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Sunset Strip Music Festival

by by Big Al Bowman Saturday, Jul. 12, 2008 at 2:49 AM

When I first heard about this event, I thought to myself," it's about time." After all, the Sunset Strip is the biggest thing in the musical universe. More rock music legends have come out of that location than any other place on earth, so why not have a festival to celebrate it's greatness?

Sunset Strip Music F...
al_larry.jpg, image/jpeg, 172x216

My strongest inclination was to experience the first day event at House of Blues hosted by one of my favorite LA Music Awards alumni Mark McGrath. Upon arrival at the event I saw Mario Maglieri hanging out with his entire family downstairs near the stage. Within minutes, in walks Slash and some of the staff from the Whisky. They sat down in the V.I.P. area along with Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips and their families. Then, in comes Elmer Valentine rolling in a wheel chair. It was a sad sight to behold, that's for sure. He is in his mid 80's now, and appears to be in very poor health.

Once the ceremony got under way, the room came alive. Mark McGrath proved to be a quite capable host, garnering laughs from the crowd with every introduction. First came Cheech Marin with Tommy Chong. It was the first time these two had been together on stage like this in nearly a decade. Hilarious is the only way to describe their diatribe. Slash was next and came up to the podium, cigarette in hand and told his story of being booted out of the Rainbow by Mario many years ago and how he had to dress like woman to gain secret entry back in to the place. Then came Michelle Phillips, who it appeared may have had one too many cocktails before the show. After that, all of the Godfather's received special awards from the mayor of West Hollywood. Ironically, each of the awards fell apart once they were in the hands of the recipients. Still, it was a memorable spectacle to see all three of these visionaries sharing the stage at this venue. I will always treasure this memory.

Two days later, it was time for the Round Table discussion with Larry King over at the London West Hotel, formerly know as the Belage. I was aware that there would be a Q&A session at this event, so I was ready to give Bill Gazzarri his due. Up to this point, not even a mention had been made of him, so as the legitimate Godson of Rock ' Roll, I felt it was my divine duty to make sure that his legacy was recognized as well. Once Larry King walked in, the crowd broke in to applause after a stellar introduction by Tommy Nast, the festival's main organizer. On the panel to start were Lou Adler and Mario. Clearly, Mario brought his comic side with him, getting laughs from the crowd with almost every remark. He told many stories of Sunset Strip lore as did Lou Adler. It was one of the most entertaining events I have ever been to and and quite informative as well. After about thirty minutes Larry introduced the "next generation" of the Sunset Strip as he called them. They were Mikael Maglieri, Nick Adler, owner of the and Harry Morton, new owner of the Viper Room. I have to say that I was not too impressed with the so called "next generation" of Sunset Strip icons. Except for Mario's son, the others seemed arrogant and out of touch. Clearly, they lacked the humility of their predecessors and did not instill much faith in me that they would be able to continue to carry the torch that was lit by their fathers. Call me "old school" if you like, but I just cannot bear to think that the future of our beloved Sunset Strip is in the hands of what I feel to be less than capable individuals. I have a valid explanation of this legitimate concern, but this is not the proper forum for that discussion.

Near the end of the discussion, I managed to get a big round of applause for the legacy of Bill Gazzarri, albeit to the chagrin of Mario and Lou. For what ever reasons, they clearly did not want Bill mentioned at this event. Doug Weston did not receive any mentions either, although he certainly would have to be considered as a Godfather of the Sunset Strip himself. How soon we forget those who have paved the way for so many.

Over all, the inaugural Sunset Strip Music Festival was a resounding success. I am excited that I will get to be a part of it in the future. I made some great new friends and hooked up with some old one's as well. Kudos to Tommy Nast and Karmen Beck for doing a magnificent job on this event. It was well worth attending.

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Al, Lou and Mario

by by Big Al Bowman Saturday, Jul. 12, 2008 at 2:49 AM

Al, Lou and Mario...
al_lou_mario.jpg, image/jpeg, 216x124

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Al and Mark

by by Big Al Bowman Saturday, Jul. 12, 2008 at 2:49 AM

Al and Mark...
mark_al.jpg, image/jpeg, 251x216

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