Parousia’s busy spring performance schedule began in May when our song “Place Your Bets” hit the airwaves on KROQ, and then landing a spot as opening act for The Knack at Madame Wong’s West in Santa Monica and then performing at the ‘world famous’ Palomino in N. Hollywood.
Those were just the highlights of the past few weeks… today we were performing in ‘Tom Petty Territory’ at a hip and happening rock venue ironically called the Country Club in Reseda.
We were the ‘newcomers’ and therefore booked to play the less prestigious downstairs room with two other bands, Color Wheel and Purple Beach Drivers. When we got there, we were impressed with the size of the club. We were introduced to its rich history and discovered that some of the best rock acts of the decade performed on this stage.
The late entrepreneur Chuck Landis bought the property (a Sav-On drug and discount store) in 1980 three years before he teamed up with Michael Jackson on the “Thriller” Video. He built a stage in one corner with tiers of tables and a balcony and turned it into a 1,000-seat country music bar (hence the name) and Merle Haggard played opening night.
The club enjoyed its heyday from 1980 to 1982 when Landis leased the stage to concert promoters Wolf & Rissmiller. Wolf & Rissmiller practically invented Southern California pop concert promotion, starting in 1964 when they, along with then KRLA, D.J. Bob Eubanks, brought the Beatles to the Hollywood Bowl and arranged notable extravaganzas like Elton John at Dodger Stadium in 1975 and several Rolling Stones tour-stops in Southern California.
From 1980-1982, the Country Club became an essential venue at a critical period in Los Angeles’ musical history, attracting such acts as Tom Petty, Guns N’ Roses, Stryper, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Iggy Pop, Slayer, Robert Plant, Motörhead, UFO, Joan Jett, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mötley Crüe, The Beach Boys, Huey Lewis and the News, Culture Club, The Motels, Captain Beefheart, Alcatrazz, Beastie Boys, W.A.S.P., Saxon, Bob Weir, Social Distortion, Fugazi, Kiss, Soundgarden, Half Way Home, Bad Religion, The Mentors, Armored Saint, Bon Jovi, Nirvana, James Brown, System of a Down, Metallica, Megadeth and Blue Öyster Cult and U2 had their first Los Angeles concert there.
The acoustics were highly praised, and the shows were often sold out, but Rissmiller left after becoming depressed following business partner Steve Wolf’s murder, leaving Landis to push on alone. Landis introduced more hard rock and metal acts, and the venue also became home to boxing matches half of the week, dividing its audience.
But trouble brewed almost from the start for the Country Club. Neighbors complained of rowdy patrons littering, urinating and having sex in their front yards. The club’s reputation was further tarnished when a businessman was convicted of soliciting a rival’s murder in the parking lot.
A new manager, Scott Hurowitz, tried renting the stage for film and video production. Mick Jagger filmed videos there. Part of the film Boogie Nights was shot there. Scenes from “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: the Metal Years” were filmed at the Country Club. Prince held a post-MTV Awards concert there. MTV, that channel that used to show music videos, taped one of its New Year’s Eve parties there.
It’s not exactly clear when The Country Club closed. No one seems to know. It was still struggling in 1999 and likely closed its doors for good sometime just after the turn of the millennium. Landis sold the property and it was converted into a Spanish language Church.