Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shelly's Manne-Hole -1960 - 1963 - In the beginning -

While I was taking classes in illustration at the Art Center School I got lucky...I found a job working the door at Shelly's...  Mutt Cohen who ran the Unicorn Coffee House on Sunset mentioned that Rudy Onderwyser was setting up a new jazz club with Shelly Manne and that I should see him about a gig part time ... It would not interfere with day classes and would be perfect for the weekend and maybe a day in between... The Unicorn Coffee House was in itself interesting as many of the great and not so great would pass through to take in an original coffee house folk scene...Freddy Engleberg, Harry Dean Stanton would jam blues before the show generally in the front ...sometimes in the rear courtyard...there was a neat little bookstore on the second floor in the back run by a couple that I met where I was living at the time and they put me on to that whole unfolding of the semi-beat coffee house evolution.
Rudy in the office upstairs

Rudy was a piece of work...He gave me a job on the weekends filtering out the peculiar ones; potential hot tempers or whatever and seating the serious jazz-a-philes. I had to give up the job two years later due to tough classes... I understood that a new hire replacement got into a real flap over not letting somebody in with heavy pull over the one dollar weekend door charge. 1608 North Cahuenga was in the heart of Hollywood and everybody wanted freebees by saying they were a friend of Shelly's...Shelly had a lot of friends..)

 On a visit back years later in the eighties Rudy said that they were tearing the building down And I went down to see for old times sake...The workers said they were going to dig up the sidewalk also along with the real man hole cover embedded in the concrete.. I ran down to an art store and picked up some large Strathmore sheets and some graphite and made three rubbings.

Rubbing from the ManneHole cover signed by Rudy

Richie Kamuca - Monty Budwig - unidentified vocalist
When Shelly first leased the space it was full of wild odds and ends - It kept getting added to from all sources... You can see the Schweppes man full size cut out in the upper right over the kitchen fitted with an apron and assorted beer coaster badges...also another blindfolded cutout serving a tray of beer. I donated a giant 7 foot Greek flag which hung in the back near the light between Richie and Monty in this shot.
Russ Freeman replaced Victor Feldman and Chuck Berghofer took Monty's place as the regular weekend group...Shelly paid scale - about $16.50 per night...!

This is a clip of Shelly and the group is from a TV show that featured jazz stars of the time in LA...very nostalgic for all of us old enough to remember...

After the first 2 years the space adjacent to the club (American Cancer Society) became available and they annexed it creating a much better venue for both musicians and patrons.  I found this sketch I made at the time in a journal showing the changes being made..the drawing is obviously not exactly to scale but shows the three levels that existed in the new club space ( the 1st being the highest to the 3rd a few steps down.)


Richie Kamuca

Richie and I stayed in contact also as he moved back east with the Merv Griffin Show and then back to LA in '70 ... I visited him in La during a  rehearsal Of the Griffin show and during a break he doubled over in his seat a groaned in pain... I asked him if he was OK and how long has this been going on... he said that he would see a doc soon...He passed a short time thereafter with cancer at 46...
Doris, his wife told me when Shelly came to see him in the hospital he asked Richie if he could do anything..
Richie replied "yeah...take my place..!" Rich was a supper talent and a loss to the jazz scene..

Sam SanAntone serving up
Dinner before opening w/ Tony

After the renovation Shelly booked in  Miles for a week.. this was a major event...
Rudy called me in to work the door as Art had a bad foot.  I had left the Manne-Hole the previous July due to a heavy class schedule but was happy to fill in..

Miles stayed in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and put up his sidemen  (George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Harold Mabern) in the now defunct Argyle Motel.  I Think that Jimmy Cob did the gig on drums but can't really recall that - Ron Carter on Bass.  I offered to take George and Frank down to Vic Tanny's Gym in Hollywood for a little exercise in the day - George came with me and Frank stayed behind...After the workout I took over a bottle of Metaxa 7star and took a few shots of a very young group of really gifted musicians. 
George Coleman

Frank Strozier

George Coleman

Harold Mabern

Harold Mabern
 I found these menus from the club stuck inside a record jacket of the double album of Shelly & His Men recorded in '61 in the club.

Wish that these prices were still around... It was a very affordable night out with great sounds.

Poster from Wednesday Night Promo

 One night Tony Curtis sat in with Paul Horn and played a few passable solos on flute....

Rudy going over receipts

Rudy, Sonja and Poof-Poo in the late seventies

I kept in contact with Rudy and Sonja every year after leaving LA until about 2010 when the phone went quiet and email disappeared...Rudy went down to run the Lighthouse after Shelly's closed and then tried to keep a place called Hop-Sings going... He said it didn't hop and didn't sing pooped out.. Nobody was going to clubs anymore..
During the short few years at the door and in the club anybody who loved jazz in Hollywood would show up during the week.. Clint Eastwood, Dave Raskin, Billy Wilder, Johnny Mathis, Julie London, Dizzy... tons of actors and actresses on the way up and down...I recall Sal Mineo bringing in Tuesday Weld and Shelly introducing only Sal... Tuesday Weld was already just as well known at the time and think she was a bit miffed.

One of the best sessions at the Manne-Hole was with the Bill Evans Trio in May of '63... I was happy to be there during the recording and still find this album as a favorite...with Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker....

I hope to add to this entry and if anyone out there has anything to correct or add please contact me..

There is a great blog on jazz profiles at this link.. It covers a lot of inside moves of the club etc..