Tag Archives: Rodney’s English Disco

Pop on Jett

Joan Jett at the Tropicana by Brad Elterman

Joan Jett intimidates Iggy Pop. Back in the mid-’70s, when he first encountered the then-Runaway at the Tropicana — the Hollywood motel where they both sometimes lived — “I remember thinking, ‘That’s a real competitor,” he told me in an interview for Queens of Noise today. “That’s a real strong force.'”

Admittedly, Mr. Osterberg doesn’t recall a lot about that time period. “It’s not too far off the mark to say that’s what I’m told,” he answered, when I said he was living in LA back then. Hollywood was not then or now a place for a person with raging drug inclinations to get sober. But he managed to pull some funny and insightful memories of Kim Fowley, the Agora in Cleveland, and the Runaways at the Rat in Boston out of the foggy haze.

He did not wax nostalgic about Rodney’s English Disco, where he performed one of the venue’s rare live gigs, his infamous Death of a Virgin.  “It was like a hobby for a sick person. It wasn’t like a business or anything. There was no good reason for that place to exist. There were lots of bad reasons for it to exist.”

He admits that Jett, whom he runs into occasionally, still makes him nervous. “She’s hot. She’s good. Her stuff cuts right across. Anyone can understand it.”

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The Runaways’ LA

The old Sugar Shack

All that’s left of the Sugar Shack is the writing on the wall. A pizzeria now stands in the strip mall where, during the mid 1970s, the infamous all-ages club drew nubile nymphets from the Valley and Hollywood. The erstwhile lip-gloss mecca is on the other side of Laurel Canyon from the Sunset Strip, in a cute little gabled complex that also houses an old-fashioned photo service and a restaurant named Classique Raphy’s. It’s kind of hard to believe that, after the shuttering of the even more infamous Rodney’s English Disco, this suburban outpost became ground zero for the fertile, decadent LA glam scene — this picturesque commercial corner was jailbait central. It was here that Joan Jett and Kim Fowley found a blond bombshell singer, Cherie Currie, for the all-girl band they were forming, the Runaways. The only traces of that past, along with other graffiti Magic Markered on the white walls of Joe Peep’s Pizza, are tags celebrating: “Sugar Shack.” “Hollywood.” “1776 Biecentennial. 1976 Biesexual (sic).” Continue reading

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