An anecdote from my pal Owen Green (who probably turned me onto Sun Ra, as well as Fela Kuti and Patto) about the much-missed Palomino, which was the honkiest honky tonk this town ever had:
One of the penultimate live show ironies of my experience would be seeing The Sun Ra Arkestra at the Palomino; which included the wait staff (dressed in Daisy Dukes and the like) gawking at the stage wondering who were these crazy black people along with the equally eccentric audience watching them.
And I thought seeing the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at an East Hollywood punk rock dive called the Anti-Club was special. Well, it was, but not Sun Ra at the Palomino special. We did get to hang out on the band bus, though, and smoke a reefer with the singer. Buddy Morrow hung with us a bit but turned down the joint, he was working. Man, this was three decades ago. Three decades before then was the tail end of the big band era. Three decades ago from today rock music was vital and crazy and still scared people. Well, not Buddy Morrow. Probably nothing scared him. He’d been around. Night Train, baby. Sun Ra had been around too. To other planets, in other lifetimes, and up on a rooftop in Philadelphia. That one there’s film of.
Do these kind of things even happen anymore? Sun Ra and cowboys, Tommy Dorsey and punk rockers? Well, not Tommy Dorsey himself, he would have punched us all out after screwing the bartendress. Herman Blount (aka Sun Ra) just floated above the audience though. I wish Waylon had been there to see it, or Jerry Lee Lewis. Or Willie Nelson…he and John Gilmore could have gotten down.
The thing about big giant cities is that everything is here, and sometimes they meet and weird, wonderful shit can happen. Or else there’s a fist fight. Whatever. It’s a happening. Space is the place, even if that place is a honky tonk.
Ya know, I tried looking for a picture of Sun Ra at the Palomino to put here. No luck. There were pictures, but they just looked like Sun Ra anywhere. I didn’t want anywhere, I wanted the honky tonk. I did find the LA Times review of the show, though. The guy wrote it up like a jazz review. Not me. I would have gone crazy. It was Sun Ra at the Palomino for crying out loud.
Now it’s time for Owen to spill about those all night Fela Kuti extravaganzas at the Olympic. I missed out on those too. You never realize how stupid you were until years later, and there’s nothing you can do about it because everybody’s gone.