Friday, August 28, 2009

4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA: Cabana Hotel, "Tune-In" November 10, 1967

The Cabana Hotel, at 4290 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, was Palo Alto's most glamorous hotel. It was so glamorous, in fact, that it was completely out of place in Palo Alto. The hotel was built in 1962 by entrepreneur Jay Sarno, and Doris Day was one of the original investors. The flashy, Roman-themed design was apparently the blueprint for Caesar's Palace. The Cabana has a permanent place in South Bay mythology because The Beatles stayed there when they played San Francisco in 1965.

Out of place in Palo Alto The Cabana may have been, but it was the primary spot for important social events like debutante balls. In fact, the Jefferson Airplane played the "Step 'N Time" Gala there on May 22, 1966. For the most part, however, the Cabana featured traditional lounge acts, playing jazz and supper club music. Even The Cabana could feel the blowing winds, however, as their featured show for Friday night, November 10 was

The sights, sounds and styles of the San Francisco psychedelic scene will be seen and heard at the Cabana Hotel, in Palo Alto. A one-night only performance, produced by Sarah Urquhart and Jerry Booker, tonight's "Tune-In" will be for adults only. Two wild groups, Howl and the West Coast Natural Gas Company, will perform throughout the evening.

West Coast Natural Gas had formed in Seattle, and had been invited to San Francisco by their manager, Mathew Katz. Katz had been the manager of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, but his parting with those groups was quite bitter (he was in litigation for the Airplane for at least two decades, and he remains in litigation with Moby Grape as of this writing). Katz had been the Airplane's manager when they had played the Cabana the previous year, so perhaps he had a connection there.

Needless to say, I know no one who ever saw this show. In 1968, for reasons unknown to the band, shortly after West Coast Natural Gas arrived in the Bay Area, Katz changed their name to Indian Pudding And Pipe. The Cabana Hotel was sold to Hyatt House in the late 60s, as Sardo had built Caesar's Palace (in 1966), and it is now the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, and it has since been remodeled. While this makes business sense, the original Cabana was Palo Alto's only true kitsch landmark--and anyway The Beatles stayed there.

(The clipping is from the November 10, 1967 edition of The San Mateo Times)

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