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January 19, 2017

20 Rarely Seen Photos of Los Angeles Rock Bands From the Late 1970s to the 1980s

Rock genres collided in 1980s Los Angeles, creating a kaleidoscope of sounds unmatched by any other city for its variety. The terrain of Southern California, by its very diverse nature, spawned likewise diverse talent. The beach communities, the Valley, South Central, the Inland Empire, East L.A.; each had its own flavor, infused in the local music.

Together these bands created an indigenous imprimatur, a unique combination of audacity, theatricality, bravado, pitch-perfect harmonies and an uninhibited sense of humor. In addition, with the major record labels headquartered here since the gradual shift in the late-sixties, it became the center of the music industry, and by the end of the 1970s Los Angeles had everything an ambitious rock group could hope for: an abundance of clubs, school dances and rehearsal spaces for playing; and the ubiquitous A&R executives that regularly made the rounds, seeking new talent to sign.

While snobbish music journalists panned heavy metal with snarky reviews, the bands’ devoted fans crammed every venue they played, sending them to the top of the charts and to platinum selling-status. It was a very good decade for the music industry, with more bands being signed in L.A. and more revenue being generated from L.A. bands than in any other place and time since the 1950s.

In preparation for an upcoming show at the Santa Monica Civic, Mötley Crüe rehearses at Perkins Palace in Pasadena on November 9, 1983; left to right, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, and Mick Mars. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

May 15, 1984: From under a heavenly blue light, lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen inspired ecstasy in Sunday night's crowd. (Photo by Paul Chinn, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

1984: Greg Ginn and (future KCRW DJ) Henry Rollins of Black Flag (Photo by Rob Brown, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

October 28, 1983: San Pedro's Minutemen, who will be playing locally are, from left, Mike Watt, D. Boon and George Hurley. (Photo by James Ruebsamen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

March 19, 1984: Heavy metal group Slayer's lyrics include lines like, 'Hold high his name we must... In Lord Satan we trust.' (Photo by James Reubsamen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

June 23, 1983, rock band W.A.S.P. at a blood drive: Some bloodletting expected at W.A.S.P. shows. (Photo from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

June 18, 1982: From left: John Doe, Don Bonebrake, Billy Zoom and Exene of the local rock group X. Their Sunday concert at the Greek will be the first of a national tour. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

September 22, 1989: Flea gets kissed by Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis. The band will perform cuts from their 'Mother's Milk' album tonight at the Palladium. (Photo by James Reubsamen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

1982: Members of The Dream Syndicate; from left to right, Karl Precoda, Kendra Smith, Dennis Duck, Steve Wynn. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

July 24, 1981: The Go Go's got their start at the legendary Masque Club. From left: Gina, Belinda, Jane, Kathy and Charlotte. (Photo by Anne Knudsen, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

February 11, 1983: The Bangles don't appreciate comparisons to the Go-Go's. From left: Vicki Peterson, Annette Zilinskas, Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson. (Photo by Michael Edwards, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

Preeminent hardcore punk band The Circle Jerks (Keith Morris, Greg Hetson, Roger Rogerson, Lucky Lehrer) on stage at the Starwood Club in West Hollywood on March 10, 1981. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

July 1, 1979: Quiet Riot and fans bring their demonstration to CBS Records. Publicity, yes, contract, no. (Photo by Ken Papleo, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

1989: Jane's Addiction Lead singer Perry Farrell performs at the John Anson Ford Theater. (Photo by Lucy Snowe, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

December 28, 1978: [Runaways] Lead singer-guitarist Joan Jett. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

December 28, 1978: [Runaways] Lead guitarist Lita Ford. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

1988: El Vez, "The Mexican Elvis" a.k.a. Robert Lopez, with the Elvettes. (Photo by Lucy Snowe, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

August 18, 1983: Oingo Boingo's Danny Elfman. (Photo by Michael Edwards, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

April 16, 1982: The Plugz are among a select group of bands that began in early punk days. (Photo by Gary Leonard, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

August 25, 1983: Punk band Social Distortion's lead singer and guitarist Michael Ness, 21, and guitarist Dennis Danell, 21. (Photo by Chris Gulker, from the Herald-Examiner Collection)

(All photos from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)


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