"Riot On the Sunset Strip"
Book Signing Event: September 8, 2007
by Mark Guerrero
On Saturday afternoon, September 8, 2007 there was a book
signing event at historic Vroman's Book Store in Pasadena,
California. (Vroman's has been in Pasadena since 1894.)
It was hosted by the author of the book "Riot On the
Sunset Strip," Dominic Priore. The book deals with
the period of the mid-sixties on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.
It was a special time and place in the history of popular
music, which produced bands such as The Byrds, Love, The Doors,
and my favorite, The Buffalo Springfield. In a chapter
called "The Roots of Los Angeles Rock & Roll,"
Priore devotes several pages to the Chicano rock scene that
was happening in East Los Angeles in the same time period.
This fertile scene produced hit bands such as The Premiers,
Cannibal & the Headhunters, The Premiers, and Thee Midniters.
My teenage bands of the period, Mark & the Escorts and
The Men From S.O.U.N.D., are also mentioned in this chapter.
Because of this and my role as a Chicano music historian,
Dominic asked me to come and speak at the book signing.
He also invited other Chicano singers and musicians of the
period including Bobby Espinoza, keyboardist of the V.I.P.s
and later El Chicano; Ersi and Rosella Arvizu, two of the
three member of the female vocal group The Sisters; and Mario
Panagua, leader of the Jaguars and producer of many Eastside
bands. We all took the first hour of the presentation.
The second hour featured John "Chris" Christiansen
from Long Beach garage band Opus 1, the 1960s proprietor of
the Ice House in Pasadena, Bob Stane, and Ruthanne Friedman,
the writer of the classic recording by The Association, "Windy."
After Dominic Priore introduced me to the audience, he asked
me questions about the music scene in East Los Angeles in
the mid-sixties. I gave an overview of the scene that
included countless teenage bands and venues in which they
could perform. He then played a minute or so of my first
record, "Get Your Baby," on a vintage record player.
After talking about the record, Dominic introduced Bobby Espinoza
of El Chicano, who spoke about the history of the band in
which he was the keyboardist. His distinct Hammond organ
solos was a feature of their sound, particularly their first
hit record, "Viva Tirado" in 1969. Dominic
then played a segment of the record on the diminutive record
player. Next up was Mario Panagua, record producer and
leader of the Eastside 60s band, The Jaguars. He spoke
about his band and how he found Steve and Rudy Salas and got
them in The Jaguars. Steve and Rudy went on to success
in the 80s with their band Tierra. He also talked about
his role in El Chicano's first album, as well as Tierra's.
I mentioned that Mario is one of the East L.A. music scene's
unsung heroes. He had one of the best bands and helped
on many sessions of other artists in the 60s and 70s.
Dominic then introduced Ersi and Rosella Arvizu, members of
the East L.A. female vocal trio of the 60s, The Sisters.
Ersi was lead vocalist of El Chicano in the early days and
later went on to sing on Ry Cooder's 2005 album, "Chavez
Ravine." She also has a solo album coming out,
produced by Cooder. Ersi and Rosella answered questions
and talked about their careers and then treated the audience
to a beautiful a capella performance. These women can
The second hour of the presentation began with John "Chris"
Christiansen from Long Beach garage combo Opus 1. They
had a record on Bob Keane's Mustang label called "Backseat
'38 Dodge," a part of which was played for the audience
on Dominic's record machine. He was asked questions
by Dominic and told the story of his band and recordings.
Next up was the 1960s proprietor of the legendary Ice House
in Pasadena, Bob Stane. At the time it was a venue for
singers and bands, as well as the up and coming comedians
of the day. The Association and the Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band were house bands and comics such as Jay Leno and Steve
Martin performed there regularly. Bob Stane was very
humble about his role in helping many musicians and comedians
get started. His segment was also very interesting and
amusing. Last up was the composer one of the classic
hits of The Association, "Windy," Ruthann Friedman.
Ruthann told the story of her song, which she wrote while
living at David Crosby's house. She said The Association
knew it was a hit once they recorded it. She also mentioned
that she didn't have to worry about rent for years to come.
Ruthann treated us all to a performance of "Windy,"
accompanied by her 1968 Martin D-45 acoustic guitar.
Notables in the audience were Eastside musicians Anthony Baray
of the popular 60s East L.A. band, The Emeralds, and my drummer
in Mark & the Escorts and later The Men From S.O.U.N.D.
and Tango, Ernie Hernandez. After the presentation,
Dominic signed books and the artists signed autographs and
mingled with the guests and each other. Both the audience
and featured speakers had a great time at the event.
"Riot On the Sunset Strip" is available at amazon.com
at the link below.