By Codi Georges
Frank Ocean, Snoop Dogg, Sublime. Heard of any of these guys? Well these musicians all have one thing in common. And no, it’s not that they’ve each produced chart-topping hits.
All of these artists hail from Long Beach. That’s right, the city that many of us take for granted has produced some of the greatest musicians of our time. And the three above aren’t even the half of it.
But not everybody knows that this city is a music haven, and even some Long Beach residents aren’t aware of the greatness that has come out of their city.
The only way we can truly honor and bring attention to these hidden Long Beach gems is by inducting them into the not-yet-created Long Beach Music Hall of Fame, an idea that Press Telegram columnist Tim Grobaty has been tinkering with for a while.
Grobaty, once a full-time rock critic at the Press Telegram, initially came up with the idea of a Long Beach Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one Tuesday night out of pure boredom. He was simply playing around with the thought of it and before he knew it, he had come up with 50 musicians that could be inducted.
The good news for Grobaty is that his random Tuesday-night idea is slowly becoming a reality.
“I started mentioning some names and one thing led to another and pretty soon the Molinas bought Vault 350 and said they’d put the Hall of Fame in there,” said Grobaty. This is the most recent news for the venue, which has had trouble succeeding in the past.
John and Michelle Molina, the couple Grobaty is speaking of, make up one of Long Beach’s wealthiest couples. John is the CFO of healthcare giant Molina Healthcare and his wife, Michelle, is the Managing Partner at Millworks, a company that is “working to build a better Long Beach” through neighborhood investment. Millworks is currently in plans to open up a bigger, better entertainment venue at 350 Pine Ave., where the once-effervescent Vault 350 stood.
After multiple calls, the Molinas could not be reached for comment. Similarly, Michelle’s assistant, Lauren Limbaugh, said she did not want to discuss plans that have not been set in stone. “There are a few paths that we’re fairly certain we’re going to go down, but what we’re actually doing with the venue is still to be determined,” said Limbaugh.
Though future plans are not being publicized, the Molinas do intend on giving the club a new name, according to Grobaty. One thing is for sure, though – building progress on the new club is slow.
“The venue right now is pretty much dirt and dust,” Grobaty said. “[The Molinas] have a lot of work to do. But when they set their sights on something, they get it done.”
What the Molinas are getting done is their hiring. According to Millworks’ Facebook page, 350 Pine is sending out a “casting call to assemble a cast and crew to harness the power of live music and the performing arts with the potential of this space.”
For now, we can rest assured knowing that Grobaty will be working with the Molinas on the Hall of Fame. But it’s too early to say what the Hall will look like. Will there be plaques, signed guitars, gold records? One music-lover can only hope.
Grobaty initially created a list for a Long Beach Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland was quick to crush his plans. The spokesman of the organization called Grobaty in June and apologetically let him know that the term “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” is in fact trademarked and could not be used.
This didn’t completely crush his dreams. “It actually solved some problems because when I came up with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, people said ‘Well what about all the other musicians in town?’” Grobaty said.
The list is now significantly more inclusive. “It’s a really long list for a city of our size. There are a lot of people that could be inducted [into the Hall],” Grobaty said. “And a lot of them would probably be willing to play there.”
So who exactly will make the list of musicians to induct?
“War would be a good one, and they’ve expressed interest in being in it.” Grobaty also suggests the country-folk-rock Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who formed in Long Beach; Grammy-winning lyricist and composer Paul Williams; California State University alum Dave Alvin; and The Champs, who are most famous for their single “Tequila.”
Paige Hernandez, who owns and operates Alex’s Bar with her husband Alex, would like to induct the bands that frequently play at her bar. “The bands that draw the biggest crowds [at Alex’s Bar] are Death Hymn Number 9, Dengue Fever and White Murder,” Hernandez said. “Another huge band right now is Fartbarf. They have a big following and Long Beach loves them.”
Fingerprints manager Chris Baker would like to see Ikey Owens in the Long Beach Music Hall of Fame. The keyboardist is known for the work he did with Jack White and The Mars Volta. Owens passed away in 2014 due to a heart attack.
“He has a huge community following and support from locals to keep his legacy going,” said Baker. “I think people would want to see someone in [the Hall of Fame] who was a supporter of local music and culture.”
It’s an exciting concept, this Long Beach music repository and many are anxious. I, for one, can’t wait for the Long Beach Music Hall of Fame to open… But for now, we might just have to.
If you have any thoughts on who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Grobaty always encourages contributions on his Long Beach Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facebook Page.