Monday, December 15, 2008

Perkins Palace

The GoGos played Perkin's Palace on March 20, 1981 
129 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena CA

Jensen's Raymond Theatre
The theater at 129 N. Raymond Avenue was originally known as the Jensen's Raymond Theatre. It was built by the German immigrant Henry C. Jensen (& Sons) who was a mason and in the brick manufacturing business. 

Jensen's Raymond Theatre

The 1,800 seat theater officially opened in 1921 and staged popular vaudeville shows. Recently the gracious Raymond Theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Nice bricks


Jensen & Sons built several other heavy on the bricks  buildings in the L.A. area including the Jenson's Recreation Center on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park. 

Jensen's Recreation Center - Echo Park

With the cool sign on top

In 1948 Jensen's Raymond Theater was sold to Crown Holding Corporation and renamed Lowe's Crown Theatre. It operated as the Crown Theater until 1974 when was then sold to Dr. Nathan Roth (father of rocker David Lee Roth). 

As the theater looked in the '70's

Unfortunately, in the 1970's the surrounding Pasadena old town neighborhood was in declined. Many of the old retail buildings along Colorado Boulevard were boarded up. The theater finally closed down in 1976.

Perkins Palace
In 1979 the old Raymond Theater was purchased by Marc Perkins.  Perkins was a former investment counselor. He and his brother Jim believed the old theater had potential for a mid size concert venue. They partnered with then Loyola law student Mark Garagos and renamed the theater Perkins Palace. 

Note: Mark Garagos went on to become a high profile Los Angeles defense lawyer (think Scott Petersen, Michael Jackson).

Pasadena was considered off the beaten path to open a rock venue.  Located about 15 miles northeast of Hollywood,  Pasadena had a reputation as an enclave of old stodgy people.  Many people in Hollywood never went to Pasadena and vice versa. 

In the  '70's this part of old town Pasadena was not the bustling and trendy place it is today. Most of the old buildings (and inhabitants) were run down and derelict - including the old Raymond Theater. 

The Raymond Theatre was located about two block north of the then seedy Colorado Boulevard and across the street from the neglected and scary Memorial Park. 

 Pasadena's beautiful City Hall

 Memorial Park is across the street from the Raymond Theater

The theater today,  looking south down Raymond Ave. Next door north is  the Armory Center for the Arts

Former Perkins Palace (Raymond Theater)  as it appears today

But - Pasadena  did have the honor of being home to the quirky underground radio station KPPC-FM 106.7 between 1967 and 1971. KPPC FM had a free-form presentation and broadcasted a wide range of off-beat music and featured counter culture personalities such as Michael McKean, Harry Shearer David Lander and Dr. Demento. This was probably the coolest radio station L.A. ever had. R.I.P. KPPC.
In 1973, KROQ took over the former KPPC-FM 106.7 radio station in Pasadena.  The fledgling KROQ got off to a very roq-ky start and even shut down for a couple years. Then, in 1976 KROQ-FM  reemerged with new management, staff, and  personalities. But it still struggled to find it's voice and and capture a loyal audience. 

In 1981 everything came together.  KROQ-FM decided to go Top 40 New Wave. This format quickly connected with the younger audience. For young ears this music was fresh, fun and exciting. The music rotation was heavy on all the cutting edge new wave bands coming out of Britain. And there was nothing else like it on the radio. It featured bands such as the Clash, the Waitresses, Adam and the Ants, U-2, the Knack and our own Go-Go's. 

KROQ zoomed up in ratings. It was suddenly rated  #2 in the youth market. 

Perkins Palace

At first Perkins had a wide booking policy of new and established  acts. 
1980 - bands that played at Perkins included:

Weather Report (Feb 22)
Leon Russell
Ronnie Laws Music Center
Smokey Robinson
Air Supply
Dave Mason
Roberta Flack
Oingo Boingo, Sumner, Shandi and the Heaters (Oct 31)
the Tempatations
the Vapors
Oingo Boing, Suburban Lawns (New Years Eve)

In the fall of 1980, Perkins Palace switched to a new band new wave policy. In doing so, Perkins became the perfect outlet for a slew of New Wave bands coming to the USA to show off their chops. Pasadena's Perkins Palace and KROQ-FM became the L.A. theater of this new wave of a British invasion

Between 1981 and 1983  Perkins Palace turned sleepy Pasadena into a hot bed of rock. 
The Starwood in Hollywood closed down in early 1981. It's closer left a void for mid-size rock venue (1,000 +/- seat).

Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club in Reseda was another popular mid size suburban venue at this time.

Perkins Palace became a great alternative venue. It was a cool and historic theater with comfortable seats, great sight lines and easy parking. 

Perkins Palace worked closely with KROQ-FM to see which new bands generated the best response. Perkins Palace would host new bands getting lots of radio play on KROQ. Indeed, many shows presented at the Palace were presented in association with KROQ. 

1981 KROQ/Perkins, Perkins, Garagos Presents 

In 1981, Perkins Palace became the regular stopping point for hip British bands

Tonio K
Rubber City Rebels
Bobby & the Midnighters
X, Suburban Lawns, Alley Cats, Human Hands (Feb 20th)
Gary Myrick
the Plimsouls
Wall of Voodoo
the GoGo's - March 20th sold out show
Air Supply
Adam and the Ants
Surf Punks
Fabulous Thunderbirds
Romeo Void
Naughty Sweeties
Phil Seymour
Joe Cocker
Tommy Tutone
Billy and the Beaters
the Dickies
Missing Persons
Tine Turner
Gang of Four
Stiff Little Finger
Joe Jackson
Dave Mason
the Cure
the Ramones
the Tubes
Joan Jett & the Blackheart
Gary U.S. Bonds
Kim Carnes
English Beat
Bruce Springsteen
New Order
the Specials
Siouxsie & the Banshees
Todd Rundgren
Joy Division
King Crimson

In 1982 Perkins hired concert promoter Gina Zamparelli to help book and manage the place.
Perkins now worked with L.A. concert promoters Avalon Attractions and other radio stations such as KLOS and KMET in presenting shows. 

Rickie Lee Jones
Pointer Sisters
Missing Persons
Pete Shelly
Depeche Mode
the Jam
Human League
Flock of Seagulls
Joe Cocker
Bow Wow Wow
John Waite
Talking Heads
Gang of Four
Gary Numan
Wall of Voodoo
Motley Crue
At this Perkins Palace started to lose business to the newly opened Palace Theater in Hollywood (1,100 capacity)  and the Beverly Theater (1,400 capacity) on Canon Drive, BHs.
Psychodelic Furs
Los Lobos
Modern English
Laurie Anderson
Simple Minds
Thompson Twins
Quiet Riot
Toy Dolls
Social Distortion 
Black Flag
Nick Cave
Leon Russell
The theater was also used for several movies, including: This is Spinal Tap, Pulp Fiction, the Rose and the Bodyguard. 

R.I.P. Raymond Theater
Then, in 1985  Marc Perkins closed down the theater. He sold it to property developers Gene and Marilyn Buchanan who intended to build apartments and retail on the site.  For over 20 years this proposal was fought by historic preservationist, primarily a group called Friends of the Raymond, a community based non profit organization headed by Gina Zamparelli. 

However, preservationist finally lost their battle.  The interior of the old theater has pretty much been gutted and work is underway to adapt the historic theater into another retail/commercial/office/housing space. They say steps are being made to save the facade and historic interior elements as a remembrance for what was once a great theater. 


Anonymous said...

Oh the memories, my first concert was at Perkin's Palace, I think I was 17 and went to see Suburban Lawns, KROQ back then was like a religion, thanks for posting this and bringing back so many memories, I can even smell how Perkin's Palace smelled that night, LOL.

exTecher said...

Joy Division in 1981??? I don't think so.
I went to the New Order show at Perkins, with the B-People opening, 9 November 1981. The crowd was quite sparse for this one, although I have met many people since who claimed to be at this show.
Saw the Ramones there, with Holly and the Italians as the opener, also in 1981.
The Adam and the Ants Kings of the Wild Frontier show was quite memorable, I remember standing stage left in front of enormous Marco, playing guitar in his pirate suit.
The Jam show in 1982 was a classic as well.
Good times

exTecher said...

Correction: the New Order/BPeople show was 6 November 1981

Anonymous said...

I went to many shows at the sadly missed Perkins Palace. Does anyone know of a certain person, or other resource I can contact or look through to find out what dates certain concerts occurred on? I am compiling a list of all the shows I've gone to, and many, especially the more obscure bands I saw at Perkins, are very hard to find.

For instance, I saw a Japanese band named The Plastics there. I saw The Unknowns there. I saw Eye Protection there (my fist concert ever - I won the tickets from KROQ)

Please email me here if you can help:


Anonymous said...

i was at that GO-Go's show. It was a madhouse!!!

Anonymous said...

The New Order show at Perkins was not sparse. It was sold out. Few arrived for the tepid B People opening set, but it was packed for New Order.