Thursday, November 20, 2008

Starwood 1973- 1982

The Starwood
8151 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood
The Starwood -The Way It Was

1982 photo: LAPL photo database
Herald Examiner Collection
  • The Starwood
  • Eddie Nash
  • Club House Blues
  • The Bland and The Bloated
  • The Tipping Point
  • Trouble at the Disco
  • Neighborhood Unrest
  • Murder, Drugs and Rock n' Roll

The Starwood was highly instrumental in the careers of the Go-Go's as well as Van Halen, Quiet Riot, DEVO, The Runaways, the Germs and X.

The Starwood in 1981

The Starwood site today - mini-mall yuk

2008 photo: tlc

Former site of the Starwood - looking north

2008 photo: tlc

Former site of the Starwood - looking east

2008 photo: tlc

March 1973  
In 1973, the old P.J.'s club had new owners-  again.  This time it was the infamous Eddie Nash aka Adel Nasrallah.

Eddie Nash (Adel Nasrallah)
Eddie Nash was a flamboyant nightclub owner. He arrived in California via Palestine in the 1950's. His first business was called Beef's Chuck, a hot dog stand on Hollywood Boulevard. 

By the 1970's,  Adel Nasrallah had become Eddie Nash a Hollywood player. He had amassed a fortune a aquired a slew of  liquor licenses and nightclubs in the Hollywood area.  His clubs included; the Odyssey on Beverly Boulevard, Soul'd Out club at 6507 Sunset Strip (once know as Club Lingerie), the Kit Kat strip club, Paradise Ballroom and Seven Seas building - located across from Grauman's Chinese Theater. 
Seven Sea's was tiki chic

Nash was a Hollywood drug kingpin. Some say his clubs were just fronts for selling dope. He was heavy user himself. His favorite was freebase cocaine. Sometimes he liked to mix crack with heroin. 
Eddie Nash would often sell drugs to patrons of his clubs.  One of his most reliable clients was porn star John Holmes. Holmes was also a big time drug user. He would latch on to Eddie Nash and anyone who would give him drugs. Another source for him was group of seedy characters known as the Wonderland Gang. 

John Holmes often ran favors for Nash.  Holmes also ran favors for the Wonderland Gang. He pretty much ran errands for whoever would give him drugs.

At his home in Studio City - Nash was known to walk around in silk robes and bikini briefs. At his side was a 300 pound body guard named Gregory Diles. Diles, a black man, was also a drug addict and very loyal to Nash. 
Back at the Starwood

In 1973 Eddie Nash owned the Starwood nightclub on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights. 

At this time the Starwood had a folk room and a rock room.  Each room could accommodate about 400 people (or seat 250). 
  • The folk room would  follow a booking policy similar to the Troubadour.
  • The rock room followed a booking policy similar to the Whisky.
The main acts played a Wednesday - Sunday schedule.

The two rooms had separate cover charges. 
  • Folk Room  (back room) -  the old puppet room was now the folk room. It was cozy and elegant. It had wood paneling, extremely high ceiling, great sound system and a small stage in one of it's corners. It also had a $3.00 cover charge plus two drink minimum.
  • Rock Room (front room) - old PJ's main room was now Starwood's rock room  -It was smaller, less elegant,  400 people or seats 250 - this room would  present known and unknown bands that play good loud,  dance music. The Rock Room had a 99 seat VIP seating area in the balcony and good size dressing rooms. (Old bank conference rooms come to mind).
However, whenever a good band took the stage, most of the other 400 fans in the other bar rooms would mill in and out of the main room- exceeding the legal occupancy limits and as they watched the set in the other room.

The former site of the Starwood 

2008 photo: tlc

1975 -  Los Angeles Singin' those Club House Blues 
The early 1970's was a hard time financially for small rock clubs. The economy was sagging and club attendance sparse. Record companies were not paying acts to play in small clubs anymore. The local clubs struggled to survive. 
Rock music had become a big industry run by suits. There was a lot of money to be made if properly marketed.  This meant that rock shows shifted away from the intimate clubs to the more profitable basketball arenas and outdoor stadiums.
Pre-packaged rock  (yum)
Rock shows became a product - prepackaged for mass consumption. Rock music was no longer on the fringe of society.  It was main street. Concerts became must see events. They were slick production spectacles - and nothing was left to chance. 

Early 1970's music - The Age of the Bland and the Bloated

The rockgods of mass appeal
Big record labels and rock promoters (such as Wolf and Rissmiller), staged huge spectacle shows at the 18,000 seat Inglewood Forum and the 55,000 seat Anaheim Stadium. These were the days (1974-1978) of the super rock gods such as Jethro Tull, The Who, Queen, The Rolling Stone, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin ruled. Seeing a good rock band in a small club were a thing of the past. 
Elton John at Dodger Stadium

1975: Variety

Inglewood Forum
1979 photo by Ken Papaleo
 Herald-Examiner Collection 

1975 ad - the Forum

L.A. Times

1976  ad- Anaheim Stadium
L.A. Times

1975 - The Starwood was -well,  Stayin' Alive

In 1975, The Starwood was an important rock venue for unsigned local bands. For one thing - it was still in business. Maybe this was because the Starwood did not count as heavily on record company support as the Whisky and Troubadour did.  When the Whisky and Troubadour dropped live entertainment shows in 1975, the Starwood benefited tremendously. 

Some Whisky type acts moved over to the Roxy, which was also co-owned by Elmer Valentine. However, the Roxy's entertainment policy was rather general - not  just rock music. It offered jazz, R&B, Country and some mainline pop. 

Most unsigned rock acts and teenagers ended up migrating to the Starwood. 
1975 shows at the Starwood - ( personal favorites)
Spencer Davis Group
Canned Heat
Arthur Lee and Love
The Dillards
Mott the Hoople
Bob Seger
Buddy Miles
1976 shows at the Starwood (personal favorites)
The Runaways (February 2)
Dr. Feelgood
Tommy James
Rick Springfield

L.A. Times
The Tipping Point
1976  was the tipping point in Los Angeles.  Many young adults and teenagers were frustrated with the whole music scene going on here. Rock music had traditionally been a outlet for teenagers to express pent up feelings and angst. Many felt this avenue had been absconded by the powers that be. 

Young people were frustrated and angry about this. They rejected the corporate rock being force fed them by promoters and record companies.  Many decided to make their own music the way they liked it. They embraced the Do-It-Yourself ethic. They wanted to hear and make music that was their own, without outside interference. 

One of the first groups they embraced was the Runaways. The Runaways was a Kim Fowley groomed band. But they put on one of the more exciting shows at the Starwood in 1976. The songs were short, tight, unsophisticated and appealing. They were an immediate local sensation.  It was raw, real and immediate. No special effects, no high technology, no synthesizers, rather inadequate musicianship. Just pure, unfiltered emotion. 
The Runaways

Rodney Bingenheimer became a big booster of punk rock and promoted it on his Sunday evening KROQ radio show.  At Starwood's disco he would play plenty of Blondie, the Ramones, B-52's and X.
November of 1976 the Whisky reopened with two Kim Fowley managed bands -  Venus & the Razorblades and the Quick
L.A. Times

 1974-1976 -  
The Starwood was not a strictly rock music venue. There was plenty of jazz, country, folk,  rhythm and blues, Latin and disco being presented here. But over the years the club gradually steered more and more toward rock and punk music. All the while, the  Starwood continued it policy to showcase both signed and unsigned bands.
1977 was another pivotal year for the Starwood.  Punk music was taking off in Los Angeles and the Starwood bacame an important venue for this. At first mostly local groups trying to make good played here. However, by 1977, major recording artist wanted to play here. 
However, every Sunday night, the club gave local rock groups a chance to perform.  
Starwood made up of three separate rooms - a disco in the back, a huge lounge/bar in the middle and the main concert room in front. There was no minimum age limit and a small door charge. It booked the best new wave and punk bands.

 Most people came to see the band play in the main room (rock room) which held about 400 people. However - during intermission - people would pour into the smaller back disco (previously the folk room) where either Rodney Bingenheimer or Phast Phreddie spun records. 
The dance floors were nice and roomy.  Dance moves ranged from po-going, to the shank to the pony.  All this new wave dancing was a back lash to the disco scene. 
The Starwood was open seven nights from 8pm on. 
Generally there was $5 cover on Friday and Saturday - but it depended on who was playing. 
1977 shows at the Starwood (personal favorites)
Cheap Trick
John Cale
The Damned
Ruby (John Forgerty's new band)
The Weirdos
The Dead Boys
The Mumps
By this time, the Starwood had become a local rock institution.  More and more recording artist wanted to play here. However, every Sunday the club gave local rock groups a chance to perform.  The Starwood had three separate rooms; a disco, lounge/bar and a concert room with VIP seating. It was open everynight, and there was no age limit.
In 1977 -  rock 'n roll shifted back into the smaller clubs.  Thankfully, you didn't have to go to a basketball arena to see a good band play. Small club entertainment was back in style. Record companies started to look to clubs to spotlight new talent. They realize that most new talent come across best in the intimate club setting. The Whisky reopened and had a very successful year in 1977. 
1978 shows at the Starwood (personal favorites)
The Jam
Buddy Rich
The Heaters
U.K. Squeeze
Jan and Dean
Flamin' Groovies
Gary Lewis and the Playboys
The Knack

L.A. Times

1979 shows at the Starwood (personal favorites)
Blue Oyster Cult
Quiet Riot
John Cougar
Levi and the Rockats
John Hiatt
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Rodney Bingenheimer presided over the Starwood's disco room. He replaced disco records with new-wave dance music. 
L.A. Times
In 1979 there was a huge resurgence in the Los Angeles live entertainment club scene. Suddenly there were dozens of small clubs  showcasing local unsigned bands.  Record companies sense this and came around to check out the bands.


Neighborhood Unrest - and complaints

August 1979  
The Starwood was a dancer's dream - but a neighbor's nightmare.

There were constant confrontations between the club's owners and the surrounding neighborhood residents. The Starwood had very little on-site parking.  Club patrons would seek parking on nearby streets. The adjacent streets were lined with homes and apartments. 

After numerous complaints,  the Sheriff's Department and supervisor Ed Edelman asked to have the Starwood's business license be evoked.

The Sheriff Department filed a nine count complaint with the commission against the Starwood, citing; loud noise, loud boisterous patrons, patrons urinating, defecating , fornicating and partaking of illegal and dangerous drugs on the property of residents, patrons breaking bottles and leaving trash, patrons racing vehicles on surrounding streets. 

A seven-month investigation of West Hollywoods sheriff's deputies produced 389 complaints and observations by deputies of disturbances at Starwood.  

The Starwood responded with its own suit, it stated that the Sheriff's Departments had a personal vendetta against the club. 

The Starwood continued to operate while waiting for the appeal to  go through.  Frequent performers included  Quiet Riot and John Cougar

March 1980

     The Starwood was in trouble again following more complaints from the neighbors. 
These complaints included;  vadalism, alcohol and drug abuse, trespassing and other activites by club patrons. 
The Starwood spokesman responded by hiring a new security company and encouraged patrons to remain inside the club once admitted.  
Sept 1980 - Hard Core Surf Punks Infiltrate the Hollywood Scene

1981 photo by Gary Leonard
LAPL photo data base
In the 1980's there were several incidents of violence and vandalism at punk rock shows.  Some longtime L.A. punk enthusiast viewed the younger beach area punks coming into Hollywood as outside agitators bent on destroying the local punk community. The mindless ferocity of slam dancing bothered many and scared most of the smaller (and females) fans away from the front of the stage. 
1981 photo by Gary Leonard
LAPL photo data base
The Starwood started to shake down patrons for weapons. They refused admittance to any kids wearing Gestapo style spikes, heavy gloves and boots. 

The club also now refused to allow bands to invite kids up on stage where they often dive back into the audience. 

Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1980 
March 1980
The LA County business License Commission voted to revoke the Starwood's business license. The Starwood appealed the decision. The Starwood remained opened during the appeal process. 
December 7, 1980
Darby Crash of the Germs was found dead of a heroine overdose on December 7th 1980. He and a reunited Germs had played at the Starwood December 3rd, 1980. 

Darby Crash of the Germs

January, 1981
The Starwood closed for a month while it continued the appeal process regarding  having it's business license revoked.
February, 1981
There was controversy recently over rough housing at the club - expecially at hard core punk concerts by south bay groups like Black Flag and Circle Jerks.   
For years neighbors of the Starwood complained about outdoor rowdiness. Kids went back and forth from their cars to the club drinking and playing their car stereos loud.  
February 25, 1981 
The Starwood closed again after the state Court of Appeal refused to reinstate it's business license. Owners of the Starwood said they would appeal the case to the State Supreme Court. 
March 2, 1981
The Starwood reopened when the State Supreme Court granted a temporary stay order. 
Neighborhood residents were upset again. At a neighborhood meeting they denounced the Starwood club's role in ruining their community. Many residents complained that the Starwood contributed to an upsurge in neighborhood crime and vandalism.

The Starwood's spokesman assured those at the neighborhood meeting that the Starwood was going to change it's ways -  they promised to hire a private security patrol. 
June 13, 1981
The Starwood shuts its doors again after the L.A. County Superior Court ruled against the club's bid to regain its business license. It never reopened.

June 28, 1981
Eddie Nash  (aka Adel Nasrallah) - the owner of the Starwood - was robbed at gun point at his home in Studio City.  Stolen was a large stash of jewelry, money and drugs. 
Nash's house on Dona Lola Drive was on a cul-de-sac. It had a pool and sunken living room with a white stone facade. Adel Nasrallah (Eddie Nash) alway kept a large stash of jewelry, money and drugs at his house.
Eddie Nash was a drug dealer and heavy user of home-cooked crack cocaine. 
After he was robbed, Nash suspected that a friend of his, porn star John Holmes, had helped set up the burglary. Nash tortured Holmes until Holmes told him who the perpetrators were. Holmes pointed to the Wonderland Drug Gang who had their headquarters at a house on Wonderland Drive. The house was inhabited by seedy people doing all sorts of seedy stuff - like drugs and burglaries.
July 1, 1981

2008 photo:tlc
July 1, 1981 -  Three days after the burglary, four people were brutally killed at a home on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon. The four victims were part of the Wonderland Gang - the gang trafficked cocaine in the area. A fifth victim survived the attack despite having her skull bashed in and being left for dead. 
The Wonderland Gang made their living ripping off other drug dealers and steeling their stash. They dealt drugs from the home at 8763 Wonderland Avenue.
2008 photo: tlc
The murder scene on Wonderland Avenue was located three blocks from the home of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.  It was rumoured that Paul Revere and the Raiders once lived at this house in the 60's.
8763 Wonderland Avenue

2008 photo: tlc

July 10, 1982
Police raided Eddie Nash's home on Dona Lola Drive. During the raid, Nash's bodyguard Gregory Diles fired several rounds at the police. 

July 30, 1981
The owner of the Starwood (Eddie Nash) was charged arrested on narcotics charges. His club was search.

Detectives arrested Eddie Nash at his Studio City home. Police confiscated several ounces of cocaine, 10 rifles, shotguns and cash. At the Starwood they found over 5,000 Quaalude pills. Prosecutors accused Nash of trafficing drugs out of his club.

In July Eddie Nash and his bodyguard Gregory Diles, was implicated in ordering the the gruesome murder (the Wonderland Murders). It was alleged that he ordered the hit in retaliation for his home being robbed. He pleaded innocent.
 November 9, 1981 
A 24 year old man was found dead inside Eddie Nash's Studio City home - from an apparent drug overdose.
 November 25, 1981 
The police raided Nashes home at Dono Loma Place in Studio City and found two pounds of cocaine with a street value of over $1 million. They also found opium, scales, old oil paintings, shotguns and pistols. Eddie Nash and four others were arrested.
Eddie Nash being arrested at his home

Los Angeles Times photo
Nash and  Diles were arrested and charged with possession of narcotics for sale.
They were released on bail.  
They were both considered possible suspects in the Wonderland murders.
John Holmes is arrested
December 8, 1981
Police believed John Holmes had drawn the Wonderland Gang members a map of Nash's home. Holmes admitted to unlocking a slinding glass door at Nash's home so the gang could sneek in. 
The gang struck the morning of June 29, 1981.  The theives forced Nash to his feet and made him open a same. They took herioin cocaine, Quaaludes, jewelry and $185,000 in cash.  

Holmes being arrested
Holmes in court

After three months, the jury acquitted Holmes, saying there was not enough  hard evidence to support the prosecution's case against him.
February 12, 1982
Nash and his body guard (Diles) were arrested on narcotics charges after another raid on his home. Police found cocaine, cash, Quaaludes and handguns. They were released on bail. 
Nash's murder trial ended in a deadlock 11-1 on whether to convict Nash of murder.
(Later Nashed admitted he had bribed one of the jurors $50,000 to vote not guilty during his trial).When Nash was retried the next year he given a full acquittal. 
May 1982 
There were unexplained fires at several of Nash owned properties- including the Starwood. Nash was charged with an arson-for-profit scheme in order to collect insurance money. Nash was aquitted. 
John Holmes was acquitted in involvement with the Wonderland Avenue murders. 
He refused to talk about who actually committed the killings. 
September 1982
Eddie Nash went to trial. At the time he displayed symptoms of schizophrenic like psychoses associated with heavy use of cocaine. Nash admitted to using at least three ounces of cocaine a day.
During six or seven years of heavy drug use Nash's business empire crumbled.  
October 1982
Nash was convicted of possession of narcotics. 
November 1982
While in jail waiting to be sentensed,  Nash's the Studio City home was burglarized and a 60 pound floor safe stolen. 

John Holmes finally talked. He tells the grand jury about what he knew about the unsolved Wonderland Murder case. He implicates Eddie Nash as instigating the botched robbery rob. 

Eddie Nash received an 8 year term.
August 1984
Nash's sentence was cut in half. Nash needed an operation to remove a sinus tumor.
He was said to be a model prisoner. 

Eddie Nash was released in November 1984.   John Holmes died of aids in 1988.

In 2001 
Nash was brought to the Superior Court for racketeering, tax evasion and drug charges.  He had tuberculosis and emphysema at the time.  He admitted to bribing the hold-out juror in 1991 trial,  racketeering charges,  and admitted he sent men to the Wonderland house to rob them out of retalliation. However, he said he did not order anyone to be killed. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. He was paroled after serving a fraction of the time sentenced. 
He is currently a free man living in L.A. He still has real estate holdings in Hollywood, including the Seven Seas Building across from the Chinese Theater.
When the Starwood shut down in 1981, it marked the end of the golden days of the L.A. club scene. 

However, many of the best bands from these days had graduated and were now on the national stage, including -  the Go-Go's. 


Anonymous said...

I used to book bands all over L.A. and had personal dealings with Eddie Nash. He was by far the SCARIEST individual I ever dealt with. He and his entourage were intimidating and always, always high. Just thinking about Nash gives me shudders. I'm posting anonymously given that he's still alive!

The fact is a number of great bands performed at the Starwood, and one, Van Halen was signed after WB execs came to see them perform. It's too bad the place went out like it did, but frankly it was well-deserved.

Anonymous said...

I went to see Journey play there in 1975....that was a great show and there music kicked butt. Lived in Fullerton and they next thing you know, I was living in Hollywood at Western and Santa Monica Blvd. We had a studio there for my older brothers band called "PANIC". Danger Productions was looking to get them signed and they played at Gazzari's...and had the power shut off after 2 songs??? Assholes! Starwood was a tough place to get booked at. I put on a concert with PANIC opening up for AMBROSIA out in Riverside, CA at Raincross Square. People were coming to see PANIC from ICM...International Corporation of Management...the same place that we booked Ambrosia from and from what I heard, they got arrested for Cocaine possession. Go figure...That was 1976...? Another story of unsuccessful ambitions!!! PANIC music kicked ass!!!

Anonymous said...

I saw many punk shows there in the early 80's including Darby's last show. One of my favorite shows I remember was seeing The Go Go's there on Halloween. We were triping on acid, it was surreal with all the punk costumes!

Noel Franklin said...

I'm trying to do a story on Club Lingerie, do you have any info? I can be reached at m.noel.franklin at

Anonymous said...

I saw Detective, John Mayall, Van Halen and the Runaways there in 1977. Would have liked to stay in Hollywood but the place was being taken over by street gangs then and I left to come back to Toronto...

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember seeing this girl around in 1980-1982 Laureen Ann Rahn!!!

karasu said...

i would love to find adel nasrallah :)

Anonymous said...


s. .giustino said...

Thanks for the great, detailed history. The Starwood was a huge & significant part of my life after working there from 1973 to 78. Stefan

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