Stars, Cars and Guitars: Gibson GuitarTown Debuts on the Sunset Strip

Cherie Currie and son Jake Hays with The Runaways guitar by artist Sonia Lopez-Chavez.
Cherie Currie and son Jake Hays with The Runaways guitar by artist Sonia Lopez-Chavez.
Lina Lecaro

A drive down the Sunset Strip always promises a few things: flashy billboards, rockin' (usually studded) get-ups, beckoning marquees and maddeningly slow-moving cars. Now there's something fun to look at next time you're inching along in S.S. cruiserville.

Yesterday, Gibson unveiled its public art project called GuitarTown, which features 26 10-foot-tall Les Paul guitar sculptures dotting the famous boulevard, each celebrating a rock god or music moment from the Strip's colorful history.

The Doors, Motley Crue, Jimi Hendrix, The Roxy's Lou Adler, Slash, Cheech & Chong and The Runaways (see above) are just a few of the bands and personalities paid tribute in these unique axes, each one by a local artist. Some pieces evoked a period of time or music movement associated with The Strip, such as that of Shamrock Tattoo's Mark Mahoney (on hand for the event). His piece depicted the heavies who shaped nightclub culture in the area in the '30s and '40s.

The event yesterday afternoon began with a ribbon cutting ceremony and vintage car procession down the Strip. We missed this part because --you guessed it--we were stuck in traffic!

We did get to see the fascinating new photo exhibit at The Comedy Store --part of the evening's Block Party festivities-- featuring its stellar comic alumni (Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, and many more) and the space's famous regulars when it was Ciros nightclub (Dean Martin, Jane Mansfield). The Store's marketing director/photo show curator Alf Lamont, tells us the photos will be up indefinitely, so check it out. It's a must-see for entertainment and LA history buffs.

Jimi Rocks by Bruce Bermudez
Jimi Rocks by Bruce Bermudez
Lina Lecaro

GuitarTown's big centerpiece bash was at The Rainbow, where a presentation with West Hollywood officials was held in the parking lot, and brought out our pal Rodney Bingeheimer aka "The Mayor of the Sunset Strip," Brian Wilson (whose likeness graces a sculpture), Cherie Currie, Matt Sorum, Slim Jim Phantom and Vicky Hamilton (original manager for all the bands who blasted from the Rainbow's patio during the party: Guns n' Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat) to name a few.

Star Chords by Jodi Bohassi
Star Chords by Jodi Bohassi
Lina Lecaro

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Currie, fresh off her opening slot for former Runaways bandmate Joan Jett at the Orange County Fair on Wednesday night, gave us some great info on her new music plans.

As was unveiled at the OC gig, she's got a brand new band which includes Sorum on the skins and her own son Jake Hays (a musician and tattoo artist) on the guitar. She says the band is currently working on new music too! We've been promised early scoop about any upcoming gigs and material, so check back here.

As for a possible Runways reunion, well partial reunion --as in Joan, Cherie and Lita together on stage-- Joan's longtime manager Kenny Laguna, who was also at the event (his first time back to the Rainbow since '84) said it is still "being discussed." We'll take a title from the band's Live in Japan, 1977 LP, to say what we think about this: "C'mon," already ladies! Especially after the bio-pic, people want it!

Gibson GuitarTown's debut follows a seven month beautification project (that made traffic there worse for all of us, but is now thankfully completed). It will be up for display for six months, after which the works will be available for purchase at a Gala Auction with proceeds going to charity. Click here for art locations and more info. and check them out yourself by foot or auto, when the Sunset Strip Music Festival and Street Fest, takes over the boulevard for music performances by The Smashing Pumpkins, Slash, Common, and more on Aug. 26-28.

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