Sunday, August 16, 2009
1814 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA--Regency Ballroom, Oakland, CA
The Leamington Hotel in Oakland was a downtown hotel that had fallen into disuse by the 1960s as fewer and fewer visitors actually stayed in hotels downtown. It was used briefly as a rock venue, initially for "teen" dances around 1966, and also for one psychedelic show with a widely circulated poster.
On February 10, 1967, The Funny Company presented The Sparrow, The Widlflower, The Living Children and The Immediate Family at The Regency Ballroom. The Sparrow, then based in Sausalito, later evolved into Steppenwolf; The Wildflower were an Oakland-based band who were Fillmore and Avalon regulars; The Living Children were the finest psychedelic band in Fort Bragg, CA; and The Immediate Family, with guitarist Tim Barnes, were a popular Contra Costa County band.
This intriguing foray into psychedelia was rare for Oakland, and never repeated at my knowledge at The Regency Ballroom. The venue was small, parking was probably difficult, public transport non-existent and the police almost certainly intolerant. Although the bands seem excellent today, and were probably a lot of fun in concert, they all would have been fairly unknown at the time. Although the site has obviously changed, the ballroom was plainly quite small by late 1960s standards, and even if the venue was full it would not have generated the kind of revenue needed to sustain a rock ballroom like The Fillmore or Avalon.
I visited the site of The Leamington Hotel, at 1814 Franklin Street on August 7, 2009, and took photos of the interior (above) and exterior of the building. I assume the pretty colored glass in the center of the building is a remnant of the Regency Ballroom--it must have looked nice when it was part of a light show. The Leamington Hotel, now called "The Leamington", is basically an office building with a few shops and restaurants. In the 1980s, there was a good pizza place in the building (Da Vinci's), which is how I am aware of it.