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Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in 60s Hollywood

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On the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1966 an electrifying scene appeared out of nowhere, exploded into creativity, and then, just as suddenly, vanished. So much remarkable music, art, and social revolution came from one place at one time, it's difficult now to grasp how it all happened. In that moment, rock 'n' roll displaced movies as the centre of action in Hol On the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1966 an electrifying scene appeared out of nowhere, exploded into creativity, and then, just as suddenly, vanished. So much remarkable music, art, and social revolution came from one place at one time, it's difficult now to grasp how it all happened. In that moment, rock 'n' roll displaced movies as the centre of action in Hollywood. This book tells the story of that astonishing time. The nightlife was a heady mix of modernist design, pop art, and beat aesthetics. From the moment The Byrds debuted at Ciro's on March 26th 1965 - with Bob Dylan joining them on stage - right up to the demonstrations of November 1966, Sunset Strip nightclubs nurtured and broke The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, The Turtles, The Mamas & The Papas, and many others. The Strip was a hotbed for garage punk bands such as The Standells, The Seeds, The Music Machine and The Electric Prunes. Folk-rock and psychedelia were born there, and it was a favourite hangout and inspiration for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Them, The Velvet Underground, and The Yardbirds. Pop art and rock 'n' roll combined, and the new fusion quickly permeated television, animation, and New Hollywood's indie cinema.


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On the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1966 an electrifying scene appeared out of nowhere, exploded into creativity, and then, just as suddenly, vanished. So much remarkable music, art, and social revolution came from one place at one time, it's difficult now to grasp how it all happened. In that moment, rock 'n' roll displaced movies as the centre of action in Hol On the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1966 an electrifying scene appeared out of nowhere, exploded into creativity, and then, just as suddenly, vanished. So much remarkable music, art, and social revolution came from one place at one time, it's difficult now to grasp how it all happened. In that moment, rock 'n' roll displaced movies as the centre of action in Hollywood. This book tells the story of that astonishing time. The nightlife was a heady mix of modernist design, pop art, and beat aesthetics. From the moment The Byrds debuted at Ciro's on March 26th 1965 - with Bob Dylan joining them on stage - right up to the demonstrations of November 1966, Sunset Strip nightclubs nurtured and broke The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, The Turtles, The Mamas & The Papas, and many others. The Strip was a hotbed for garage punk bands such as The Standells, The Seeds, The Music Machine and The Electric Prunes. Folk-rock and psychedelia were born there, and it was a favourite hangout and inspiration for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Them, The Velvet Underground, and The Yardbirds. Pop art and rock 'n' roll combined, and the new fusion quickly permeated television, animation, and New Hollywood's indie cinema.

30 review for Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in 60s Hollywood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marti

    This is similar to another book I just read called New York Rock in that it is an exhaustive catalog of every happening at every venue on the Sunset Strip during its brief heyday (except that it reads better as a cover to cover experience). The scene was brought to an abrupt end by conservative business elements who did not want to surrender their plans for a financial district to "a bunch of longhairs." Most of the music and films associated with the riots -- Standells, Buffalo Springfield and This is similar to another book I just read called New York Rock in that it is an exhaustive catalog of every happening at every venue on the Sunset Strip during its brief heyday (except that it reads better as a cover to cover experience). The scene was brought to an abrupt end by conservative business elements who did not want to surrender their plans for a financial district to "a bunch of longhairs." Most of the music and films associated with the riots -- Standells, Buffalo Springfield and the movie Riot on Sunset Strip -- came out after most of the legendary venues had been closed, or in the case of Pandora's Box, bulldozed. (The interior of the club had been painstakingly recreated for the film.) In fact, while many music historians would say that Altamont was the day the music died [I would not go that far], this author thinks rock and roll never recovered from (gasp!) Monterey Pop! Because L.A. musicians had no place to play, organizers there put together the festival so as to be far away from the LAPD. However, it was hijacked by what the author believed was the elitist, and humorless San Francisco rock establishment, who disdained pop idols and the kind of musicians who would play on soundtracks for cartoons and commercials (he might have a point there). That's why the author includes a whole chapter devoted cartoon bands like "The Wayouts," "The Bugs," and "Pebbles and Bam Bam," who had a hit with "Let the Sun Shine In" (and Jay Ward's studio was located in the heart of the Strip district which explains why the statue of Bullwinkle appears in a lot of my favorite movies). The proximity of Sunset Strip music clubs to other TV and film production companies spread the campy L.A. teen aesthetic nationally via shows like Batman, The Flintstones, Rocky and Bullwinkle and of course The Monkees (and movies like The Trip, The Wild Angels, and The Wild in the Streets). In fact, the last book I read about the making of Head, cites this book as an essential guide which is why I got it from the library. I realize I may have to buy my own copy as I will not have time to google everything in it (there are just too many obscure things I have never heard of that I need to check out. And the official page count may be 250, but each page is like two or three pages). However, it certainly connects a lot of dots and makes me want to re-watch all of the Shivaree episodes I have on DVD.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bob Schnell

    Not 100% accurate but close enough. A vital reference (and a fun read) for any rock and roll book collection. Full review later.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane Rinella

    The Holy Grail of an era! I walked away from it feeling like I had a great understanding of events I didn't get to witness first hand. It's not just about bands and clubs, it's about the entire mentality behind the police action that lead to a tragic closure of a piece of rock history. The events, and their catalysts, were researched in great detail, making it hard to imagine that anything was overlooked. The only bad thing about this book is that it may just contain too much information. It make The Holy Grail of an era! I walked away from it feeling like I had a great understanding of events I didn't get to witness first hand. It's not just about bands and clubs, it's about the entire mentality behind the police action that lead to a tragic closure of a piece of rock history. The events, and their catalysts, were researched in great detail, making it hard to imagine that anything was overlooked. The only bad thing about this book is that it may just contain too much information. It makes it hard to sort through or use for research. It also would have been nice if more in-depth eye witness accounts had been used, thus giving the reader the vibe of the era from a teenager's point of view. Sadly that was not explored as much as I would have liked. Seriously though, if you dig the 60's LA scene, you need this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Best rock book ever, which begins by tracing all the different music styles that preceded the garage-psych scene of the Sixties Sunset Strip, from surf culture to the East LA R & B scene to the folk music-coffeehouse explosion, etc. All the top ranking bands from that period get covered, whether its The Byrds, Love, The Doors, The Mothers of Invention, The Seeds, Standells, Music Machine or Buffalo Springfield. No stone's left unturned. Not only are the bands covered but the International Teen F Best rock book ever, which begins by tracing all the different music styles that preceded the garage-psych scene of the Sixties Sunset Strip, from surf culture to the East LA R & B scene to the folk music-coffeehouse explosion, etc. All the top ranking bands from that period get covered, whether its The Byrds, Love, The Doors, The Mothers of Invention, The Seeds, Standells, Music Machine or Buffalo Springfield. No stone's left unturned. Not only are the bands covered but the International Teen Fair is discussed, every club in its heyday, boutiques, pop artists, clothes designers influenced by the scene, everything's covered. Like the movie its named after it all ends with the Sunset Strip curfew riots. Although the kids won it was a bitter victory because the Strip was never really the same again. Ain't it hard.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    An exhaustive and well-researched look at a crucial point in pop-culture history, the years before AM radio caved to FM, when everyone started a band and L.A. made a stand to be reckoned as the last hold-out against the British invasion. Immensely entertaining, if only because it makes you wish you could explore the author's record collection... An exhaustive and well-researched look at a crucial point in pop-culture history, the years before AM radio caved to FM, when everyone started a band and L.A. made a stand to be reckoned as the last hold-out against the British invasion. Immensely entertaining, if only because it makes you wish you could explore the author's record collection...

  6. 4 out of 5

    R.S. Gompertz

    “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…” Stephen Stills’ haunting Buffalo Springfield song “For What it’s Worth” hit the charts in early 1967 and became one of the most recognized protest anthems of all time. “Riot on Sunset Strip” tells the story behind the Stills song, a story that started decades earlier when the Strip was home to gangsters and speakeasies. The well-designed book documents how each decade along the Strip, a municipal no-man’s land between L.A. proper “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…” Stephen Stills’ haunting Buffalo Springfield song “For What it’s Worth” hit the charts in early 1967 and became one of the most recognized protest anthems of all time. “Riot on Sunset Strip” tells the story behind the Stills song, a story that started decades earlier when the Strip was home to gangsters and speakeasies. The well-designed book documents how each decade along the Strip, a municipal no-man’s land between L.A. proper and Beverly Hills, underwent transformations that either mirrored or created the broader culture. In the sixties, legendary venues such as Ciro’s, Gazzari’s, The Troubadour, The Whiskey A Go Go and others provided places for young people to gather and dance to bands from Johnny Rivers and the Bobby Fuller Four to the Doors, and numerous, well-documented others. Before reading this book I had underestimated the importance and impact of the Byrds and the origins of psychedelic rock from groups like Love. Electric Prunes, anyone? I missed them the first time, but now consider myself a fan. I recommend listening to each band as you read about them to enhance the experience. “Riot” is so thorough in attention to detail that it could have been a master’s thesis. Fortunately, it doesn’t read like one. The author peppers the book with fascinating details, photos, anecdotes, band trivia, and an amazing array of facts about the personalities, the venues, the neighborhoods and the political backdrop of each of the major transformations the Strip underwent. I grew up in and write about L.A. during the sixties and found this book to both entertaining, nostalgic and invaluable as a source of history and insights into such a formative time and place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    A detailed history of Sunset Strip which shows it's development as a cultural hub through to it's peak in 1964-1966 when it was effectively destroyed by business/political machinations. As much as anything, Priore's aim is to re-establish the pre-eminence of LA over the elitist and more culturally limited scene in San Francisco which took the Strip's position by default in 1967. The result? LA 1, SF 0. A detailed history of Sunset Strip which shows it's development as a cultural hub through to it's peak in 1964-1966 when it was effectively destroyed by business/political machinations. As much as anything, Priore's aim is to re-establish the pre-eminence of LA over the elitist and more culturally limited scene in San Francisco which took the Strip's position by default in 1967. The result? LA 1, SF 0.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steve Hare

    This is a great deep dive into the counterculture and music scene of the Sunset Strip although it's a tough read at times. This is a great deep dive into the counterculture and music scene of the Sunset Strip although it's a tough read at times.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Iowa City Public Library

    Here’s a book that I had been eagerly awaiting for quite some time, and for the most part it realizes my expectations. Subtitled "Rock ‘n’ roll’s last stand in Hollywood", L. A. scenester Dominic Priore has fashioned both a history and a polemic, detailing the extraordinarily creative and wide-open Los Angeles area pop music scene spanning roughly the arrival of the Beatles in early 1964 to the Sunset Strip teenage riots of late 1966, which effectively closed down much of the music scene (said ri Here’s a book that I had been eagerly awaiting for quite some time, and for the most part it realizes my expectations. Subtitled "Rock ‘n’ roll’s last stand in Hollywood", L. A. scenester Dominic Priore has fashioned both a history and a polemic, detailing the extraordinarily creative and wide-open Los Angeles area pop music scene spanning roughly the arrival of the Beatles in early 1964 to the Sunset Strip teenage riots of late 1966, which effectively closed down much of the music scene (said riots, and the draconian police and governmental response to same, being the inspiration for the Buffalo Springfield’s "For What It’s Worth"). Priore covers the whole kaleidoscopic range of Los Angeles music in the ’60′s, from Dick Dale and the birth of surf music, through the coffee house folk scene, Johnny Rivers and the go-go bar performers, folk-rock, garage punk, into psychedelia and nascent country rock, with look-ins at soul and jazz along the way. Priore also covers pop-art, fashion, Hollywood’s use of Rock in films and television (especially the Monkees phenomenon) and the long roll call of music clubs and hipster hangouts that were essential to the vibrancy of the scene – Pandora’s Box, the Whisky A Go Go, the Trip, Brave New World – names to conjure with… A few caveats: I was hoping this might be an oral history, since the author has interviewed so many of the surviving participants, and, as fascinating as Priore’s account of the times and the place is, there’s little feel for what the day to day life on the Strip was like, for both musicians and audiences (well, maybe that’s a book for someone else to do…). As far as the polemical aspect of the book, Priore is pro-L.A., anti-San Francisco, believing that the focus of international attention was unjustly shifted from L. A. to the San Francisco music scene in 1967, the purported "plasticity" of L. A. being contrasted to the supposed Bohemian purism of S. F. Seems to me that after the late-’66 riots that formed the climax of the tale, there were no new bands emerging from the Hollywood club scene that could compare in influence or originality to the Byrds, the Doors, Love, or Buffalo Springfield (throw in the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas at the periphery of the scene), whereas by ’67 S. F. had a wide range of interesting new bands; the shift of focus between the cities seems understandable to me. Priore does make a great case, however, that before the San sound became the rage, Los Angeles had already been there, done that, in terms of innovation and creativity, and without the smugness and parochialism often displayed by Frisco musicians. (One other carp: a number of the photographs are stunningly, cluelessly mis-captioned – though I understand this is the fault of an incompetent sub-editor, not the author). I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in ’60s music and pop culture. It’s a great trip back to a world the likes of which we are unlikely to see again. --Charlie From ICPL Staff Picks Blog

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This book is a pop culture history of a brief period (1964-ish to 1967) of a very small place. I was amazed at what an impact the mile and a half stretch of Sunset Strip had on the development of popular music. These years line up with my life from age 11 to 14 and most of the rock and roll that I still love came out of this cauldron. This includes the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mommas and the Poppas, the Righteous Brothers, ad infinitum. There is just a wealth of information describing the cons This book is a pop culture history of a brief period (1964-ish to 1967) of a very small place. I was amazed at what an impact the mile and a half stretch of Sunset Strip had on the development of popular music. These years line up with my life from age 11 to 14 and most of the rock and roll that I still love came out of this cauldron. This includes the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mommas and the Poppas, the Righteous Brothers, ad infinitum. There is just a wealth of information describing the constantly morphing music scene and the melding of folk, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, and Chicano music. The author also looks at how this musical culture was appropriated by corporate types, resulting in acts like the Monkees. On the other hand, there was Frank Zappa. And everything in between. This book also chronicles the development of "youth culture," and I find it wonderfully ironic that the "riot" referenced in the title was an actual street riot where the LAPD laid into a horde of surburban teenagers who were protesting draconian rules that had been enacted to prohibit dancing at teen clubs. The author ascribes this event to efforts by rich developers to evict the young proto hippies from real estate that they wanted to convert to a high end office district. This is the plot of a cheesy beach movie, but apparently it really happened. So "Riot on Sunset Strip" ends with the aforementioned turmoil, but it also ends with the Monterey Pop Festival which introduced the incredible music that came out of this "scene" to the rest of the country. Those were the days, my friends.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott Kirby

    My Dad Robert "BOB" Kirby was a Porsche Speedster racer when I was a kid and went on to race at Le Mans, Sebring, Riverside and many other famous race tracks. I had been looking for a book that was more on old time racing ( to me today all the cars look alike and this started 25 years ago - it gets worse every year) and loved reading about Jimmy Clark, Fangio, Commendore Ferrari as well as Nicky Lauda, James Hunt and Dan Gurney. All in all this is a great book. I can' t speak highly enough about My Dad Robert "BOB" Kirby was a Porsche Speedster racer when I was a kid and went on to race at Le Mans, Sebring, Riverside and many other famous race tracks. I had been looking for a book that was more on old time racing ( to me today all the cars look alike and this started 25 years ago - it gets worse every year) and loved reading about Jimmy Clark, Fangio, Commendore Ferrari as well as Nicky Lauda, James Hunt and Dan Gurney. All in all this is a great book. I can' t speak highly enough about it. Every page glistens. The author uses words that are not even in the dictionary ( I read on a Kindle) and I had to guess that a GRAND EPREAVUE (possibly mispelled) was a Grand Prix but this guy genrally doesn't write over anyone's head. It reminded me of when I was a little kid and Dad took me to restaurant and whispered "LOOK THERE'S STERLING MOSS"... I said "In my eggs?"... I thought Sterling Moss was some growth that appeared on restaurant food. But this is a great book and I wolfed it down. If you love Formula one, and are a little older and think the old cars ( Lotuses, BRMs, Brabhams, shark nosed Ferraris etc were better days than you will I PROMISE love this fantastic book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Townsend

    This is a very readable, fun book about the sudden rise and fall of youth culture, bands, music, clubs, creativity and Hollywood mix that was Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA in 1965-66, which birthed groups such as Love, Buffalo Springfield, and the Doors, among others. Essential reading for fans of 1960s American rock and roll.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Domenic Priore knows more about Los Angeles musical history than anyone I have ever read or had the pleasure to meet. This book isn't just about the 60's rock scene, it's about the social and political happenings of that time period. A great read with some previously unseen pics of favorite artists. Domenic Priore knows more about Los Angeles musical history than anyone I have ever read or had the pleasure to meet. This book isn't just about the 60's rock scene, it's about the social and political happenings of that time period. A great read with some previously unseen pics of favorite artists.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    It was a very good book that encompassed the demographic, racial, cultural, socioeconomic and other related changes within Los Angeles during 1920s to 1960s. The author had throughly researched this time period and provided detailed interviews with the participants who were directly involved within the entertainment scene and historical insights which led to the Sunset Strip riots.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zee

    Well researched, well documented, well written account of an integral time and place in American culture. Priore does a wonderful job of making the Sunset Scene come to life by providing enough detail and context to give it a proper weight.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gaston

    Domenic Priore has a very hands on first person view of the history of how and what went down. Don't be fooled by the coffee table size of this book it is excellent and the archival pictures really add to the experience. Domenic Priore has a very hands on first person view of the history of how and what went down. Don't be fooled by the coffee table size of this book it is excellent and the archival pictures really add to the experience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yosuke

    Pretty good but the captions are inaccurate for some of the photos. Would still recommend it if you are a music nerd.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Great history of live shows in Los Angeles and on the Strip.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Phil Overeem

    Prosaically written but chock-full of fascinating knowledge about the failed Hollywood rock and roll revolution. Recommended to despisers of '60s San Fran hippie elitism. Prosaically written but chock-full of fascinating knowledge about the failed Hollywood rock and roll revolution. Recommended to despisers of '60s San Fran hippie elitism.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    Exceptional!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jack Galbraith

    Exhausting is right. ...But that's a good [email protected] Exhausting is right. ...But that's a good [email protected]

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ray

  23. 5 out of 5

    BookSwim.com Book Rental Online

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Krista

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Rogers

  28. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Watson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lukas Evan

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