- September 18, 1979
9039 Sunset Boulevard
Former site of Gazzarri's nightclub
9039 Sunset Boulevard
September 20, 1979Los Angeles Times
Two Local Bands Making Progress
by Richard Cromelin
Excerpt from article...
More signs of continuing good health on the local-band circuit......Some of the promising groups of long standing now have worked their way through performance difficulties to claim a share of the action... At Gazzarri's...the GoGo have made remarkable strides, transforming itself from an all-girl novelty into one of L.A.'s most entertaining party bands.
Gazzarri's on La Cienega
Gazzarri's was originally located on L.A.'s Restaurant Row. Restaurant Row is a stretch of La Cienega Boulevard that runs through Beverly Hills and Los Angeles between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard.
Restaurant Row Restaurants included:
- Webster's - 270 S. La Cienega Bl
- Captain's Table - 301 S. La Cienega Bl
- Wilson's Steak House - 350 S. La Cienega Bl
- McHenry's Tail o' the Cock - 477 S. La Cienega Bl
- San Francisco Joe's - 38 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- Lawry's Prime Prime Rib - 55 N. La Cienega Bl, BH
- Ollie Hammond Steak House BH -91 N. La Cienega Bl
- Sarnez Restaurnt- 107 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- Steer's for Steaks - 116 N. La Cienega Bl
- Miceli's Pizza House - 127 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- Bob Dalton's Steak House - 133 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- Richlor's Restaurant - 134 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- The Coffee Pot Cafe - 153 N. La Cienega Bl
- Smokey Joe's Restaurant - 157 N. La Cienega Bl
- Huddle Restaurant - 163 N. La Cienega Bl BH
- Beefeater Inn - 170 N. La Cienega Bl
- Burger Barn - 316 N. La Cienega Bl
- Terra Bella Restaurant - 364 N. La Cienega Bl
- Johnny Wilson's Ready Room Restaurant
- Islander Restaurant - 385 N. La Cienega Bl
- Ernest's Restaurant - 401 N. La Cienega Bl
- Bantam Cock Restaurant 643 N. La Cienega Bl
- Encore Restaurant - 806 N. La Cienega Bl
- Red Snapper 826 N. La Cienega Bl
- Skipper Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel - 826 N. La Cienega Bl
- Dell's Restaurant - 826 N. La Cienega Bl
- Blue Boar - 848 N. La Cienega Bl
There were also a few less pricey restaurants on La Cienega Blvd., such as - Delores Drive-in (Wilshire and La Cienega), Ed Debevic's (134 N. La Cienega Blvd), Tail of the Pup (311 N. La Cienega) and Norm's at 470 N. La Cienega).
2008 photo: tlc
Nico Charisse Studios
Before Gazzarri moved in at 319 N. La Cienega Boulevard, the place was occupied by the Nico Charisse Dance Studio. Nico Charisse was quite a famous dancer in his day. He was married to an even more famous dancer - Cyd Charisse. She was one of America's most talented dancer in Hollywood.
In the 1930's, Nico Charisse taught dance in Hollywood at 1358 N. La Brea. One of his students was 12 year old Tula Finklea a.k.a Cyd Charisse. They eloped in 1939 while in France - she was only 17. They have one son together (Nicky). Their marriage ended in divorce in 1947.
Cyd Charise later married singer Tony Martin. She went on to have a very successful career dancing in movies.
Cyd with Fred Astaire
In 1953 Nico, age 46, married another student of his, Zita Torres, age 26. He continued to coach number of entertainers in dance during his years in Hollywood.
Nico Charisse died in 1970 at age 64. Syd Charisse died in 2008 at age 86.
In 1962, the first Gazzarri's opened at 319 N. La Cienega (NWC of Beverly) as a small Italian restaurant which featured live vocal entertainment. Mama Gazzarri previously cook her tasty Italian food at a speakeasy on Bleeker St., New York.
Gazzarri's Super Club on La Cienega was like a small version P.J.'s. on Santa Monica Boulevard. Gazzarri's featured live entertainment with vocalist such as Vikki Carr. Gazzarri's was the first to hire Johnny Rivers as a house singer.
Original location of Gazzarri's at the NWC La Cienega and Beverly
'60's Dance Craze
In February 1964 the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and became a global phenomenon. Suddenly every kid on the block was in a rock band.
The early 1960's saw the end of the Hollywood Supper Clubs with headwaiters serving rich patrons in formal attire. By 1964 most guest would arrive at small clubs dutch, casually dressed without a lot of money.
1962-64 was the year of the discotheque. Dance clubs offered loud, canned go-go music, - and teenagers were all crazy about new go-go beat. Young people wanted a place where they could do the Twist, Watsui and Frug.
Gazzarri's Sunset Strip
When the Twist craze took over the nation, Bill Gazzarri took notice. In 1965 Gazzarri purchased a small restaurant previously called the Comedians located at 9039 Sunset Boulevard. After some remodeling, he transformed it into the swingingest rock 'n roll dinery in the neighborhood.
However, it continued to served the same Italian dinners made famous by Mama Gazzarri at the original Gazzarri's on La Cienega.
When Garrarri opened his twist club in May 1965 it was called Hollywood a Go-Go. Gazzarri's was associated with Hollywood A Go Go, a local music TV show on KHJ-TV Channel 9.
Popular dances at the time were; the Swim, Frug, Monkey, Pony and the Jerk.
Gazzarri's Hollywood A Go Go opened with the Sinners and the Vendells along with Gazzarri Dancers.
Gazzarri's on Sunset Blvd. before the second story was added
For awhile there were 2 Gazzarri's!
Gazzarri's on the Sunset Strip had a raised dance floor, a split level stage and an elaborate lighting system. The dance club featured live musicians on the stage with recorded music (canned) used for dancing during breaks taken my the musicians.
At first, Gazzarri's had a minimum age was 18. However, each night a certain number of minors would be let in and they were placed on one side of the dance floor. Adults were to stay on the other side. (yeah, right)
Bill Gazzarri would take color movies of dancers in action and then show them on screens the next day placed on either sides of the dance floor. People would come back to the club hoping to see themselves dancing on the big screen.
1964 photo: Los Angeles Times
9039 Sunset Boulevard's Previous Tenants
Before it became Gazzarri's - 9039 Sunset Boulevard housed a slew of small supper clubs and eateries - including;
- Cafe Lamaze in the '30's
- Biarritz Restaurant '40's
- King's Club '40's
- Sherry's restaurant '40's
- Jack Denison's Golden Slipper '50's
- Plymouth Restaurant early '60's
- Comedians '60's
Teenagers infiltrate the Strip
By 1960 most of the old supper clubs along the strip were gone. Old lounge acts hightailed it to Vegas where it was financially more lucrative.
The old clubs along the Sunset Strip became a haven for the young and hip to hang out. At first they congregated at coffee shops, underground theaters and jazz joints. In 1963-64, the Sunset Strip turned into a meeting place for beatniks in leather jackets and stretch pants who Watusi, Jerked and Mashed Potatoed the night away.
With the Beatle invasion in 1964, teens migrated in mass to clubs that played the new rock sound with the groovy dance beat.
Every teen age boy dreamed of being in a rock n' roll band.
Suddenly there were a slew of twist clubs in town catering to the young 16-and-up crowd. These clubs included: the Peppermint West in Hollywood, the Whisky A Go-Go, the Galaxy (8717 Sunset), P.J.'s (8151 Santa Monica), the Action (8265 W Santa Monica), the Haunted House (6315 Hollywood Blvd), the Crescendo (8572 Sunset) and It's Boss (former Ciro's restaurant (8433 Sunset Blvd).
They served soft drinks with hamburgers and hot dogs.
The Teenage Menace
In 1966 Gazzarri's - several of the dance clubs along the Sunset Strip got into a row with local authorities regarding all the teenagers running amok along the Sunset Strip. They accused club owners of contributing to juvenile delinquency in the area. They claimed teens were wreaking havoc and scared off the established merchants and customers along the Strip.
The L.A. County Sheriff department responded by cracking down and arresting teenagers by the truckload for curfew violations.
This all came to a head on November 12, 1966 near a rock club called Pandora's Box (on Sunset near Crescent Heights) where about 1,000 teenagers were demonstrating.
To deal with the teenage menace, in 1966 the Board of Supervisors voted to abolish all so -called youth dance permits in clubs in the unincorporated areas of the county of Los Angeles. This denied youths under 21 the right to dance in clubs.
In response Gazzarri's applied to become topless joint - much to the neighborhood's dismay. However, since there was no on-site parking, the request was denied.
In March of 1967 Gazzarri's and the Whisky sought new licenses to operate. The policy was: since it was a restaurant, any age could enter, one had to be 17 to dance, 21 to drink and there was two drink minimum in the bar for adults. This was they how they continued to operate.
February 1967 a jazz rock group called the Doors opened at Gazzarri's. The Doors would become the darlings of the Sunset Strip.
Gazzarri's in the '70's & '80's
Another band who frequently played Gazzarri's before hitting it big was Van Halen. Van Halen played here frequently between 1974 and 1976.
In the '80, Gazzarri's became a favorite hang-out for glam metal bands with the big hair- such as Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinerella and Quiet Riot and all their followers.
source: 1986 Los Angeles Times/UCLA archives
In 1991 Bill Gazzarri died. Gazzarri's closed down in 1992. In 1994 Northridge Earthquake damaged Gazzarri's beyond repair and it was torn down.
RIP Bill Gazzarri
The Key Club now stands at the location once occupied by Gazzarri's. It is a pay to play club today - just like the Whisky and the Roxy.
2008 photo: tlc