Palomino Club (North Hollywood)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Palomino Club was a music venue in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. It opened in 1949 and was the best-known country music club in Los Angeles for decades, closing in 1995.[1] It was called "Country Music's most important West Coast club" by the Los Angeles Times and named national Club of the Year by "Performance" touring talent trade magazine. It featured such performers as the Everly Brothers, Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Delaney Bramlett, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Johnny Carver, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hoyt Axton, Tanya Tucker, and Willie Nelson,[2] and was also a popular hangout for other country entertainers such as Merle Haggard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis played there at least once a year from 1957 to 1987. Elvis Presley at least once strolled in unheralded and took in a set.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Palomino began to feature more rock acts, including many artists associated with SST Records.


1950s and 1960s[edit]

Originally a "rather tough beer bar,"[3] the Palomino, located at 6907 Lankershim Boulevard, was founded by Western swing bandleader Hank Penny and his business partner Amand Gautier, had originally opened the club around 1949-50 as the Palomino. Penny even staged "jazz nights" there where West Coast jazz musicians could come to jam. It was leased in 1952[3] by Bill and Tom Thomas of Indiana, who later bought the club. The club received a further boost in 1959 when the major country music showcase Riverside Rancho in the Silver Lake neighborhood shut down, leaving the various performers it had hosted available for the Palomino. In the early 1970s, the club could seat 400 attendees. [1]

The Palomino Club was notable because in addition to being the San Fernando Valley's premier night club, it was a neighborhood working class bar (opening at 6am with a happy hour from 8am to 10am.) The Palomino Club bar stayed open during afternoon sound checks so regular customers and the artists' fans could see the bands preparing and rehearsing the evening's show for free. Often the artists' showed appreciation for the fans by performing impromptu mini-concerts to standing ovations. The Palomino's dressing rooms and backstage areas were generally open to the public. Fans could ask if the artists were receiving visitors and most artists welcomed them, gladly signing autographs, etc. During the '50s and '60s, almost every notable country and western artist played there, but in the early '70s, The Palomino started letting the longhaired rock 'n' rollers on stage.

Rock and Roll era[edit]

In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, The Palomino Club was home to the "Cow Punk" variety of country rock, breaking in acts like Freddie Brown, Rosie Flores, Lone Justice, Tex & The Horseheads, and The Long Ryders. Many famous artists like The Flying Burrito Brothers and Dwight Yoakam, played early dates there as warm-up acts. (Dwight opened for Carla Olson & the Textones for example.) Emmylou Harris and her Hot Band regularly sold out the house. Novel acts like Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys played there. Lyle Lovett was a regular.

Special event concerts by artists including Elvis Costello and Neil Young created sensational disturbances in the neighborhood with huge crowds outside and resulting media attention.

Unannounced guests routinely joined artists onstage for duets or jam sessions. One night George Harrison, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan joined Jesse Ed Davis and Taj Mahal onstage for an improvised mini-set of some of their hits.

Frank Czarnecki and Danny Jones,The A Team, were famous doormen at the Palomino.

Other Rock and Roll era alumni include The Everly Brothers, Phil Seymour, The Pretenders, Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Harrison, The Plimsouls, Wednesday Week, Half Way Home, Bo Diddley, The Outlaws, The Motels, The Blasters, Albert King, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Quiet Riot featuring Randy Rhoads, and Canned Heat.

In the 1970s, Rockabilly artist Jackie Lee Waukeen Cochran with Jim King on organ and bass and Robert Huber on drums and vocals could be seen once every three months. Also in the early 1970s, the country rock group called TEX with Michael Martin Murphy, bass and vocals, Owens Boomer Castleman, lead guitar and vocals, Herb Stiner, steel guitar, and Stoney Stonecipher (J.D. Stone), drums and vocals, performed, until the group split in the late 1970s.

The Palomino featured the "World Famous Palomino Talent Show" once a week, where many up and coming acts performed on their way to fame. The talent show eventually became a contest similar to "America's Got Talent". In its final years, the Palomino Talent Show was produced and hosted by Allan Austin (aka Allan Oolo) who brought in local Celebrity Judges every week and found sponsors to provide prizes for the winners. The house band was The Austin Rangers, consisting of Allan Austin, Roger Wynfield, Mark Creamer, Roy Norris and Dave Olson.

The Palomino also hosted various political fundraising events, most notably for California Gov. Jerry Brown's senatorial campaign in 1982.

The club hosted a punk show on December 28, 1992 headlined by Green Day, and featuring Jughead's Revenge, Scared Straight, and Strung Out.


After the death of both original owners, Billy and Tommy Thomas (due to congenital cardiac defects), the club struggled with Tommy's wife Sherry, a former Palomino waitress, in charge. The Palomino could not maintain the earlier momentum, as it became economically strapped and was no longer able to attract high caliber acts in such a small venue. On the club's last night in business in 1995, three blues acts from southern California closed the Palomino — Jimmy O, Blue By Nature, and Stevi Lynn & Bordercrossing.[2]

Sign displayed at the Valley Relics Museum

After the closure, The Palomino Club's large exterior neon sign went missing and was thought to have been lost, until the sign resurfaced in a warehouse in Chatsworth in 2014. Scott McNatt, the owner of the sign, realizing the sign's historical significance, contacted a historian and preservationist named Tommy Gelinas to save and restore the sign. The Palomino's neon has been restored and is currently on display at the Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth, California[4]

Movie and Television appearances[edit]

The Palomino was a hangout and refuge for struggling actors and stuntmen during their salad days, including Clint Eastwood, a contract bit player at Universal, and stuntman/secondary TV cowboy Hal Needham. Both remembered the club when they gained prominence in the industry as directors and sought it as a location. The club was featured in several movies including: Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and Any Which Way You Can (1980) starring Clint Eastwood, Geoffery Lewis, Sondra Locke and Ruth Gordon; Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), directed by John Cassavetes; The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2 (1978) starring Marilyn Hassett, Timothy Bottoms, Nan Martin, Belinda J. Montgomery; Hooper (1978) starring Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent and Sally Field; and The Junkman (1982), directed by and starring H.B. Halicki. Appearances on television include CHiPs and T.J. Hooker ("Finders Keepers" and "Country Action" episodes). It also is mentioned prominently multiple times in the pilot episode of The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors and guest starring Lou Rawls.


Mary Lyn Dias, who was discovered at the weekly talent show, soon became a backup singer for Hoyt Axton.

The club is mentioned in the lyrics of the song "San Ber'dino" on the 1975 album One Size Fits All by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.

Mike Watt and Firehose recorded the band's iconic Live Totem Pole EP at the Palomino on August 16, 1991.

The Palomino was honored several times as Club of the Year by Performance Magazine, a touring trade publication.