today we did the Hollywood and Beverly Hills haunts, and started at a small parade of shops that used to be the site of the Goldstar Studios where Phil Spector produced his "Wall Of Sound," some Beach Boy music was recorded. We moved on to the Capital Records Tower on Hollywood Blvd. This is very much an LA landmark, although apparently most of the building is now actually empty. Hope they don't tear it down.

The guys goof around with the Captial Tower backdrop

Darian, The Beeb and Nelson outside
Ocean Way studios

Next up were the recording studios on Sunset Blvd - starting with Ocean Way where Brian Wilson and his band have recorded many of the albums over the last few years.... Getting In Over My Head, The Christmas Album, Gershwin........

The old Western Studios are now EastWest Studios and Nelson blagged his way through the door. Inside it is quite impressive albeit different from the days when Brian Wilson recorded there, but we were told by the receptionist that the actual recording rooms have been unchanged.

Reception at EastWest!

Unfortunately we could not get into Western 3 where Pet Sounds was recorded, and settled for Western 1, which is the studio Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was recorded, and the mixing desk is the same one that Qunicy Jones had specifically built and installed for that recording.

In Western 1
The receptionist was really helpful and gave The Beeb a promo DVD package which charts the history of the studio and also very kindly let us pose for photos!

Nelson, The Beeb, Minty and Darian inside East West

Next up was Sunset Sound, on Cherokee - this is where Love and The Doors recorded and also Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE was born here. This is truly an iconic album among Brian Wilson fans, and it was good to hear Darian's tales of Brian taking the bumper off Princes' car!!!.

Minty and The Beeb outside Sunset Sound

Darian and Minty outside Sunset Sound

Next on the trail was a drive along Melrose Avenue and past Fairfax High which is where Phil Spector went to High School. A spot of lunch at Farmer's Market and then we headed off to see The Troubadour while the Welsh band, The School (loved by Minty) played on Darian's IPod. Nelson was really impressed by what he heard too.

Next to the Troubadour is the restaurant, Dan Tana's, where Phil Spector had eaten on that fateful night of the shooting.

The guys walk by Dan Tana's

Outside The Troubadour
Unfortunately the Troubadour was closed at this time of the day so all we could get was an outside shot. Brian Wilson apparently came to see Tony Rivers play here one time, with very funny consequences!

Heading up into the canyons, we took a trip to Laurel Way and the house Brian Wilson once owned, known to the fans as The Pet Sounds House. Security up here is tight and within a couple of minutes of us arriving, a black SUV was on site, with a guy and a walkie-talkie obviously checking us out! Nelson surreptitiously took our picture before we got chased off!!!!

Incognito at Laurel Way!!!!

Then we saw the Bellagio House - the home where Brian Wilson spent a lot of time in his bed!. This is a gated house so we couldn't get up close!

The Bellagio House
Next up was a drive up into the mountains, up Mulholland, the road many Bette Noir films were shot, and where many a car has undoubtedly gone over the edge!!! The views here are awesome and although we didn't go to the side where you get a view of downtown LA,  we got a great view of the San Fernando valley (dontcha know, more Porn is produced in this valley than in the rest of the world put together!!!).
Darian, Minty and Nelson overlooking San Fernando Valley
Our last stop on this tour was a quick stop to have a peek at the recording studio Darian and fellow Wondermint Nick Walusko have built in collaboration with their musical friends Marizane. It's coming together very nicely. It looks like it could be the Headquarters from some Gerry Anderson TV programme. To top things off, Nick even popped by to say hello whilst we were there. Even the recorded sound of the piano in the studio sounds amazing, and it will be great to hear the future CD's  that do come out of here.

It was an amazing day with Darian, Nelson and Nick. Not only did we get to see some historical places in LA, but we learned a lot about Nelson's historical drinking haunts!
Thanks guys.... we really can't thank you enough for giving up your time to be Beach Boys geeks with us!!!

Back at the hotel, we got in touch with Domenic and Becky and we spent the evening with them on the Sunset Strip. Domenic had a great book, "Riot On Sunset Strip" published a couple of years back and he is really an authority on the whole Sunset Strip era and can rattle off dates, places and names like there's no tomorrow, which is really impressive. The Strip at night is something else, with loads of lights and is a really bustling place.

Dom drove up the Strip and we saw the Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go Go, the Viper Room and infamous Chateau Marmont where James Belushi died. Dom also pointed out the site (traffic island) where Pandora's Box was located.

Dom & The Beeb at "77 Sunset Strip click, click"
We had a light dinner at Le Petit Fours (well The Beeb had a homemade pudding rather than a dinner) and then we took a walk along some of the Strip.

Whilst many of the businesses on the Strip have changed since the 60's, the architecture is basically the same. The Beeb remembers the TV programme "77 Sunset Strip" and had his picture taken with Domenic at the site the show was filmed (which is not 77 by the way - no. 77 has never actually existed!).

Mel's Drive Inn has the typical 60's architectural structure, especially in terms of the slant of the roof. A few band's were put together here too.

Mel's Diner

Next up was a trip to Canters, where we met up with Mark London, a graphic designer - he designed the "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" album cover and packaging. He had very kindly arranged for a couple of Pet Sounds CD's to be signed by none other than Brian Wilson, and he gave us these treasures. Mark is working on a new book just now, and it sounds as if it's going to be a real cracker.

Whilst we were with Mark, our jaws dropped again when we were joined by non other than Rodney Bingenheimer - The Mayor of Sunset Strip, who used to run a well known club on the Strip called English Disco. Our jaws had been pretty much on the floor since Sunday's party and spending the day with Darian & Nelson, but this was a really surreal experience. Sitting having a chin-wag with Rodney Bingenheimer on Sunset Strip, listening to his stories of Elvis, The Beatles and everyone who was anyone in the music business. Who'd have believed it?

We ended our night in a Pub out in Silverlake where some bad Karaoke was going on!!! After 1 beer we were all really tired - it was past midnight, so Dom and Becky dropped us off at our hotel.

So ended night no 7 in L.A. Moregreat  memories to keep for a lifetime. Thanks again to Dom and Becky for yet again entertaining us.

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