Palomino Club (North Hollywood)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (June 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
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. 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 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, 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
Originally a "rather tough beer bar," 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 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. 
The Palomino Club was notable because in addition to being the San Fernando Valley’s premiere 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
In the 70s and 80s, 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. 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 musical giants like Elvis Costello and Neil Young created sensational disturbances in the neighborhood with huge crowds outside and resulting media attention. Special 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 Pretenders, Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Harrison, The Plimsouls, Half Way Home, Bo Diddly, The Outlaws, The Blasters, Albert King, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Quiet Riot featuring Randy Rhoads, and Canned Heat.
In the 70's Rockabilly artist Waukeen Cochren 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 '70s the country rock group called TEX with Michale Martin Murphy, bass and vocals, Owens Boomer Castleman, lead guitar, vocals, Herb Stiner, steel guitar, and Stoney Stonecipher (JD Stone), drums, and vocals, performed, until the group split in the late '70s. Another local country rock band to grace the stage was Woodwork. An all original act managed by Linda & John LaCombe, Woodwork featured the songs of Steve Hammer and Chris Clifford, with the two of them on guitars and vocals, fronted by Ray Buckwich on vocals, Mike Carr on bass and John Penney on drums. Although "disbanded" in 1976, Woodwork (and management) reunited in summer of 2013 and recorded a slate of new material.
The Palomino also hosted various political fundraising events, most notably for California Gov. Jerry Brown's Senatorial campaign in 1982.
After the death of both original owners, Billy and Tommy Thomas, (due to congenital cardiac defects), the club struggled with Tommy's second wife Sherry, (a former Palomino waitress), in charge. The Palomino could not maintain the earlier momentum as it became economically strapped, no longer able to attract the high caliber acts in such a small venue. It was fitting that on the clubs last night three blues acts from southern California closed the Palomino. Jimmy O, Blue by Nature and Stevi Lynn & Bordercrossing.
The club closed in 1995.
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. The owner of the sign Scott McNatt realizing the signs historical significance contacted a local historian and preservationist 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 located in Chatsworth, California
Movie and Television appearances
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, Sandra Locke and Ruth Gordon; 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 Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), directed by John Cassavetes, as well as CHiPs's, 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.
Freddie Brown entertained at The Palomino and is now performing in Nashville, TN.
The Palomino was honored several times as Club of the Year by touring trade publication Performance Magazine.
- Elisabeth Greenbaum Kasson, "The Palomino: An Oral History: The Valley’s legendary honky-tonk played host to country music’s brightest stars", Los Angeles, June 2014.
- San Fernando Valley history
- "Linda Ronstadt in her Palomino Bow", December 11, 1971, Los Angeles Times