Laurence Juber. Photo by Michael Lamont
Growing up in London, England, I understood that Hollywood was the movie capitol of the world, but as a budding guitarist, it was its recorded music that captured my imagination. London had The Beatles’ Abbey Road Studios, but LA had Sunset Sound, Radio Recorders, Western, Capitol—studios with a magical resonance, which fueled my own intention to become a studio musician.
I went from London studio work, to being a member of Paul McCartney’s Wings— a rare experience! After the band folded, I settled in ‘Hollywood-adjacent’ Studio City in 1981. My first stop was the Local 47 Musician’s Union building on Vine Street. Exiting the 101 at Vine, I felt the gravitational pull of Hollywood and its roots in entertainment. Hollywood and Vine is symbolized by the iconic Capitol tower, built in 1956. It’s a location where I’ve spent countless hours recording in the basement studio with its highly-prized Les Paul-designed reverb chambers, hidden beneath the parking lot.
My wife Hope is the daughter of the late Sherwood Schwartz, creator of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. The latter show was filmed at the historic Paramount lot on Melrose. The Stage M sound stage there was the location of my first Hollywood studio sessions—my entree to composing, performing and recording the music for TV and movies.
When Sherwood was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—a rare honor for a TV writer/producer—it was a proud moment for the family. Gilligan and Brady fans can find it on the north side of Hollywood Blvd between Whitley and N Hudson.
I still experience a thrill after navigating the automotive ballet of Laurel Canyon as it unfolds onto Sunset. Turning right toward the Strip, brings memories of playing Tuesday jam night at The Central—now the Viper Room—across from The Whiskey, with its storied rock music history. Turning left brings me to the pocket of guitar stores, anchored by the original Guitar Center, with its Rockwalk of handprints of rock musicians, emulating the collection of movie star handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Speaking of theaters, Hollywood is brimming with small spaces where writers, directors and performers can refine their craft. There is nothing like seeing a musical at the art deco masterpiece Pantages, with a pre-show dinner at Musso and Frank Grill for me to feel like I’m in the heart of Hollywood.
Editor’s Note: Grammy-winning guitarist Laurence Juber, recording artist, composer/arranger and former member of Paul McCartney’s “Wings”. “The Fab 4th” is his new Beatles-inspired solo guitar recording. The first of the series, “LJ Plays The Beatles”was voted one of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s all-time Top Ten albums.