The Golden Bear
Famous names in a small club
For people that have been to The Golden Bear, the club is accurately described and labeled as Historic, Legendary and a musical venue Icon.
Sitting on beachfront property on Pacific Coast Highway, across the street was beautiful Huntington Beach. The club was small, held only 300 people. The building was very old and in bad shape. The roof had leaks in it and when it rained we had to put buckets on the floor to catch the water. The stage was small and the bands that played there used were either their way up or down or stopped by for filler dates, but they loved the club. The staff was friendly and like family.
It was magical. Just Google the name and you will see a lot of interesting articles. I can’t possibly tell the history of The Golden Bear in one page, just want to tell you about my experience
How I was hired
After traveling the country as a stage hand I settled in at Huntington Beach. I got as apartment only two blocks from the ocean and my roommate and neighbors were all friends I knew from school. I enjoyed the beach life. I used to ride my bike on the bike path on the beach almost everyday enjoying the beach sun and when I rode past The Golden Bear I used to see famous bands on the marquee. I said to myself some day I am going to go see a show there. One day I was riding by I saw a truck on the side with guys loading equipment in. I decided to ride up and say hi. I was only wearing a pair of swim shorts, a visor and sun glasses. I asked if the stage manager was there and a guy said he was. His name was Billy. I asked if they needed any stage hands and told him I was experienced, he said that he does. He asked if I knew how to run a light board and I told him I do and asked what type of board? When he told me it was a jackpot because that was the type of board it so happened it was the type of lighting console I had most experienced on. He told me to go change and come back. I raced home, changed and was back in an hour. It was the start of me working there for about three years.
From Production Assistant to Promoter
The Golden Bear fell upon financial hard times. Not because the club wasn’t making money but when the owner opened up a high-end club in Long Beach, that club lost a lot of money and the owner used money from The Golden Bear to try to save it. Unfortunately both clubs ended up closing down but before the last six months I presented the owner with an idea for me to book bands. Local bands have been hounding me to play at the famous club. The club did book some local bands once in a while but not very often.I had about 3 months of owed payroll and I told him if he let me book local bands on their dark nights I would subtract whatever money I made from the money he owed me. I figured that I would never receive my past wages anyway so what do I have to lose. The owner gave me about 10 dates, none of them were weekend dates, just Sundays thru Thursday type of dates. Not the best but I got dates to work with and a famous all ages club.
My first show I promoted
Now that I have a bunch of dates it was time to go to work. A friend of mine told me about a band called Poison getting popular in L.A. I told my friend I have heard of them and thought they were a girl band, he told me that they were guys and they were a glam band. On an ad in one of the local music magazines was their photo and booking information. I called the number and a guy named Bobby answered the phone. Bobby turned out to be Bobby Dahl, the bass player. I told him I was from The Golden Bear which quickly got his interest because he has heard of the famous club. He asked me if the club was all ages and I said it was and it held 300 people. He told me that they never played Orange County before but felt they can do well as it was close to L.A. and they had a large teenage female following. I gave Bobby the first date i had, and he said that they were available and needed $1,000 with a $500 deposit. I really didn’t know what to do because he told me never to guarantee a local band money because I would lose money if I didn’t sell enough tickets and promoting is a financially risky position. I told Bobby I will call him back. I went back to my friend and told him the band wanted $1,000 and he told me I should do it because they have been packing the L.A. clubs and really had a strong following. $1,000 was a lot of money in 1985 and was nervous. I called Bobby back and made the $1,000 agreement. He had me drive to Hollywood the next week where I gave him $500 deposit. Our contract was a hand written agreement on back of a flier. The date was 6 weeks away and now it was time to get the word out. i didn’t have much money and used their flier and zeroed a 1000 copies, they were horrible looking. I also convinced the owner to list them in the L.A. Times.
The day has arrived and the band arrived for sound-check. I had the final $500 and needed to get paid on arrival. I didn’t sell any advanced tickets and didn’t have any ticket revenue to use. I was lucky I was prepared. I worked my ass off promoting but didn’t know what to expect. Our box office girl arrived a few hours before to answer the phones and to prepare to open. The phones were answered by automatic recording normally and still had no idea how the show was going to do. About an hour after the girl stared answering the phone she called me to the box office and she told me she was getting a lot of calls for directions. I said great and she pointed that all 5 lines were lit up and was answering as fast as she could. I was now feeling good. After sound check we fed the band and we had a great time joking around the dressing room. The $1,000 guarantee was a lot of badly needed money to them. Remember this was before they had a record deal and was playing as a local band. 15 minutes before showtime i walked outside to see if there was a line. There was a line that was very long that went around the corner. Tickets were $10.00 and I sold all 300 and turned away a bunch of disappointed fans. I made $3,000, paid the band $1000 and had $2,000 profit. Not bad for my fist show . The owner could’t believe it and was happy because they did well selling food and beverages and I deducted $2,000 what he owed me. Life was good for all of us.Brett and i recently met in Las Vegas and he remembered the show over 30 years ago and was very happy to see each other again.
All of my dates at The Golden Bear, about 10 in total were all full and a couple more sellouts. The club closed and I was so disappointing that I was on a roll with my new career as a promoter. Now that I had money it was off to Hollywood to start doing shows at The Roxy Theater. I also ended up doing Poison’s record release party at The Whisky
In 1985 Robin Williams agent called and wanted to book 5 days at our club. He has been doing a lot of tv during his Mork and Mindy days and wanted to practice new material for his upcoming standup shows. I was able to work with him everyday as his stage manager and got to pent one on one time with him. He let me bring a handful of my friends every night back stage to meet him. Many of my friends still brag about the time I introduced them to Robin Williams
Some of my favorite shows were The Joe Perry Project, Bonnie Raitt, David Linley, Mick Fleetwood Zoo, Wall of Voodoo, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lords of the New Church, Cecelio and Kapono, Kalapana, Randy Hansen, The Bangles, Jackson Brown, Robin Williams, David Crosby, Dave Mason, Hiroshima, Ten Years After, BB King