Monday, September 12, 2005

Fender's, i miss you so...

i'm from long beach, california and a big part of my musical upbringing was brought about by a place we called fender's. fender's international grand ballroom to be exact. this place was seminal place in the southern california punk and new music scene. it was where everybody played when they hit long beach. why so cool? why such a big fuss? well... let's just say it was our gillman street, our cbgb's, the whisky south. long beach is to L.A. as brooklyn is to manhattan. at least it was.

this is how went down as far as i know ...

in 1922 the lafayette hotel was buit in downtown long beach. its splender stood un soiled untill the mid fifties. in 1956, to expand with the times they put on the addition of the Fender's Grand International Ballroom where the garage stood on the adjacent corner. the fender family sported the bill and got the signage cred.

fender's was firmly planted on the corner of first and linden in the art deco area of the outter downtown zone. it bobbed along in the ocean of popular music until the seventies when john fender and ken phebus got ahold of it and brought down the house with big name acts in the blues, jazz, and popular rock and roll. this went on for a while until the the eighties.

long beach took a bit of a beating in the eighties. crack and the gang culture plus the crappy way that reagan and his cronies treated the economy had turned downtown into a bit of a scabby place. much like santa monica in the 70's we also had a pier amusement park on the water that was decaying and becoming a dead area. fenders no longer had the draw of huge bands and acts anymore and soon fell into the hands of NEW music promoters. this was when things got good.

when punk rock and the alternative scene hit the shitty stage at the now rundown and crappy fender's it ushered in a new era of rock and roll for the LBC. acts like janes addiction, minor threat, operation ivy, D.O.A., the chili peppers (w/ hilel too!), fishbone, bad brains, and everybody else who was an alternative musical icon showed up there and it was heaven. all ages shows were the name of the game and they were always great. lets not forget about all the metal and other dark shit that went on there. i wasnt a metal'er then so it did not concern me but it was good that it had a place to be.

all was going well until the lafayette bulding wich had brought forth this awesome mistake waqs now bent on taking it away. granted there were some mini-riots, loud patrons and general bullshit, but it was still the spot to be at when a band came to town. around 1989 it shut its doors forever and went out with a bang and a GWAR show. very fitting.

not soon after that it burned to the ground. sad sad sad. the lot still sits there in quiet tribute to the scorched earth theory of punk rock. gotta love it.

photo above )))
left ken phebus & john fender.
center the remains of fender's after the fire.
right the lafayette building being built.