An oral history of the Valley's Palomino club

willie-nelson-palomino-lamag.jpgWillie Nelson, beardless and braidless, at the Palomino in 1970. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images at LA Magazine's website

Before everyone forgets that LA's music lore includes North Hollywood, Los Angeles Magazine's June issue lands a story on the legendary Palomino. The club on north Lankershim was the premier West Coast venue for country music for a few decades. Palomino lore ranges from Buck Owens and Johnny Cash to Linda Ronstadt and the Blasters. From the piece:

During the Pal’s prime, from the early 1960s through the mid-1970s, such country icons as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Hoyt Axton, Kitty Wells, George Jones, Charley Pride, and Ernest Tubb played the foot-high stage, sweating under the hot lights, the audience inches from their feet. Emmylou Harris sang with a band that included Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton and his pianist Glen Hardin. The Flying Burrito Brothers, who were fronted by country-rock artist Gram Parsons, entertained on Monday nights. (The hard-living Parsons, whose mix of country, blues, and folk influenced a generation of musicians, was beaten up one night by a group of rowdy marines.) The crowd was just as star studded. Jerry Lee Lewis was a fixture. Linda Ronstadt had a boyfriend, Jerry Brown, who was let in for free but insisted on paying the cover. Liza Minnelli was a fan of Tony Booth, the leader of the house band, the Palomino Riders. Hugh Hefner often arrived with his teenage companion, Barbi Benton....


By the late 1970s, the Palomino patrons were aging along with the club. Midrange performers like Jerry Jeff Walker and David Allan Coe still pulled in audiences, but the Palomino had more competition with the opening of the Country Club in Reseda and Perkins Palace in Pasadena. There were still some memorable nights. Elvis Costello played a legendary set in 1979. Clint Eastwood featured the club in Every Which Way but Loose and Any Which Way You Can. It’s rumored that Burt Reynolds built the illegal back patio to accommodate scenes in Hooper. Thursday’s talent night remained hugely popular. There was often a line at the sign-up table. Cow punk was emerging in Hollywood, and in the early 1980s, its better-known practitioners occasionally drifted over Cahuenga. Lone Justice, Dwight Yoakam, the Beat Farmers, the Long Ryders, and the Blasters were a few who, if even for a night, lured in younger patrons.

Lot of fun stuff in the story.


More by Kevin Roderick:
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