Scouting out hangouts of music industry denizens

A BOOK ARRIVED AT the Daily Variety offices the other day. It wasn’t about sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll. Even better: It was about all three.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Trip: The Ultimate Guide to the Sites, the Shrines, and the Legends Across America” was the somewhat unwieldy title of the book, written by A.M. Nolan and available through Pharos Books. It goes on sale Nov. 16 for a mere $ 14.95 at finer bookstores everywhere.

Organized by region, “Road Trip” unveils the King Tut’s tombs of rock, including listings locating Madonna’s first New York apartment, the club where Guns N’ Roses got its first big break and the house where Elvis Presley was born.

The Los Angeles section of the book says our fair metropolis “rivals any other American city for rock ‘n’ roll landmarks,” and offers to play Virgil to the reader’s Dante through such areas as “East L.A.” and “The Hollywood Bowl,” spicing it up with such predictable entries as the Whisky and the Troubador.

THERE’S JUST ONE PROBLEM with the book’s premise–who wants to see a place where a star or high-powered executive might have appeared? How much the better to see exotic flora and fauna in its natural habitat.

Working the phones, we called some of the most noted scenesters in town, many whose names you would instantly recognize from various restroom walls should we reveal them here. However, to protect their most-favored-nation status in the town’s hot spots, we have offered them the cloak of anonymity, the better to let them vent without fear of future doorman prejudice.

We asked them: If you were to take one of your cousins from Jackass Flats, Tennessee, on a tour of this town and wanted to show them someone vaguely connected to the music industry, where would you go?

Lunch time was the preferred moment to catch the upper tier of executives, particularly those over 40, who vanish into their thickly carpeted homes at sundown.

For upper management, check out Le Dome, the Palm, Musso & Frank’s, Columbia Bar & Grill, Spago, Ivy, Morton’s.

For those whose paychecks and job status weigh slightly less, try Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills (“Springsteen, every publicist west of La Cienega”); Hampton’s in the Valley (Warner Bros. and MCA execs); and the Source, a vegetarian joint on Sunset near Sweetzer (“I saw Magic Johnson and Foghat in there one time,” said one wag. “It was a toss-up as to who was more impressive.”)

And if you’re looking for someone whose executive rank makes them a likely candidate to get your coffee, try El Coyote on Beverly, Barney’s Beanery, Don’s Place (“a burger joint in the Valley”), Duke’s Coffee Shop on Sunset, or the Cat & Fiddle (“if the crabby hostess isn’t there.”)

FOR AFTER-WORK FUN, search for the male persuasion of the latter class (or any heavy-metal musician) at the Star Strip on La Cienega or the Star Gardens in North Hollywood.

Yeah, yeah, we said. But what about some places that you really have to be an insider to know about?

“The Sunset Marquis swimming pool,” was the suggestion of one local scribe. “They have that little restaurant and a lot of people stay there.”

“The Frolic Room,” said one Capitol exec, fingering the end-of-the-week strategy sessions that have lately mushroomed for the label’s management team, no doubt to be reflected in greatly improved chart status in the months to come.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were touted as a great place to see musicians, although one source cautioned, “Most of them haven’t had a deal in years.” Undoubtedly.

Then there’s the Ralph’s supermarket in Studio City. “One afternoon when I was there shopping I ran into X, Y and Z (three prominent executives whose names are here omitted to protect the innocent),” said the source. “That same night, Vanilla Ice was cracked for pulling a gun on somebody in the parking lot.” Coincidence? I think not.

How about Aron’s Records? “You can see lots of musicians there, trading in their CDs for food money,” said one starving string-puller familiar with the practice. The same source also advises stargazers to check out “Sixth and Main,” the local Skid Row.

One obviously well-connected–i.e., rich–source sent the hoi polloi scattering along the beach at Malibu “any Sunday in August.” There, one might encounter David Geffen, Irving Azoff or Joe Smith strolling down the beach from their magnificent nearby estates.

But all this searching may, in the end, be fruitless. “A lot of people just don’t go out because they don’t want to be hassled,” said one observer.

Their ranks undoubtedly will increase upon today’s publication.

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