El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A very Heavy Metal Christmas in the "90027"

Found photos of a Heavy Metal teenage drummer circa 1977.

When my family lived on Bates Ave in Los Angeles there was a row of bungalows behind our house that sat on a steep incline overlooking our driveway and King Junior High. These tiny 1926 Spanish bungalows would attract actors, musicians, artists and revolutionaries back in the 1970s and 1980s and probably still do today. One of the residents of these bungalows was Rick, an actor who once spent a Christmas Eve with my family as he had nowhere else to go. We welcomed him into our home and he sang "Silent Night" with us at Midnight. He was a casual pot smoker who would sometimes sing “Home Grown’s alright with me, Home Grown’s alright with me, just put it in the grown and let it be”. A couple of years ago I ran into him at Druckers' Jewellery Shop on Vermont. I had not seen him since the late 1970's but I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he remembered that "song" and he belted out the lyrics without missing a beat, but could vaguely remember me and my family. Another memorable resident was a quiet female impersonator that would take the bus from Silverlake to Studio City to perform at the now defunct Queen Mary Cabaret on Ventura Blvd. I once found myself riding on the 81 Ventura bus as he sat across from me. He was very pleasant and chatted with me briefly about the neighborhood and the noise from the Junior High School that kept him awake while he was trying to sleep during the day and then quickly exited the bus on Whitsett Ave in front of the Cabaret. The most famous resident from these bungalows was rumored to be one of the Black Eyed Peas in the early 1990s who was also a John Marshall HS alumni. However, the coolest person that lived here was a Jewish musician from New York named Stuart. He lived there around 1977 or 1978 and his drum set took up his entire living room. He was in his mid-twenties and could pound the skins like John Bonham and Keith Moon combined. Despite our age difference, we became fast friends and he would often talk shop with me about the music business such as his ambitions to be a music producer one day. He lived there a very short time, probably less than a year and he got along well with my parents despite my sister having a wicked crush on him. When he moved out, it was around Christmas time and he left us with a few gifts. Most notably a faux rock garden with a water pump that he had in his front yard. My mother went on to use this rock garden in her Christmas Nativity scene for the next 25 years (don’t ask !). The rock garden still exists today and it sits lonely in retirement in my garage without a Nativity scene to compliment anymore. He also left me two giant posters. One was of an early pre-Tawny Kitaen version of David Coverdale’s Whitesnake and the other was a giant Led Zeppelin poster that hung in my room for years. I still have that Zep poster rolled up and sitting in storage. The corners are dog-eared and are loaded with masking tape residue but it still has its Rock N’ Roll mojo. I unrolled it a few years ago and recalled Stuart rocking on the drums in the back of our house from one of those tiny bungalows on Bates Ave in Silverlake. Wherever you are Stuart, “It's been a long time since I rock-and-rolled, It's been a long time since I did the Stroll, Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back, let me get it back……”

(A note on these snapshots. These photos are not of the actual Stuart. I came across them one day while shopping on-line for old photos. It features a heavy metal teenage drummer with the exact Led Zeppelin poster that Stuart gave me and for kickers its during Christmas time ! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised and bought them both)

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