Monday, October 12, 2009

the LA scene wouldn't have been what it was without him

Club promoter Brendan Mullen dies
Founded legendary punk club Masque

Brendan Mullen, the promoter-entrepreneur who founded Hollywood's legendary punk rock launching pad the Masque, died Monday in Los Angeles hospital after suffering a massive stroke.

A Scotsman by birth, Mullen emigrated from London to Los Angeles in 1973. He created the Masque -- a dank, soon graffiti-scarred 10,000-foot space at 1655 N. Cherokee, behind and beneath the Pussycat adult theater on Hollywood Boulevard -- in June 1977 as a low-rent rehearsal space for local musicians. (Mullen himself played drums in his own punk lounge act, the Satintones.)

It quickly morphed into the principal performance venue for the city's then-nascent punk scene, mounting its first show by the Skulls on Aug. 18, 1977. It served as a stage and a hangout for an honor roll of first-generation punk groups: the Germs, X, the Go-Go's, the Screamers, the Flesh Eaters, the Weirdos, the Alleycats, the Plugz, the Bags. The freewheeling Masque, where the charming and oft-acerbic Mullen hosted the proceedings, was a magnet for the antipathy of local merchants and daily
scrutiny by police, fire, and licensing officials, and was soon cited by city authorities for various licensing violations.

Closed and reopened more than once, it moved to another space on Santa Monica Boulevard before shuttering permanently in February 1979.

Mullen is seen in the abandoned Cherokee Avenue club in W.T. Morgan's 1986 documentary about X, "The Unheard Music." From 1981-92, Mullen booked shows at the Sunset Boulevard bar Club Lingerie. His diverse shows included sets by talent ranging from veteran R&B, blues, and rock 'n' roll acts to hip-hoppers and avant garde rockers. He also mounted dates at the downtown Variety Arts Center in the late '80s, and stage managed some of the L.A. Weekly's music awards shows.

In recent years, Mullen prolifically chronicled the history of L.A. punk, and, not incidentally, his own role in the scene.

His books included "We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk" (2001, with Marc Spitz); "Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs" (2002, with Don Bolles and Adam Parfrey); and the photo history "Live at the Masque: Nightmare in Punk Alley" (2007). He also authored the Jane's Addiction oral history "Whores" (2005). Mullen is survived by his longtime companion Kateri Butler.

Terribly sad - I never got to the Masque, but what would these bands have done without him?
Of course, he did much more after the Masque closed, including Club Lingerie, where my bands played many times and I saw innumerable shows.