Jani Lane, Gerry Gittelson & Bekka Bramlett backstage @ Gazzarri’s 1989
By Gerry Gittelson
Like the beautiful design of a flying-V guitar coming together from heaven and hell, I think I was always destined to join Metal Sludge.
It’s in my blood. Rock, that is, and writing about it.
I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, starting off as a cub reporter for Rock City News back in the day in my early 20s. My first assignment was to cover a rock event called The Street Scene in Downtown L.A. featuring a couple of headliners who were just starting off but seemed to have a lot of potential – Guns N’ Roses and Poison.
This was 1986 or so, and Guns N’ Roses kind of scared the shit out of me because I had never seen anyone who looked like Axl Rose – androgynous but intimidating, soft-featured yet angry, bejeweled and dressed in silk and leather yet utterly grimy.
None of the songs were familiar of course – at that point, about half the tunes would eventually end up on “Appetite For Destruction” – but when Axl ended the set by screaming “Fuck you!” to a guy in the front row, it was clear he and his band mates were very passionate about what they were doing, and that’s what impressed me the most.
Poison was great, too. There were thousands of people there, they pulled up behind the stage in a limo, shredded through a set that I remember included the Kiss classic “Strutter,” then jumped back in the limo and took off before the applause died down.
Afterward, Guns drummer Steven Adler was hanging out, and some girl approached and asked him to sign her tit.
I had never seen anything like it — but I was the one with the pen.
I still have that black bic pen – I’ve saved it forever – and it has taken me to places and opened doors to some rock and roll dreams that I’ll never, ever forget, even though I’ve never played a note of music, and I don’t know the difference between a G chord and a G Spot – a bit surprising when you consider I adopted the name “Gerry G-Spot” for so many years.
With my rock pedigree consisting of all those lonely teen years filled with listening to great albums from the Beatles to Pink Floyd to Van Halen, I faithfully covered local rock on the Sunset Strip in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Hollywood was a concrete playground and the Rainbow was like a Garden of Eden.
God did I enjoy hanging out at the Rainbow and socializing with all of its inhabitants like Lemmy, C.C. DeVille, David Lee Roth, Slash, Vince Neil, Taime Downe and countless others who will forever look to Mario Maglieri as a surrogate grandfather.
I eventually started my own magazine called Hollywood Rocks – my ensuing public feud with Rock City News’ Ruben Blue was the stuff of legend – before branching off to national publications and eventually the Los Angeles Daily News, where I still write about rock and have remained loyal to the old Sunset Strip that forever will have my heart.
You have no idea how I miss the days of starting every week with Fridays and Saturdays on the Strip, Sundays at X-Poseur 54 or the Jet Set (and Miss Gazzarri contest) at Gazzarris, Mondays at the No Bozo Jam at the Whisky, Tuesdays at Red Light District at then-Hollywood Live followed by a late-night visit to the Cathouse, etc.
I miss that unmistakable smell of leather and hair spray and cigarettes that used to attach itself to all my clothes. I miss sorting through a dozen band flyers from the night before. I miss the little Rainbow matchbooks, the glint in young Tommy Lee’s eye, the curve of Lita Alpenia’s ass.
Rock is dying. Yes, Ozzy and Slash just played at the Universal Amphitheatre – though the $106 dollar price tag for tickets kept most of the old groupies away – but every year there are a few less big shows. And every year, there are a few more almost-famous bands like Pretty Boy Floyd, BulletBoys and Bang Tango that call it a day. And every year, the truly great ones like Paul McCartney and David Lee Roth and Angus Young get a year older but keep on going.
But for how long?
For as long as it takes. I will NEVER turn my back on Jani Lane, who is a lifelong friend no matter how much trouble he gets into, and I will continue to secretly wish until the day I die for a Guns N’Roses reunion with all original members.
In the meantime, I’ve got a million memories of when the Sunset Strip was the most vital force in music, and I want to share them. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, and that’s why, whatever happens, I will look always look back fondly at that glittering avenue that continues to lose its trademarks like Rock N Roll Dennys and Tower Records but will eternally be a big piece of who I am.
Metal Sludge welcomes Gerry with a hand shake, head bang and high five all in one. He is without a doubt an old skool Hollywood vet, who has ‘been there and done that’. This man has trudged countless miles on the street of dreams, and probably has witnessed as much debauchery and shenanigans as anyone outside of Motley Crue themselves. From rock stars, to corner bars, from implants to transplants he’s surely seen the inside, the down side and self appointed career suicide of the planets – greatest and lamest rock names.
There isn’t much more to say, so we’ll let the G-Spot take you back to when hair, cocaine and time were in abundance for anyone who dared to tuck their pants into a pair of snake skin cowboy boots. Stay tuned for more from Gerry "G-Spot" Gittelson.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at GerryG123 @ Hotmail . Com