As a music fanatic, it doesn’t take much to get Left of the Dial Records owner Geoff Leamon talking about the early days of rock and roll. His store is adorned with posters of music legends such as Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett.
On the shelves, he displays vinyl records by everyone from the Beatles to the Pretenders. A Morrissey cutout stands behind the counter and a James Brown bobble-head doll greets customers as they walk in the door. Even the name of his store, Left of the Dial, is a song from the punk band the Replacements.
So when a customer came in one day and mentioned Seal Beach's legendary 1960s music venue, the Marina Palace, Leamon’s curiosity was piqued. He had never heard of the place. But once he found out the Doors, Byrds and Tina Turner played there in 1967, he was hooked. And now, after months of Google searches, Facebook inquiries and EBay hunting, Lemon’s search for the Marina Palace is finally starting to bear results.
Clubs on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood have traditionally dominated the narrative of Southern California's early rock music scene. But the truth is that bands played in all types of venues. The Marina Palace was one of those cool clubs. Leamon’s goal is to make sure the Marina Palace is remembered as an important spot in rock history. And so he wants to create an in-store exhibit dedicated to the venue.
“If you go back in history, a lot of the greats have played there: the Byrds, the Doors, the Seeds, the Avengers,” Leamon said. “Just knowing there was something that cool -- and that close -- is important to Seal Beach and its music history. I think a lot of people are interested and want to know about it.”
When Leamon first Googled "Marina Palace," he couldn’t even find a picture of the building. He still can’t. But he did find author Domenic Priore’s Personal Weblog. Priore wrote the book Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood. On his blog, Priore discusses the Marina Palace's importance to psychedelic rock.
Priore recounts that Seal Beach locals knew the Marina Palace as the Quonset Hut. It was a curved metal building that was eventually painted in full psychedelic regalia. He has incredible pictures of David Crosby on guitar and Jim Morrisson singing to a crowd of adoring fans.
Priore also writes about the house band for the Marina Palace, Things to Come. Things to Come consisted of Steve Runolfsson on keyboards, harmonica and vocals, Lynn Rominger on guitar, Bryan Garofalo on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums. In 1967, the group recorded I Want Out, which Lemon recently acquired on EBay.
Their psychedelic sound was perfect for his store, Leamon said. “I just think it’s important and fits into what I’m trying to do with my store. I carry a lot of psychedelic garage rock stuff. And a lot of the bands I like fall into that category.”
Unfortunately, the out-of-print album is the only tangible memorabilia Leamon has been able find that is associated with the Marina Palace. For an in-store exhibit, he needs more.
“So far, I’ve reached out to members of bands that used to play there and people that maybe have pictures,” Leamon said. “Its funny, because you cant find much of anything on the Internet. It's like it never existed. I don’t even know when it closed. I want to get pictures and create some posters.”
So, he's soliciting help from people in the community who may have items related to the club: pictures, music from bands that played there, etc.
“I want to set up the exhibit and I also want to have in-store performances from bands that played The Palace,” Leamon said. “I’ve already reached out to members of the Things to Come and Opus 1, another local band that played there. I just think that the stories and memories that people have should be heard. For them, it could be a blast from the past.”
And for those who didn’t know Seal Beach hosted concerts by the Doors and other bands, an exhibit and performances would be a lesson in rock history, he said.
If you have information or artifacts, Leamon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 562-598-3666.