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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

David Adickes - Love Street Light Circus and More

love street light circus

As a painter David Adickes endeavored to portray the eternal and timeless. As the creator and original owner of Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine, Adickes made something that was very much a product of its time. Though it only lasted three years, Love Street is still spoken of reverentially by those who still have memories of Houston’s psychedelic heyday. It is fitting, then, for Love Street to provide the name and inspiration for our organization and this event.

Love Street, the night club, had its inspiration during a visit that Adickes made to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve in 1966. He was captivated by the projected light shows at the Fillmore Auditorium. Upon returning to Houston, Adickes bought an overhead projector and began developing his own light shows. While giving a demonstration of his new light show for a colleague at the art department at Sam Houston State, Adickes created an impromptu “happening” consisting of projections on a white sheet enhanced with silhouettes of dancers from the modern dance department, topped off with a mix of loud rock music. It was not until he paid a courtesy visit to an abandoned building downtown, however, that Adickes experienced the frisson of creation that would lead to the opening of Love Street.

In early 1967, several real estate investors approached Adickes about opening a painting studio in an abandoned building behind the Sunset Coffee warehouse located on Commerce Street between Main and Fannin. When he saw the third floor of the building, Adickes felt what he called “satori” (a moment of enlightment) and knew that this space would be perfect for a night club that not only featured a state-of-the-art light show but would provide an environment for the patrons to fully absorb the psychedelic experience. Following the fashion of the time, the club was given its hyper-ornate name and was known as “Love Street”.

To access Love Street, one climbed three flights of metal stairs to the top floor. (If you performed at Love Street, you had to lug your gear up the same three flights.) The area between the bathrooms was covered with striking back light posters featuring the striking stare of Theda Bara and promising “Flop Down 3-D Total Environment Happening with Zonk Outs” and “Lights and Sound Explosions for the Love Generation”. The focal point of the club was the stage at the rear, flanked to either side by small platforms for go-go dancers. The feature that set Love Street apart from other clubs was the “zonk out” area starting near the foot of the stage and extending to the back of the club. The zonk out area was filled with giant mattresses and hundreds of colored pillows, allowing patrons to lie supine and take in the band and the light show.

The light show operated from a catwalk balcony above the zonk out area. The light show artists would project images on the walls alongside the stage while simultaneously projecting a series of oil-based, pulsing embryonic or geometric figures on a screen behind the performers on stage. Flanking the light show set up was a room known as the “photo prop room”. Adickes would select patrons to come upstairs to pose for pictures, drawing items from a giant pile of costumes, props and other miscellany. Adickes would then use the pictures as part of the next day’s slide show. While the use of patron’s pictures in the slide show helped encourage return customers, it backfired somewhat when members of the Bandito biker band became the subject of a slide show. After the Banditos became more frequent guests at Love Street, the Bandito slides somehow went missing and, disappointed, the Banditos moved on.

After Adickes sold his interest in Love Street, the house light show for Love Street was known as Jelly Wall Eyes Pack (JWEP), led by “Wizard” aka Greg Lloyd. The JWEP employed two slide projectors and four overheard projectors enhanced by mirror balls, color wheels, and strobe lights.

For its debut show on June 3, 1967, Love Street featured a triple bill of The Red Crayola, The Starvation Army (the Love Street house band), and Fever Tree. The Red Crayola were fairly unconventional, even by the standards of the time, and tended to play in a fairly dissonant fashion. When the Red Crayola started its set, several of Adickes’ patrons from River Oaks thought the band was merely warming up, much like an orchestra tuning its instruments. When it became obvious that the band intended to sound that way, his patrons expressed their condolences to Adickes and never returned. The band made enough of an impression that one of Love Street’s original owners, Lafayette Herring, an albino, became known as “The White Crayon.”

Although it was only open for three years, Love Street hosted a number of local and national musical luminaries. Notable artists who played Love Street include The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Johnny Winters, Bubble Puppy, the Moving Sidewalks (Billy Gibbons’ high school band). Love Street’s most notable contribution to Houston musical history was serving as the venue for ZZ Top’s first shows on July 4th and 5th, 1969. Houston’s underground newspaper, the Space City News, offered this listing: “Z*Z* Top featuring Bill Gibbons, Dan Mitchell and Lanier Gregg (Mitchell used to be with the Moving Sidewalk and Gregg was with the Fanatics; this should be a good new sound.)”

Alas, Love Street did not last long. It closed its doors after approximately three years. The Love Street building -- now painted green -- still close to Allen’s Landing, at the confluence of the White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. Although it has remained empty for almost 40 years, it is slated for redevelopment in the near future.

Love Street was a brief chapter in David Adickes storied career. Adickes was born in 1927 and later received his degree at Sam Houston College in 1948. Adickes studied painting in Paris with Ferdinand Leger from 1948 to 1950. Adickes spent much of the 1950’s and 1960’s traveling and exhibiting his paintings around the world.

While Adickes has been a painter for over 50 years, he is best known for his work as a sculptor. In 1983, he completed his first commission as a sculptor, “Virtuoso,” which stands outside the Lyric Center. Ten years later, Adickes unveiled a 76-foot statue of Sam Houston alongside Interstate 45 in Huntsville. Beginning in 1996, Adickes undertook construction of two President’s parks, one in the Black Hills of South Dakota , and the other in Williamsburg, Virginia. Each park features 18 to 20 foot busts of each United States president. Yet another set of presidential busts will be unveiled in Pearland within the next year.

Adickes’ artwork is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence in the area near downtown Houston. In addition to Virtuoso and a 20 foot sculpture, “Looking Forward” near the rail line at Main Street and Leeland, Adickes recently placed busts of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on land alongside eastbound Interstate 10, a monument he dubbed “Mount Rush Hour”. Adickes’ most recent sculptures, 36-foot painterly renderings of The Beatles, can be seen at his SculptorWorx studio before they are moved near I-10 in the near future.

Adickes most recent creation is the “Super Tree”, a man-made tree covered with ivy leaves. The Super Tree is designed to furnish shade and cool air in areas where large hardwood trees do not grow. Not only could the Super Trees be arranged into interlinked groupings, they can be equipped with misting systems to drop temperatures, sound systems, and decorative lighting system.


By John Spiller

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can't mention Love Street without mentioning these guys.
One of the greatest garage bands to play at Love street.
check out 1960's garage bands Big Sweet for more songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZAn5dBApdc

slkaiser said...

I spent over 100 evenings on the mattresses. Saw 13th floor elevators 10 times probably. Saw Johnny and Edgar Winter and even Lightnin Hopkins there. and all the rest of the Texas and other bands. I'm 62 now but this place will be remembered forever. O live in Portland, OR now but

Anonymous said...

Tell International Artists to find Big Sweet. They were one of the best bands at Love Street Light Circus. I loved the song Rolling River..

dickiem said...

I got ''ROLLING RIVER'' I wrote it in 1969. ''Keep on rolling, the river won't run dry''
DICKIE MALONE singer/bass player/Big Sweet

Anonymous said...

OK, if you have the song Rolling River "by BIG SWEET" Bring it forward. Big Sweet is a missing link from International Artist Recording Co. They were a Love Street Light Circus movement. Never noticed by Corporations and Snakes in a Suit. The perfect Garage Band during the civil rights movement. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Saw Big Sweet many times at Love Street. Orville was the best drummer of his time. What happened to their music, and where did International Artists get the Demos on You Tube.

precog1111 said...

I'd like some info on Love Street, the building...also check out a Houston group I shot a promo for in 1968 Deuce is Wild. I think they played LS...not sure. Some of the film I shot of them was inside the Catacombs.
Also, just prior to the Elevators loosing Roky to Rusk, Ray Rush told me he wanted me to shoot two promo films for their soon-to-be-released single *May The Circle Remain Unbroken* Sadly, that never happened. What became of Ray?

http://austinnewsstory.com/TIPF/DallasPopFestival_1969/DallasPopFestival1969.html

Al W. said...

I used to be a manager at Houston Blacklight and Poster Co. which was across the street from Love Street. In fact, my wife and I met at the head shop there. I have many memories of Love Street. Those were good times. Al

Anonymous said...

I am attempting to write a historical fiction novel, and I need some information regarding The Children of God or The Texas Soul Clinic cults drumming up recruits in Allen's Landing area during 1969 and 1970. From research, I know they were in the Houston area camping out in nearby state parks,and coming to the inner city working street corners etc. I feel certain they must have been in the Allen's Landing too since that area was a caldron of young people searching for their identities through new experiences. Any shared memories would be greatly appreciated. Although I am a native Houstonian, I was not old enough at the time to be a part of the love Street scene; therefore, I have no experience from which to draw information. You may contact me at Mistywind49@aol.com. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am attempting to write a historical fiction novel, and I need some information regarding The Children of God or The Texas Soul Clinic cults drumming up recruits in Allen's Landing area during 1969 and 1970. From research, I know they were in the Houston area camping out in nearby state parks,and coming to the inner city working street corners etc. I feel certain they must have been in the Allen's Landing too since that area was a caldron of young people searching for their identities through new experiences. Any shared memories would be greatly appreciated. Although I am a native Houstonian, I was not old enough at the time to be a part of the love Street scene; therefore, I have no experience from which to draw information. You may contact me at Mistywind49@aol.com. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Weren't The Red House the houseband of LS in '69?

Anonymous said...

Al W. - If my feeble memory serves, the headshop around the corner from Love Street was called the "Underground Railroad.

jackie said...

your right about the head shop's name the black light poster co. was upstairs above the shop. anyone remember the club al opened across the street right by the railroad tracts. he even tried to form a girls band. never worked out. by the way i was known as jackie star and i lost the monkey that the elevators used to have.

Anonymous said...

Any info on SHAYDE? They played Love Street many times, and were also with International Artists in Houston.

Sirena said...

What happened to all the pictures my mom & I hung out there I was 4 in 69' I have vivid memories! I sold old newspapers for a penny!