The Cuckcoo's Nest was located at 1714 Placentia, Costa Mesa. The age limit was 18 (although ID's were rarely checked).
Costa Mesa is located in Orange County, about 50 miles south of Hollywood.
Between 1978 to 1981 the Cockoo's Nest was the biggest punk venue in Orange County. Here club manager Jerry Roach presented both touring and local rock talent. It claimed to have the world's first mosh pit for those wanting to mosh it up.
1981 photo: Daily Pilot
The barn-shaped building on Placentia Avenue went through several incarnations before it became the Cuckoo's Nest.
The Player's Showcase
The building (built in 1958) was originally used a small playhouse called The Player's Showcase. A community theater group called the Newport Harbor Community Players staged plays here. Performances included; A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Mame, Desk Set, Mr. Roberts, Gigi, Curious Savage, Holiday For Lovers, Light Up the Skies, Marriage Go Round, Matchmaker, the Cocktail Party, Rainmaker and the Picnic ... as well as melodrama's.
In 1963 the playhouse operated as the the Gaslight Theater. It showed old-time silent comedies before presenting a musical comedy production of the famous temperance novel Ten Nights in a Bar-Room.
In the mid '60's the theater operated as a psychedelic parlor called Finnegan's Rainbow before it became a biker bar.
The Cuckcoo's Nest
In 1976 Jerry Roach leased the property at 1714 Placentia Avenue and opened up a nightclub called the Cuckcoo's Nest. The Cuckoo's Nest was located in Costa Mesa's old industrial sector at 17th Street and Placentia Avenue. Needless to say in the late 1970's this was the more gritty part of town.
The Nest started off as a typical beer bar with live rock music.
It was next door to a cowboy restaurant/bar called Zubies. They shared a parking lot in back.
Orange County was starved for a live music venue. The only other live rock venue in town was the Golden Bear on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. But the beloved 'Bear' tended to present more straight rock and new wave live music.
In 1977 Jerry Roach started to present live punk rock music on Sunday nights. He felt that punk music was only exciting thing happening in music..
Over the next two years the Cuckoo's Nest slowly offered more and more live punk music. Three nights a week was devoted to punk, the other nights was straight rock and roll.
Jerry Roach would became known as Orange County's godfather of punk.
Jerry Roach would staged a battle of the bands every Sunday afternoon and books many of his acts from that showcase. Several local Orange County bands that played the Nest included;
the Fury's, Eddie & the Subtitles, Middle Class, Mechanics and the Crowd.
1979 - sample of shows
The RamonesNew York DollsIggy PopSocial DistortionT.S.O.L.the DickiesRed CrossMinute MenX, Big Wowthe ChiefsWeirdos, Geza X & the Mommymen20/2045 GraveSkinJohn CaleContinental Miniatures,Bad Moon, Snowthe NewsJohn Q. Public, Daily PlanetShake, Just UsShey, the PressHeroThe Wortzthe HurtSilencersHooker, the Strand, Back StreetCretonsthe Damed, Paul Warren, John Doe999SqueezeBlue Moon, XcalibarBad MoonSVTRhino 39, the PressDead KennedysJoe Dog, the ClanFacelift, Axis Sally, Lippsthe Blasters, Lace, FortuneLazerthe Readymades, Bates Motel, the Fury'sPere Ubu, FalconNeophonics, Bullet BoysMagazineLevi and the RockatsBilly BrightRed ShiftEddie and the Hot RodsFashion, Fly BoysHollandCrowd, Suburban Lawns
The Damed at the Cuckoo's Nest in 1979
L.A. Times ad
1980 - sample of shows
John Calethe Newzthe Plimsouls, Robert Stoddard Bandthe IllusionsMobiusBlack FlagRed CrossSubhumansBerlinWall of VoodooKingbees, Automatic PilotRubber City RebelsDick StewartNu-Beams, BarbiesGlass AxeSelecter, Jack MillerAmerican Garage Band, Straight LaceSteppes, Automatic Pilots, Citizen Kanethe Crampsthe Blastersthe Rebel RockersNew Town HerosWild Card, FinesseContrabandGreat LegacyBig Beat, Riff Raffthe JetzNick Brighton, PhantomBox Boysthe ZippersLevi and the Rockatsthe Motelsthe CrowdMo-DettesAgent Orange, the GearsUXA, China WhiteAdolescentsCircle JerksPegasusEddie and the SubtitlesSubhumansPlugz, Middle Classthe GoGo's! (July 12, 1980 w/ the Blasters)
In the early 1980's the club was offering punk rock nearly every night to crowds who packed the house.
By 1981, the original '70's punk music scene had gone hard core. Few of the original LA punk bands were still playing regularly. Punk was now rough and tough, aggressive and confrontational.
The Cuckoo's Nest was having trouble with it's neighbors, particularly with the urban cowboy club next door called Zubies. The two establishments shared a parking lot in back. Between 1978 and 1981 there were constant clashes between the patrons of the two clubs - and confrontations with the police.
The Cuckoo's Nest became the target of a 12 member police task force. It drew more citizen complaints than any other nightclub in the city. One night in Oct 1980 - 90 arrest were made in the general area of the Cuckoo's Nest.
In January 1981 a Cuckcoo's Nest patron tried to run over two police officers in the parking lot. The Costa Mesa City Council revoked the Cuckoo's Nests live entertainment permit.
Neighbors near the Cuckoo's nest complained about the unruly patrons, noise and damage to their property. They accused the owners of not controlling customer behavior.
In February of 1981 the Cuckoo's Nest lost a court bid to regain its live entertainment license. The Costa Mesa City Council stated that some of the club's patrons had carried out violent acts and damaged adjoining property, threw bottles, broke windows and did graffiti. There was underage drinking in and out of the club. (The Starwood in West Hollywood was experiencing similar complaints and was consequently closed down).
The Cuckoo's Nest re-opened a few months later, but it was never the same. Dancing was not allowed. It struggled along until it finally closed for good in December 1981. It reopened in 1982 as the Concert Factory under new management.
Eventually it was taken over by Zubies and turned into Zubie's Pizza Parlor.
Jerry Roach went on to open a new club in Anaheim called Radio City which showcased more tame new wave, rockabily and rock 'n' roll acts.
The Cuckcoo's Nest and Zubies properties were eventually torn down. Hank's Electrical Supplies now occupies at the site.