About five years ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Michael Walker, the author of "Laurel Canyon, The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood." In the book, I'm quoted as saying the following about the Troubadour, which I visited many times from 1970-1975ish.
FROM LAUREL CANYON THE INSIDE STORY OF ROCK AND ROLL'S LEGENDARY NEIGHBORHOOD. BY MICHAEL WALKER FABER & FABER 2006
As the Troubadour's fortunes declined and its prestige faded, the musicians who gave the club its specialness drifted away. "I stopped going to the Troubadour in 1974-75," says Stevens. "That was the last time you sensed that it was a place you'd still run into the old crowd. By then they were all kind of rich and famous. People were on the road, everyone was always out of town, so you didn't see anybody." The days were over when Stevens could pass an afternoon with Janis Joplin at the Troubadour bar, 'Just the two of us getting mildly bombed and hitting on this surfer guy who got frightened off because we were getting a bit much for him, so we went outside and some people had left a couple bicycles against the wall, and we started riding around on the railroad tracks, screaming and falling off, having a great time. It seemed like every time you went down there something like that was going on, some little drama."
But she also remembered the jockeying of young musicians at the bar, looking for an opening, anything to get ahead. "It wasn't, 'Oh, let's go down and we'll hang out and have a merry old time at the Troubadour.' There was absolutely an agenda going on. Glenn Frey - I've never seen a guy work a room like that guy could - whatever he could get, to get himself going for his career. He was very, very career-oriented. They all were. Anyone who pretends they weren't doing that is fooling themselves."
Michael's book went into millions of sales world-wide, and presaged what appears to be a revival of interest in the Troubadour club and what it means to the history of music, as well as Laurel Canyon and its influence.
The first blip on the radar was the lovely Reunion concert, featuring James Taylor and Carole King, which for me really recaptured the musical spirit of the place as it used to be, before younger bands of a different ilk took over and made it theirs, altering the architecture, changing the showroom, removing the tables and chairs, once set sideways on to the stage, [where everyone sat shoulder to shoulder, all able to see the stage without someone's head in the way], putting another bar in there, and so on. Standing room only nowadays, and they charge you to come in and drink in the bar. In the old days, you could drink at the bar and have your two drink minimum - or whatever your mileage was - and no need to see the show if you couldn't afford it. There were ways around that. The restrooms had to be visited, after being in the bar for a while, and then you could lurk about at the back of the showroom, catching however many minutes you could of the on-stage action, before Bob Marchese marched down from his post by the door to remind you to either get back to the bar or go buy a ticket. He was usually pretty fair about lurking, though.