Thursday, April 24, 2014

Final days in LA

I'm flying back from LA today after an action packed couple of weeks in the States. Our first full day included a tour of some of the tourist sites such as the Capitol Tower and the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, followed by a visit to the home of rockabilly singer Ray Campi, arranged by the Jive Aces. Ray was 80 this week and was a genial host, happily showing us his memorabilia from a career which began as a baby in an advert but which really took off during the rock revival of the seventies. He has hundreds of cassettes of interviews he did with Hollywood legends and music stars.
In the evenng we went to Joe's Bar and Grill which has live music most nights promoted by a guy known as Torch, who introduced us to music author Jim Dawson, who has written books on the Twist and Buddy Holly, among others. The band playing that night was Vargas Brothers, aka the Lonely Blue Boys, who played some good rockabilly and Doowop.
Next day we drove up Central Avenue checking out the remaining buildings from the R and B era of the forties, including the Dunbar Hotel and the Lincoln Theatre. From there we went to the Gene Autry Western Museum and Forest Lawn cemetery where many stars are buried, including Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. We were seeking the grave of Johnny Burnette, which we eventually found.
Later we dropped John off to meet some British friends in Santa Monica and then visited Big Jay McNeely, one of the most successful R and B sax players of the late forties and early fifties and one of the originators of rock and roll. We went to the House of Pancakes restaurant and had a fascinating chat, more of which I will put on the blog soon. He's 86 now and walks with two sticks, but is as sharp as can be and still playing and recording.
And so we return to the UK absolutely knackered after a whirlwind trip. I need a rest! Watch out for photos from the trip and more on Big Jay.
Nick Cobban.


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