By Diamond Bodine Fischer
We asked multiple sources, they all confirmed, this is really happening, this is real life! Seemingly without warning the Music Box at The Henry Fonda has closed their doors. We have no statements from the owners, but several sources have confirmed. The Music Box was hands down one of the best places to see live music in LA. It seems like only yesterday they threw their post remodel re-opening party with champagne filled gift bags and performances by Lucent Dossier.
Today, they entered the beautifully decorated lush establishment, put a “Closed for Inventory” sign on the door and proceeded to dismantle the amazing sound system, astounding in house lighting and bar. Then remove them from the building. After speaking to a couple staff members and promoters it would appear that nobody had been warned this was coming.
Generally when a Hollywood club closes shop it’s a long slow decent into the financial red and comes not as a shock, but a mournful sigh of knowing the “lights out” day was on the way. The Music Box however showed no signs of this sort. They recently hosted Morrissey and have enormous shows this month with ATB and Angels and Airwaves.
After speaking with our sources, they seem to agree that in hindsight there were a couple red flags, but nothing any rational person would have taken to mean the club was closing. The staff had been told that the venue was working on a new agreement with the landlord and it would be settled soon – not uncommon for venues in LA.
According to one of our sources after the Pee Wee Herman shows were moved from the Music Box to Club Nokia, two of the three owners opted to sell their shares and leave the business – again, not uncommon for venues in LA. When the new owners were brought in nobody informed the landlord of the change. It was only after the death of one of the past owners that the landlord became aware. For months the current owners and the landlord clashed until finally, the landlord served an eviction.
Unfortunately without a new owner lined up the venue’s permits with the city will lapse and whoever wants to open up a new club will have to reapply and wait for new permits, a timely and excessively expensive task. Sadly, it looks like it will be a long time before the doors at The Fonda are opened again. They should have pulled some Weekend at Bernies stuff and kept the Music Box going, it was a really great sound system.
UPDATE 11:46 a.m. We are hearing from various promoter pals around town who have events coming up at the Box, that venue will be closed only temporarily and will be going through “a new ownership.” We hope it’s true and if it’s not, that somebody with big bucks will come in and make it so! More here as the story develops…. -LL
UPDATE 12:02 p.m. Our peeps at LA Weekly have Goldenvoice’s official statement about the closure here.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m. By Diamond Bodine Fischer– Rumors that Goldenvoice was potentially taking over the space at The Henry Fonda have been quietly circulating for weeks without any substantial evidence. With the eviction of the Music Box business owners those rumors are getting louder. Goldenvoice’s press release this morning makes no mention of a take over but our sources insist that the deal between the Henry Fonda property owner and Goldenvoice is almost complete. They go on to tell us that this deal is going to happen fast, really fast. The hope is that none of the permits or licenses will lapse. If they are able to keep everything current then the doors at the Fonda could be opened again without the massive cost and time delay of reapplying with the city.
Note: there has been some confusion with some readers regarding the difference between property owner and business owner. Most venues in LA have a property owner who owns the land and building as well as a business owner who owns the business within the building. The business owner then leases the space from the property owner.
The owner of The Henry Fonda property has evicted the Music Box business owners. Goldenvoice is rumored to be taking over the business within. There is no word on what the name, decor or theme would be. -DBF
Photo above from LAist.com.