Remembering the Troubador, LA's most famous music spot
By John Roberts
Los Angeles, California
May 4, 2016 4:54pm CST
fourwalls placed "The Sad Cafe" in the Eagles top 10 list and explained the song concerns the Troubador where the group once served as Linda Ronstadt's backup band. I am well acquainted with the Troubador which was THE music club in LA for years. Before the Sunset Strip club scene in the 60s, Lou Adler's Roxy Nightclub and House of Blues, there was the Troubador on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. Doug Weston opened his business in 1957 as a coffee house then a bar with mostly folk performers in the early 60s. I am adding that Don McLean played there when "American Pie" was a big hit. The Troubador would evolve into the premier LA talent showcase for up and comers. Not just for musical artists but also comics. Lenny Bruce was arrested there in 1962 for one of his obscene laden monologues. John Lennon was thrown out for heckling the Smothers Brothers. Steve Martin and Cheech and Chong got their starts at the Troubador. The number of soon to be well known performers getting their break or performing at the Troubador is legion. Even Tiny Tim of "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" played. Probably the zenith of the Troubador's fame came one night in 1970 when Neil Diamond introduced a young promising British piano player named Elton John. I was around the Troubador during the 70s heyday. No, I could not go inside as I was underage in the beginning. I was 13 when Linda Ronstadt played there when "Long Long Time" was a hit so all I could do was see young Linda at age 25 enter the stage door. Shows started at nine. Headliners could be established names like Van Morrison, George Carlin or John Prine or a newcomer riding a current chart hit such as Bill Withers with "Lean on Me." Opening acts could be some unknown named Bonnie Raitt and Randy Newman. There were Jim Croce and Harry Chapin and John Denver. Kris Kristofferson. Direct from "New York's bath houses" was a bill pairing Bette Midler and Barry Manilow and whoever heard of them? In the 80s, name talent shifted from the Troubador to the newly opened Roxy who in turn lost those names to the House of Blues in the 90s. The Troubador morphed into an 80s heavy metal mecca giving a place for Warrant and Motley Crue to perform. Doug Weston died in 1999 and the Troubador became a name evoking nostalgia. Decades have gone by without a big name appearing. I rarely recognize performer names these days though Sam Palladio who plays Gunnar on the TV series "Nashville" played there last week. The Troubador remains an active venue for new and local talent playing on the same stage as some of their idols.
13 people like this
• United States
4 May 16
I recently caught a concert of James Taylor and Carly Simon at The Troubador, and he talked about some of the old memories there, back when he unwittingly stole her song, "You've Got a Friend". lol They are a lot of fun together.
• Eugene, Oregon
21 Nov 16
@JohnRoberts Yes I do. It was on Melrose, was open during the same time that Troubadour was and when I looked it up saw that many of the greatest folk acts played there. There is a film about it too, but NF does not have it.
• Redlands, California
5 May 16
Good history and glad The Troubadour is staying true to its roots where many would just try to sell out to get the famous acts back. I know Rancid just played The Roxie for the first time last week. That could be a good thing because some big name bands do not like taking the attention off the new and up-comers.
• Los Angeles, California
5 May 16
What is sad though is not being able to see a name act in the intimate surroundings of a Roxy or Troubador. If a new act has a breakthrough hit, boom, straight to a big concert venue. That middle venue has disappeared.