By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
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By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
"I used to always say, If you want to fill a club, you could always have 25-cent beers and a wet T-shirt contest, but I don't really want to be in a room that's doing that," he offers as explanation before bringing up his early time at Avalon Boston, when it was called Spit and hosted the nascent punk- and new-wave scenes. Thirty years later, Lyons still enjoys promoting new music. "I like having the breeding ground for new talent. We made a commitment to it and said we're just going to block out the calendar and go for it."
The more time you spend with John Lyons, the more you want to hear his stories. This is the guy who bought his first club from Studio 54 impresarios Steve Rubel and Ian Schrager after their arrest for tax evasion. Lyons recalls a time when dance clubs had a live drummer to play along with the records to make up for the lack of low end in pre-sub-woofer loudspeakers. He's a guy who opened the first House of Blues in Boston with pal Dan Akroyd (an investor in Avalon).
These days, you might catch the friends together at Bardot, the lounge on the top floor of Avalon, where Lyons' favorite event takes place every Thursday: A weekly open-mic gig that invites everyone from American Idol's Ryan Starr and Australian electro-pop star Sam Sparro to perform a sort-of live karaoke. Lyons is particularly enthusiastic about a still-unknown singer named LP, who regularly performs.
Even in his 60s, Lyons still closes out his club, staying until the last drawer is counted and the last security guard hands in his walkie-talkie. With such longevity, it's little wonder his clubs survive in a world where the competition comes and goes.
"I never understood paying too much attention to what the competition is doing," he says. "I'd rather take that time and energy and put it into improving my own business."