Places of rock ‘n’ roll interest
Capitol Records Building
A eye catching landmark of the Los Angeles skyline, the Capitol Records Building on Vine Street has played a highly significant role in rock ‘n’ roll history.
The attractive 13 storey tower was built in 1956, and constructed to resemble a stack of vinyl records topped by a stylus.
Besides offices, the inside of the building boasts a world class recording studio (the aptly named Capitol Studios) which has been used by many iconic artists ranging from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and The Beach Boys.
And Capitol Records itself was the label which promoted and produced the records of such popular acts as The Beach Boys, The Band, The Beatles and Pink Floyd to worldwide audiences. The black and white graphic image of the building which appears on albums became iconic in itself, as did the phrase, “From the Sound Capitol of the World.”
Rock ‘n’ roll fans will be interested to know that it is outside the tower where the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of John Lennon lays. There is also a mural of jazz artists like Nat ‘King’ Cole and Billie Holiday.
An odd fact about the building is that the blinking light atop the tower spells out the word “Hollywood” in Morse code, and it has been doing so since the building’s opening. In 1992 it read “Capitol 50” in honour of the label’s 50th anniversary, before reverting back to spelling “Hollywood”.
50 years on from its opening, the Capitol Records Building was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Well worth a visit if you are travelling to LA.
Location: 1750 Vine Street, Los Angeles, California, USA 90028
Beverly Hills Hotel
Major fans of Californian soft-rockers The Eagles will know only too well that this glamorous hotel was the one which featured on the front cover of the band’s most famous and acclaimed album, 1976’s Hotel California. It is thought to have inspired the lyrics of the song of the same name, and singer Don Henley’s interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.
Eagles fans from all over the world travel to LA to snap the famous exterior on their cameras and pose for photos, even if the hotel’s room rates are too much for the average Joe.
The hotel itself celebrated its centenary in 2012, and was duly named as the City of Beverly Hills’ first Historic Landmark to mark the celebration. For much of its existence it has been host to bona fide Hollywood stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Faye Dunaway and Marilyn Monroe.
The Beatles were also known to have stayed there, and even had swimming lessons in the luxurious pool.
Location: 9641 Sunset Boulevard Beverly Hills, California, USA 90210
Andaz West Hollywood
Formely known as ‘Riot House’
Another hotel which has become virtually synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll excess, the Andaz West Hollywood was once nicknamed ‘Riot House’ (to rhyme with its former name of Hyatt House) after a host of rockers including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who made it the place to party on the strip in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Legend has it that Led Zeppelin John Bonham drummer even drove a Harley Davidson motorcycle up a down the corridors of the hotel (which was copied in the movie Rock Star featuring Bonham’s son), and the then Hyatt was the place where the old rock ‘n’ roll adage of throwing TVs out of the window and trashing hotel rooms was truly etched into public conciousness. Worse still, Keith Richards bared his backside to onlookers from the Room 1015 balcony when staying there in the 1970s.
The hotel is a much more serene place these days, particularly since its most recent renovation in 2009, but is still a good place to stay if you want easy access to the Strip and to imagine just what went on in those hotel rooms when the Zep or Stones were in town.
Location: 8401 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, California, USA 90069
The Rainbow Bar & Grill
The Rainbow is a renowned bar and restaurant on the Sunset Strip which made its way into rock ‘n’ roll folklore.
The restaurant and its top floor club (known as ‘Over The Rainbow’) were opened in 1972 by the same people responsible for The Roxy Theatre and Key Club adjacent to it: Lou Adler and Elmer Valentine.
The joint quickly became a favourite haunt of rockstars and actors alike, regulars at the Rainbow in the 1970s and 1980s including John Lennon, Keith Moon, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and members of hair metal favourites Mötley Crüe and Guns ‘N Roses (the latter whom featured the establishment in several music videos).
The late actor and comedian John Belushi famously had his last meal at the Grill, before succumbing to a deadly “speedball” of heroin and cocaine at the Chateau Marmont hotel in 1982.
As well as bands, the Rainbow was filled with keen groupies such as the notorious madam Pamela Des Barres, who worked as a waitress there at one point in the 1980s. A young Anthony Kiedis even made his way into the joint with his free-spirited father, sowing the seeds for a career in rock ‘n’ roll for the impressionable young boy.
The bar has also found its way into song, with sardonic songwriter Warren Zevon referencing the Rainbow in the last verse of his 1976 song ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me.’ It has also been name-dropped in songs by W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns.
The Rainbow Bar & Grill is still going strong today and is certainly a key stop off point for a rock ‘n’ roll pilgrim in LA. And the food ain’t bad either.
Location: 9015 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California, USA 90069
Alta Cienga Motel
Former ‘home’ of Jim Morrison 1968-70
This otherwise nondescript motel in West Hollywood became a rock pilgrim site due to it being the residence of the Lizard King himself for two years from 1968 to 1970. Morrison set up camp in Room 32, as confirmed in the book on his life, No One Here Gets Out Alive.
The room became a dedicated site for Morrison, and it is possible to go inside the room to view various pictures and memorabilia, and even inscribe a tribute to the late rock legend on the wall, as many fans from the world have done.
The motel also took its place in celluloid history after being filmed for the Oliver Stone movie about The Doors frontman (though this was shorn out of the theatrical cut but maintained on the ‘deleted scenes’ of the DVD).
Location: 1005 North La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood, California, USA 90069
Sunset Sound Studio
For over half a century Sunset Sound studio has been churning out classic records from some of the best known artists on the globe. The studio on the strip, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012, has recorded everyone from The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Ryan Adams, Morrissey and M83.
The five room studio – whose building was originally an automotive repair garage – was founded by entrepreneur Tutti Camarata, and moved from recording scores for Disney films to capturing the sounds of some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands.
Sunset Sound boasts high quality equipment in its custom setting, with an enviable array of customized consoles, discrete component equipment, and vintage microphones.
Back In 1982 the owners opened a two room sister facility simply called Sound Factory, which has been similarly successful with the likes of Tom Waits, Los Lobos and Counting Crows recording there in times gone by.
Location: 6650 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California, USA 90028