Turning Down A Rolling Stone
I was 18 and babysitting 8-year-old twins in the San Fernando Valley. Normally on a Friday night I would be out with friends hitting clubs on the Sunset Strip. Yes. I was underage. But back in those days a wink and a pretty face got you in almost anywhere. My friend Jana was working at the box office at The Roxy Theater, a new music club that had opened the year before in 1973.
Famed record producer, Lou Adler and restaurant/night club owner Elmer Valentine, along with other iconic music executives - David Geffen, Elliot Roberts and Peter Asher, opened the Roxy. They got together to create the club in 1973 after seeing one too many venues neglected and mistreat leading musicians. Their dream to open a venue where artists of all musical genres felt at home became a reality on September 20th of that year. Neil Young performed on opening night. Days later, Cheech and Chong, Jerry Lewis, The Temptations, Genesis and Frank Zappa also performed. For nearly 50 years, The Roxy has been a launching platform for aspiring artists and a home for those that are well established in the industry.
Back to babysitting. My friend had mentioned there would be a great show that night and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had accepted the babysitting job reluctantly, even though I needed the extra cash. Two hours into the evening, I called the twins' parents and told them I was sick and had to go home. Yes. I told a whopper. I just had to go to the Roxy!
I was still pretty irresponsible at 18, other than my work in film.
So these poor people had to cut their night short to come home to their suddenly ill babysitter. I poured on the the drama when they walked in, grabbing my tummy in pretend discomfort and staggering out to my car. Once the coast was clear, I stepped on the gas and zipped over Benedict Canyon down to The Strip in my snazzy, burgandy Camaro.
I arrived at 8:30pm about 30 minutes after show time. Jana passed me a ticket and in I went. Muddy Waters was playing. The room was packed. I found some standing room off to the side and got comfy up against the wall. About thirty minutes later, a leather clad, skinny guy with long black hair and an awful complexion walked up to me. He had a "presence" about him and a British accent. He seemed somehow familiar, but I couldn't place him. He was very flirtatious and quite cocky. He was obviously interested in me and wanted to take me out after the show. I was not attracted to him in the least.
I spotted some friends across the room, excused myself, and walked over to join them at their table. Apparently, my friends had watched the interaction between me and the British dude.
"So tell us what happened with you and Ron Wood? You are so lucky! What did he say? Did he ask you out?" My mouth dropped open. "Ron Wood? As in Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones?," I asked. "Duh. Of course!", they exclaimed. I sat for a minute thinking. Should I have accepted his advances just because of who he was? I had mixed feelings. It wasn't the first time I had turned down a celebrity. I looked at him once again from a distance. Yup. It was Ron Wood. Nope. I couldn't do it. As exciting as the idea was, he just wasn't my type.
A few minutes went by and Muddy Waters announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm happy to say that a friend of mine is here in the audience. Let's make some noise and see if we can get him up on stage...Mr. Ron Wood!" The audience went wild. Moments later Ron ran up to the stage. Ron and Muddy hugged, a guitar was passed to Ron and he and Muddy played. From what I remember they performed two or three numbers together.
The music was great before and during Ron's time on stage.
It was a pricey membership but we never had to pay. It was THE hangout for people like John Lennon, Warren Beatty, Julie Christy, Jack Nicholson, Robert Deniro, Alice Cooper, Roman Polanski and many more. Swirling clouds of marijuana and tables lined with cocaine were normal.
The Roxy and other Sunset Strip clubs were a far cry from the elegant dinner clubs of the 30s, 40's and 50's... Ciro's, The Macambo, Café Trocadero, etc.
It's been said that the only thing we can count on in this is world is change. This applies to everything - including our wild celebrity based culture.