Riot On the Sunset Strip: Rock’n’Roll’s Last Stand In Hollywood

May 18, 2008


Riot On the Sunset Strip: Rock’n’Roll’s Last Stand In Hollywood
By Domenic Priore

Greetings all.
Another book has made its way into the outbox, so it’s time to update the blog.
The tome I just finished was on my Amazon want list for a long time, and the last time I made an exploratory foray into the local book/cd/coffee barn – between books of course – it just happened to be there in the Music section, so I grabbed it.
The book in question is ‘Riot On the Sunset Strip: Rock’n’Roll’s Last Stand In Hollywood’ by Domenic Priore.
When I first heard about this book it set my hair on end. The mid-60’s Sunset Strip scene is for me one of the great (maybe the great) intersection of pop art and youth culture. That it was being written by rock’n’roll scholar Domenic Priore – a name that loomed large in the West Coast end of the mid-80’s garage/mod revival – I figured it couldn’t miss.
It turns out I was (mostly) right.
I should start out by mentioning that one of the book’s strong suits – the amazing photos -is also ironically it’s weakest point. While Priore has gathered some incredible period shots, due to what I can only assume is a production error, many of them are mislabeled either mis-identifying those pictured, or not (in some obvious cases) identifying them at all. If you’re an aficionado of those times, this won’t matter much because you already know the difference between Arthur Lee and John Echols, or Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark. If you’re not (already knowledgeable about the scene) you’re going to end up being misled. This must also have been disturbing for Priore, because I can’t imagine someone as deep into this scene as he is would ever make these kinds of mistakes.
That aside, Priore has really done his research and paints a very vivid picture of the mid-60’s Sunset Strip, as well as adding enough historical detail to put the growth of the Strip in perspective.
The book is broken up into thirteen chapters, each addressing a different aspect of the Sunset Strip and it’s history, as well as how it manifested itself in various parts of the pop culture spectrum. I came to this book having more than a passing familiarity with the bands of the Strip (two of which, Love and the Buffalo Springfield are personal favorites), but ‘Riot On the Sunset Strip’ was full of revelations, taking cultural movers and shakers (musicians, artists, radio, movie and TV personalities, local politicians, business owners) and creating a frame of reference that connects all the dots.
My favorite sections concerned the importance of West Coast pop art to the scene, the way the sound and sights of the Sunset Strip found their way onto TV (I was practical drooling reading about some of the bands that appeared on local television), the influence of the Strip on (and how it was influenced by) the surrounding area, and a very well written account of the legendary Sunset Strip riots.
As a fan of 60’s punk, I love how Priore covers a lot of ground about the local bands, their recordings and traces their lineage, showing how they influenced each other and many more famous bands. He also collected some great, rare photos of these bands.
If you have any interest at all in this period of popcult history ‘Riot On the Sunset Strip’ will prove indispensable.


Now Reading: The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family


  1. Im gonna have to look for this One

  2. […] Now there’s a book by that name that takes a real look. I’m going to have to check it out. Here is a post from the blog Paperback Rider blog about the book. […]

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