West Hollywood is marking the 50th anniversary of one of the pivotal moments of music and protest of the 1960s — the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots. Beginning Friday, the city will host a series of events and exhibitions that explore the cultural significance of that era: “There’s Something Happening Here… On the Sunset Strip 1966.”
The Sunset Strip Curfew Riots erupted on Nov. 12, 1966, in protest to curfews and efforts to close nightclubs that catered to young music fans. The 10 p.m. curfew and strict no loitering laws were imposed i by L.A. County after complaints from nearby residents and businesses about young people blocking the sidewalks outside nightclubs. As many as 1,000 young people showed up at Pandora’s Box, a club on the Strip at Crescent Heights, on Nov. 12 for a demonstration attended by celebrities like Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Eventually county officials demolished the club, an incident that was chronicled in the film Riot on the Strip in 1967.
“West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip has an amazingly rich history,” said Mayor Lauren Meister. “The music that filled venues on the Sunset Strip during the ’60s and ’70s was also the soundtrack that transformed culture throughout the country. ‘There’s Something Happening Here’ will highlight events and stories that shaped the Strip, as well as a whole generation.”
“Music was at the center of the counterculture of the rocking 1960s in this country,” said Councilmember John Duran. “And West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip were ground zero in Southern California for the sexual revolution and anti-war movement. It’s hard to believe it all happened 50 years ago.”
The series of events will kick off on Friday with a special slideshow and talk with rock ‘n’ roll photographer Henry Diltz from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. The evening will spotlight and celebrate the performers integral to the Sunset Strip’s music scene. Diltz will recount personal anecdotes about the musicians he befriended and photographed, and about his experiences.
Following the slideshow and talk, there will be a reception at the adjacent West Hollywood Library, on the second floor, for an exhibition of Diltz’s photographs, “There’s Something Happening Here…,” which will be on display through May 3. The name of the exhibition and series was inspired by a verse of the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth.” The song, which was written by Stephen Stills in 1966 and released in 1967, was inspired by the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots.
Admission to the slideshow and talk is free and open to the public. Attendance is expected to reach capacity, so advance reservations are required by completing an RSVP form online. Guests with RSVPs are advised to arrive early to ensure seating. RSVPs are not required for the reception. Parking validation will be available for the five-story West Hollywood Park Structure adjacent to the library.
“There’s Something Happening Here” will continue in February 2017 with a talk by Domenic Priore about the rise of counterculture in West Hollywood. Priore is the author of “Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood.” He will explore the specific moment between 1965 and 1966 that the Sunset Strip became the epicenter of the folk music scene, which had previously been harbored in Greenwich Village, New York City. That turning point began when Bob Dylan first took the stage with The Byrds at Ciro’s, and the scene flourished as musicians and bands such as Frank Zappa, Love, and Buffalo Springfield became world-famous.
Also in February 2017, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards on the Sunset Strip,” an outdoor photo exhibition of historic billboards as captured by photographer Robert Landau, will be installed at 8775 Sunset Blvd. In the rock ‘n’ roll era, custom-designed billboards famously promoted the musicians and bands that brought fans from all over the world to the Strip’s clubs.
In April 2017, as part of the city’s celebration of National Poetry Month, city Poet Laureate Kim Dower will organize a reading of works from poets who have captured the Sunset Strip scene, both then and now, with a program titled: “As Far As You Can See… Sunset Strip Through the Eyes of Poets.”
More history and information about “There’s Something Happening Here… On the Sunset Strip 1966”, including details about upcoming events, a downloadable brochure, a historical map and links to music, books and film, are available online.