Monday, March 2, 2015

Celeb R.E.: Allison Janney Lists Starter Home in Studio City


Image courtesy Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Back on January 5, 2015, this site blogged about Allison Janney's purchase of a second Studio City home on October 6, 2014 for $3.25 million. Now comes word from the always informative Lauren Beale at LA Times Hot Property on February 5, 2015 that Janney has now listed her starter home on February 4, 2015 for $1,495,000 which at the time of writing this post is in a pending status. 

Janney has been acting since 1984 where she has performed in a variety of films, TV shows, and Broadway plays. She is also a six-time Primetime Emmy Award winner and has been nominated for two Tony Awards in theatre. Currently she is the star on TV's Masters of Sex and Mom

The home measures 3 Beds/2 Baths on 1,925 sqft on a total lot size of 0.56 acres built in 1950. The listing description states:
Celebrity-owned traditional home located south of The Blvd. in a private, rustic setting. Expansive double lot with solar heated pool & large covered outdoor dining area surrounded by mountains, trees and lush greenery. 3 bedrooms plus Bonus office area with built-ins. Renovated chef's kitchen with stainless steel appliances, Viking 6-burner cooktop, refrigerator & convection oven, Caesarstone counters & center island. Large living/family room with fireplace, crown mouldings, wood floors & built-ins. Private master suite with vaulted wood beam ceilings & luxurious bathroom with claw foot tub. Charming property with stone path leading up to a tranquil viewing deck and a tiki bar/lounge area. Highly sought after location close to popular shops & restaurants, studios, and convenient access to the Westside.
Janney purchased this home for $799,000 on May 31, 2001 and stands to gain $696,000 based on the current asking price not factoring in expenses.

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

BTTF# 28: Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy was a Pet Store Owner and Apartment Landlord in the SFV

Image courtesy Toboldlygo Tumblr
Welcome aboard the Delorean! 

Image courtesy Wikipedia
Marty McFly here to take you on a special journey to explore the former Leonary Nimoy's Pet Pad located at 8366 Topanga Canyon Blvd Canoga Park in addition to some other properties owned by Leonard Nimoy in the SFV.  The Delorean has the required plutonium plus some random garbage in the Mr. Fusion reactor ready for this trip. The time circuits are set to March 1969 and the flux capacitor is......fluxxing. The engine is running (not stalled this time) so we need to hurry. Hang on, as the ride can be a little bumpy as we travel back in time.
Image courtesy Leonardnimoy.de
By 1969, Leonard Nimoy was an accomplished actor famously known for playing "Spock" in the TV series, Star Trek, which first aired in 1966 and ended in 1969 after 71 episodes. Afterwards, Nimoy appeared in Mission: Impossible which started in 1969 and ended in 1971 after 49 episodes. During the 1969 year, Nimoy was not famously known for opening a pet store in Canoga Park called Pet Pad. The article from Michele Jacques titled His New World in 1970 (magazine not known) best describes Nimoy's fascination with animals: 
Along with this Leonard decided to realize a long-time dream. To open a pet shop.… with all the kinds of animals available that he often wished he see in other shops he frequented. So now LeonardNimoy’s Pet Pad,” which is located in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley, stocks chipmunks, monkies, crocodiles, boa constrictors, a South American Otter and, of course, cats and dogs, just to mention a few. But the cats and dogs are not just the ordinary variety we find anywhere. They are all sorts of exotic and rare types. Leonard also has a tortoise which runs free in his backyard, His children love it, and take excellent care of it. Probably better care than they would of any “ordinary” animal.
Image courtesy Toboldlygo Tumblr
I am not sure why Nimoy picked Canoga Park for his pet store location which in 1969 was on the cusp of explosive growth and still contained pockets of empty land. This location was nowhere near his home which I believe was either in the Hollywood, West LA, or Beverly Hills area according to the MovieLand Directory. And I dont believe he owned any ranch or secondary home near Canoga Park in the late 60's but I could be wrong. The only conclusion I could make is that he chose this location as he might have been working with a business partner who was managing the store and lived nearby. Unfortunately, the store didnt last long and was shutdown possibly in 1971 but the reason for the close and actual date is unknown. 

Images courtesy Cinema Treasures
On an unrelated note, next door to the Pet Pad was the Holiday Theatre (click here for 80's image) which included a 5' or 6' wall that divided the parking lot from the Ped Pad essentially preventing anyone to easily walk to the theater. The theatre was closed sometime in the 80's and I think the wall was taken down in the early 2000's. 


Now its time to jump in the Delorean and head back to the future where the former Pet Pad store has now become the Pho CT Vietnamese restaurant. The building still remains but has undergone some facade and aesthetic changes. In the past, I remember this location was most recently an Enterprise Car Rental and in the early 90's an electronics store. 

While researching this post also found out the Nimoy was an apartment investor in the SFV. So a lucky few individuals have the distinction of being tenants of Nimoy or living in a former Nimoy apartment building.  

Image courtesy Bing
Image courtesy Google Maps
The first apartment was located at 5235 Corteen Place Valley Village 91607 (shown above) known as Corteen Towers that measures 35 units with 51 Beds/57 Baths on 42,506 sqft on a total lot size of 0.79 acres built in 1963. Its not known when Nimoy acquired the building but I am guessing sometime in the 70's or 80's. However, Nimoy did sell on June 16, 2006 for $5 million. 

Image courtesy Bing
Image courtesy Google Maps
The second apartment was located at 14400 Addison Street Sherman Oaks 91423 (shown above) known as Terraces at the Oaks (formerly Oxford Apartments) which measures 55 units with 80 Beds/97 Baths on 72,490 sqft on a total lot size of 1.37 acres built in 1963. Its not known when Nimoy acquired the building but I am guessing sometime in the 70's or 80's. However, Nimoy did sell on September 23, 2004 for $8 million. 

Image courtesy Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
As a bonus, Nimoy purchased a Sherman Oaks home (shown above) that was later transferred to his daughter Julie. The home was purchased on April 22, 2011 for $1.1 million and measures 4 Beds/3 Baths on 2,112 sqft on a total lot size of 0.26 acres built in 1951. The listing description states: 
Located in a prime neighborhood on the border of Royal Oaks, this 4 bed, 2.5 bath traditional home is filled w/ natural light from its many picture windows & glass doors. A step from the darling front porch & into the home reveals an open floor plan w/ peg 'n groove wood floors, crown mouldings, & warm designer paint colors. The elegant living room features a floor-to-ceiling brick frplc w/ ornate mantle, & large picture window. An open dining area easily accommodates additional guests for dinner. The pristine kitch includes tile counters, recessed lighting, menu-planning center, & stainless steel appliances. Adjacent to the kitchen, the family room has wood floors & glass doors to the yard. Wood floors & plantation shutters enhance each spacious bedroom, & the master suite contains its own ensuite bath and built-in desk w/ picture window overlooking the yard. An oversized bonus room may make the ideal 4th bedroom, also w/ wood floors, crown mouldings, & plantation shutters. Outside, a brick lounging patio look sout to an expansive grassy yard w/ sparkling pool, spa, & pergola - covered dining patio w/ built-in barbeque island. Located in the coveted Lanai Road Elementary School district & part of the sought-after Encino little league district.
Image courtesy Bing
The second bonus is Nimoy's main home (shown above) is located in Bel Air near the Hotel Bel Air. The home measures 3 Beds/5 Baths on 6,051 sqft on a total lot size of 1,07 acres built in 1945. The purchase price and date is unknown.

Images courtesy Tahoe Luxury Properties
The third and final bonus is Nimoy's one time Lake Tahoe home (shown above) which measures 4 Beds/4 Baths on 4,013 sqft on an unknown lot size built in 1979. Nimoy acquired this property on January 2, 1992 for $895,000 and sold on May 5, 2014 for $4,788,000 due to his declining health. This home was featured in the Sacramento Business Journal

This post was a tribute to Leonard Nimoy who passed away at the age of 83 on February 27, 2015 due to complications from COPD. The quote from Matt Atchity, Editor-in-Chief, Rotten Tomatoes best describes Nimoy's legacy: 
His legacy as that character is key to the enjoyment of Star Trek. The way that Spock was used as a device for the writers to examine humanity and examine what it meant to be human, that's really what Star Trek was all about. And in finding Leonard Nimoy, they found the perfect person to portray that. "
 You can view more SFV Back to the Future series here
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Celeb R.E.: Former LA Clipper Kenyon Martin Lists Woodland Hills Home at a Potential Loss



Images courtesy Rodeo Realty
The always informative folks at LA Times Hot Property revealed on February 3, 2015 that NBA player and former LA Clipper, Kenyon Martin, has listed his Woodland Hills home for $1,850,000 on February 2, 2015. A few weeks after Martin listed his home, he was waived by his current team, the Milwaukee Bucks, on February 19, 2015 which seems coincidental or Martin knew something was coming as career is most likely over at the age of 37. 

The home measures 6 Beds/6.5 Baths on 5,600 sqft on a total lot size of 0.62 acres built in 2006. The listing description states:
Newly built in 2006 gorgeous private & gated Mediterranean estate in highly desirable Walnut Acres with full guest house on 27k flat usable lot; main house is 4BR plus 5th bonus room/media room/ or 5th BR; guest house is 2+2 with full kitchen; finest finishes including tumbled travertine flooring throughout, high ceilings, bar & fireplace in LR; chef's kitchen with stainless appliances & large center island, and breakfast nook overlooking entertainer's yard featuring gorgeous pool & spa with waterfall feature, large built-in BBQ center, grassy lawns, firepit, sport court, fully landscaped; romantic master suite with fireplace, french doors opening to yard, his & hers walk-in closets, private master bath with sunken tub & glass tiled shower; security gated with circular driveway, plus long stamped concrete drive back to 3-car garage plus RV access & room for a dozen cars! Walnut Acres is adjacent to Warner Center with the finest dining & shopping, minutes to the beach & PCH, easy freeway access; zoned for all three highly desirable award-winning schools all recently charter & ranked among the highest schools in the state!
Martin purchased the home on August 10, 2007 for $1,850,000 near the peak of the housing bubble and if a bidding war doesnt ensue, Martin will most likely take a loss after factoring commissions and other expenses.
Image courtesy Google Maps
Image courtesy Bing Maps
In addition to the Woodland Hills home, Martin also owns 2 separate homes next to each other over an 8 acre spread in Dalworthington Gardens (outside Arlington), Texas which features a pond, full basketball court, bowling alley, pecan orchard, 10 car garage, and just about every other amenity. Martin purchased this home on September 12, 2008 for $3 million and is currently listing it for sale for $5 million which appears to be in a pending status since October 8, 2014. You can view pics of the property which Martin has been trying to sell since 2012.

Martin was previously living in the Greenwood Village area of Colorado when he played for the Denver Nuggets which Martin sold to move to Woodland Hills. It's possible Martin didnt live in the Woodland Hills home much as his estranged wife might be the occupant but that is speculation. One possible home location for Martin might be back to Texas as he owns a pair of homes in the Cedar Hill, TX where he played high school basketball at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas and might be returning to his roots.  

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here
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Celeb R.E.: Actor Max Martini Best Known for Playing Military Roles Lists Toluca Lake 1930's Home



Images courtesy John Aaroe Group
The always informative Lauren Beale at LA Times Hot Property revealed on January 27, 2015 that actor, Max Martini, has listed his Toluca Lake home for $1,850,000 on January 26, 2015. Martini is best known for playing military roles in the films Saving Private Ryan, Level 9, The Great Raid, Captain Phillips, and on the TV drama, The Unit

The home measures 3 Beds/3 Baths on 2,145 sqft on a total lot size of 8,510 sqft built in 1934. The listing description states:
Beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bath home located on one of the most sought after streets in Toluca Lake. Light streams in through the large windows in the living room which features cathedral ceilings, a cozy brick fireplace, and adjoining office. Through the living room is a formal dining room with built-ins and large windows. The kitchen is light and bright with attached breakfast nook. The master suite has a large balcony overlooking the peaceful street, bathroom with dual vanities, soaking tub and walk-in closet. This home also boasts hardwood floors, crown moldings, built-ins for extra storage, laundry room as well as a two-car garage. The large, grassy backyard features a large patio area, perfect for outdoor entertaining!
Martini purchased the home on November 30, 2006 for $1,560,000 near the peak of the housing bubble and is looking to earn a a modest gain of $290,000 not factoring expenses. 

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Celeb R.E.: Catherine Bell of JAG and Army Wives Lists Hidden Hills Home after Less Than A Year


Images courtesy Sotheby's International Realty
The always Your Mama at Variety Realestalker revealed back on January 23, 2015 that JAG and Army Wives actress, Catherine Bell, purchased a Hidden Hills home back on April 17, 2014 for $2,050,000. A few days later, said home, was actually popped on the market on January 28, 2015 for $2,699,000. Bell was born in London but is somewhat of a "Valley Girl" as she attended Our Lady of Corvallis High School in Studio City which was an all-girls Catholic school that closed its doors for good in 1987 and merged with Notre Dame. 

The home measures 4 Beds/3 Baths on 3,380 sqft on 1.12 acres built in 1956. The listing description states:  
Darling single story 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath ranch home has been beautifully updated offering light wood floors through out, vaulted beam ceiling and chef's kitchen with stainless appliances, Carrera Marble counters and sunny breakfast nook. The master bedroom is a unique blend of country elegance with bricked fireplace, large bath and walk-in closet. Three secondary bedrooms are located in a separate wing of the home. The grounds include expansive grassy lawns, mature trees, brick patio, inviting pool and enclosed spa. Equestrian facilities include a three stall barn with tack and feed rooms, turn outs and exercise arena. Direct access to miles of riding trails and within minutes of one of the community arenas.
Prior to the Hidden Hills home, Variety mentioned that Bell may have been leasing but not confirmed the current Hidden Hills home of Eddie Cibrian and  LeAnn Rimes which was purchased on December 21, 2012 for $3 million and discussed on this blog

And prior to the speculative Hidden Hills rental, Bell was living over the fence in the gated Mureau Estates in Calabasas (discussed at Variety Realestalker back in 2007) that is also home to Selena Gomez discussed on this blog. That home measures 5 Beds/6 Baths on 5,676 sqft on a total lot size of 1.09 acres built in 2004. The home was purchased on May 12, 2005 for $2,580,000 at the height of housing bubble and sold for $635,000 loss for $1,945,000 to professional baseball player of the Minnesota Twins, Jason Kubel. You can catch home pictures of the Blake family here.  The listing description and pictures at the time Bell sold are below: 


Images courtesy Sotheby's International Realty
Priced to sell fast. Tuscan one-story in gated Mureau Estates on acres plus lot with huge flat lawns and serene mountain views. Motor court to domed entry and huge living room with beamed ceilings and hardwood floors overlooking verdant gardens. Huge master suite with walk ins plus 4 additional bedrooms with ensuite baths. Grand kitchen with stainless appliances and all the best. Complete smart house audio video and lighting controls plus home theatre with electronic reclining seats.  
Image courtesy Bing Maps
And prior to the Calabasas home, Bell was living in Sherman Oaks that measured 3 Beds/5 Baths on 3,981 sqft on a total lot size of 5,288 sqft built in 1991.  The property was purchased on June 26, 1998 for $765,000 and sold for a $115,500 gain for $880,500 on August 1, 2001. I am not sure where Bell lived after 2001 as its possible she rented in the LA area or out of state. 

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Celeb R.E.: Monica Keena from Entourage Sells Original Mellenthin House in Sherman Oaks



Note, the images above are from when Keena purchased in 2013. Images courtesy Rodeo Realty.
The always informative Lauren Beale at LA Times Hot Property revealed back on January 7, 2015 that Entourage star, Monica Keena (you can check Keena with Edward Furlong at El Torito in Sherman Oaks), has quietly sold her Sherman Oaks home. Surprisingly, the LA Times failed to mention that this house has architectural significance. This house is part of the original William Mellenthin estate which still retains his guesthouse and pool. The following quote from Sherman Oaks Patch can help shed light on the history of Mellenthin (also visit Paradise Leased for an excellent article about Mellenthin): 
The father, William Mellenthin was the founder of the company. His son, Michael, took over the company and built many houses in the San Fernando Valley.  Michael, is a resident of Studio City, and is a commercial property owner in Studio City.
Realtors still love to receive a listing of a Mellenthin home. They have a distinct design, with a bird cage at the top of the roof. They are known to keep their value even in a downturn.
William started building subdivisions in 1935.  One was Hidden Woods, located near Riverside Drive Elementary School. In Studio City in the 40's, and 50's, he built homes on Sunshine Terrace and Laurel Canyon Blvd.The Mellenthin home is still considered one of the best designed homes in the San Fernando Valley.
The home measures 3 Beds/2 Baths on 1,676 sqft on a total lot size of 10,776 sqft built in 1946. The listing description states:
BUYER IS NOT PERFORMING! Your Opportunity! Went into Multiples prior. Back on Market - nothing to do with property. Huge corner & private in the "Hidden Woods" pocket of Sherman Oaks; once part of the original William Mellenthin estate. Walled and gated pool property with free flowing one story traditional that has been restored over time and lovingly maintained. The pool is the centerpiece of this extra large, romantic lot that measures approximately 10,700 sq. feet. Ready for move-in - or expand! No Gate around pool.
The home was purchased on August 16, 2013 for $937,200 and sold on October 7, 2014 for $925,000 representing a loss of $12,500 not factoring in expenses with barely living in it for a year. Prior to the Sherman Oaks home, Keena was living in Mid City West according to Forbes which she also happened to live in for roughly a year. Keena seems to like to live in a home for only a year so maybe she should simply rent. 

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here and Architecture and R.E. here.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Celeb R.E.: Ashley Tisdale Moving Out of Toluca Lake


Above images courtesy LAMERICA
The always hilarious Your Mama at the Variety Realestalker broke the news on December 1, 2014 that former Disney star and singer, Ashley Tisdale, quietly listed her Toluca Lake home which was was originally listed on November 4, 2014 for $2,649,000 and later dropped on January 26, 2015 for $2.5 million. 

The home measures 3 Beds/2.5 Baths on 3,400 sqft on a total lot size of 5,915 sqft built in 2008. The listing description states:
The home is an extension of its residents, possessing the rare combination of beauty and brains. The attention to detail is extraordinary. The secure and serene setting of the home fosters a rich quality of life. The 3,406 square feet of home is well-appointed with a masterful floor plan. First, you walk past the gated front with built in security. Step into the home through the large living room with fireplace, the curved staircase will make you feel like you are home. As you head towards the back of the home you will see the media room ready for your gourmet popcorn and the open kitchen overlooking the family room. Continue through to the backyard and the saltwater pool and spa with built-in entertainment area. Go upstairs with the guest bedroom in the front that is currently used as a studio/office. Then as you walk toward the master and past the second bathroom, you'll see that one of the rooms has been lovingly set up to be the dream shoe closet any woman would ask for. Pass the main walk-in closet with a built-in island and into the master bedroom with a balcony overlooking the backyard and a stunning master bathroom worth drooling over.
Tisdale purchased on December 12, 2007 for $1,349,000 and looking to make a cool $1,150,000 which is not bad for buying near the peak of the market.

Image courtesy Bing Maps
On a related note, Tisdale's parents also reside in Toluca Lake (shown above) in a slightly smaller home meaursing 3 Beds/3 Baths on 2,820 sqft built in 1946 and purchased for $1,049,000 on April 24, 2006. 
Image courtesy Bing Maps
Prior to the Toluca Lake home, the Tisdale family was living in Santa Clarita (shown above) in a 3 Beds/3 Baths on 2,305 sqft on a total lot size of 0.75 acres built in 2001. The home was purchased on July 20, 2001 for $345,000 and sold for more than a double on August 14, 2006 for $775,000. 

Image courtesy Realty Executives
And prior to the Santa Clarita home, the Tisdale family was living in a modest Valencia home (shown above) measuring 3 Beds/1.75 Baths on 1,614 sqft on a total lot size of 5,785 sqft built in 1983. The home was purchased for $251,000 on December 3, 1999 and sold for a small gain on August 1, 2001 for $284,500. 

Dont know where Ashley Tisdale is heading to next but hopefully its still in the SFV. 

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here
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Celeb R.E.: Former Demi Lovato Rental in Toluca Lake Struggling to Sell Since 2012




Above images courtesy The Conroy Team Realtors
Back on December 1, 2014, gossip juggernaut, TMZ, started a battle with former Disney star and singer, Demi Lovato, claiming that she was struggling trying to sell a Toluca Lake home for the fourth time. Immediately afterwards, Demi fired back claiming that TMZ was partially correct with respect to the fact that she did occupy the home but only as a rental for 2 years when she was 15 but not actually owned it. TMZ quickly reacted by taking down their post and putting that false rumor to bed. 

So since this was a former Demi Lovato rental back in 2007, why not blog about it? It is currently available for $2,225,000 on October 22, 2014 and owned by a company called Absolute Investments, Inc with offices located in Midland, TX which purchased on June 24, 2011 for $1,530,000. 

The home measures 6 Beds/6.5 Baths on 5,086 sqft on a total lot size of 8,156 sqft built in 2007. The listing description states:
Majestic, custom three story Toluca Lake Mediterranean Villa with 6 Bedroom Suites, 7 Baths, fully equipped gourmet Kitchen, spectacular Family Room with Portico just steps from Pool and Spa. Both formal and informal Dining Rooms. Grand fireplace is focal point of the formal Living Room. Exquisite details accent the flowing floor plan. Ornate railings, rich wood floors, crown moldings, carved wood door, security entry, impressive foyer. Master Bedroom Retreat features spa-like bathroom, very spacious dressing room with library just outside on the second floor landing. Top floor bedroom suite could easily be a getaway media/gameroom or artist's studio. First floor bedroom suite could be office/maid's quarters. Near major studios, Lakeside Country Club, downtown village shops and restaurants. This home has it all!
The current owner has been trying to sell since 2012 when first heaved it on the market on August 7 for $1,799,000 where its been on and off the market ever since where it reached as high as $2,399,000 on October 1, 2013. The home is conveniently located to many stars so here is a small chance to live the Hollywood lifestyle. 

Images courtesy Keller Williams Studio City
So where does Demi live? According to the always hilarious Your Mama at the Variety Realestalker, Demi purchased a Sherman Oaks mansion (shown above) that was revealed back on November 10, 2010. Supposedly Demi purchased this home for the family with property records showing that the property lists Demi's mom as a co-trustee. Demi purchased the Spanish themed property on September 8, 2010 for $2,250,000. The home measures 4 Beds/4.5 Baths on 4,053 sqft on a total lot size of 0.30 acres built in 1928. The listing description from the purchase states: 
Entertainers dream home! Wtrfall pool, spill over hot tub & slide, sportscourt, surrounded by palm trees & birds of paradise. Lush tropical setting, plus Guest House (+820' sq. ft) with rental income of $2400 mnth. The main house has spacious Frml Dng & Lvg area w/ high beam ceilings, oak flrs, 3 fireplaces, bay wndws which opens to expansive patio deck w/ mtn views. Custom tiled fountain viewed from dng rm. Lrg Mstr Suite w/ blcny overlooking pool, yard, guest house, dual walk-in cedar closets, ktchnette, frplc, steam shwr & cast iron tub for 2. Gourmet ktchn w/ sunset views, 2 sinks, Vkg Stove, Sub Zero frdg, tmbl mrbl flrs, tiled counters, eat-in ktchn. Home Office w/ built-in dsk & file cbnts. Lrg Fmly w/ blt-in media cntr, sautillo tiles, snkn wet-bar w/ mini-frdg & frzr, sink & grnt cntrs. Cedar lined sauna, seat 4-6. 3 Car garage. Private gated estate, just s. of ventura blvd. Walk to Sherman Oaks Galleria, Whole Foods and restaurants.
Demi also spends time at the family's Colleyville, TX home. 

You can view more SFV Celeb R.E. here.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

BTTF# 27b: Straight Outta West SFV: Did West Coast Gangsta Rap Originate in the West SFV?

Image courtesy Wikipedia
This post is part B to the Straight Outta West SFV story with Part A focusing on Can-Am Recorders studio in Tarzana which later became the home of Death Row Records. Part B explores the possible role that the West SFV had on West Coast Gangsta Rap. 


West Coast Gangsta rap officially started through N.W.A.'s "Boyz N the Hood" rapped by Easy-E in 1987, The N.W.A. group consisted of Easy-E, Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and Arabian Prince who left in 1988. There was nothing more controversial, explicit, and descriptive of ghetto life for the first time in music history. 

NWA. Image courtesy Wikipedia
Ruthless Record was formed by Easy-E supposedly from surplus cash from his drug dealing days who was seeking an exit from the business to start something legitimate. He partnered with Jerry Heller who was an established music manager that gained notreity in the 60's and 70's working with Elton John, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, and Crosby Stills and Nash to name a few. N.W.A would continue to produce albums unitl 1995 but Ice Cube left in 1989 to go solo and Dr.Dre in 1991 to start Death Row Records with Suge Knight. 

Dr. Dre would introduce Snoop Dogg for the Deep Cover soundtrack single which was Death Row Records first foray into the music business in 1992. Most of America including myself saw Dr. Dre for the first time in the Deep Cover music video as N.W.A. was mostly underground due to the explicit lyrics and additionally, Dr. Dre was mostly behind the scenes producing music at N.W.A. instead of rapping. Easy-E was the real star so this was the first opportunity for Dr. Dre to step in the spotlight. While Deep Cover got some attention, it didnt really catapult Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg until the next song recorded together got released. 

I distinctly remember the day sitting at home after school in my West SFV home for the first time watching Dr.Dre's "Aint Nuthin But a G Thang" on MTV Raps. I was immediately hooked onto  Dr. Dre and his debut album "The Chronic".  The raw sound and hard raps was fresh and ushered in a new era of music. After "The Chronic",  I purchased practically every album from Death Row Records until their decline in their late 90's. 

Death Row would continue producing hits especially after the addition of Tupac Shakur in 1995. Ruthless Records was also highly successful with the addition of Bone Thugs N Harmony but eventually would also decline after the death of Easy-E in 1995. 

So what does this have to do with the West SFV? Although it's wildly known that West Coast Gangsta Rap started from rappers living in Compton and the surrounding ghetto neighborhoods, there is still a strong connection to the West SFV which I will explain below.

Ice Cube Taft High School Yearbook Photo. Left Image courtesy Rapper Rewind, Right Image courtesy Cbl62 at en.wikipedia.  
  1. Ice Cube and Easy-E were both bused from Compton and South Central to Taft High School in Woodland Hills. Ice Cube graduated in 1987 but I believe Easy-E dropped out. 
  2. Ice Cube wrote the groundbreaking song, "Boyz N Tha Hood" during English class at Taft where he would also write many other songs while there according to an LA Times article. Additionally, Ice Cube was the main writer for N.W.A. where the simple fact of attending Taft may have inspired him to write the rough lyrics based on the following quote from an LA Times article"Think about how you felt at that age," Cube says. "I was mad at everything. When I went to the schools in the Valley, going through those neighborhoods, seeing how different they were from mine, that angered me. The injustice of it, that's what always got me--the injustice."
  3. Easy-E, Jerry Heller, and Dr. Dre purchased $1 million mansions in Calabasas' Mountain View Estates in 1991 as their careers were taking off. An episode of MTV Yo Raps was filmed at Dr. Dre's home during a pool party. 
  4. Dr. Dre also owned a Chatsworth home in the Monteria Estates and still owns a Woodland Hills mansion in the Westchester County Estates. 
  5. Ruthless Records was located at 21860 Burbank Blvd Woodland Hills. 
  6. Death Row Records would record music at Tarzana's Cam-Am Recorders located at 18730 Oxnard Street #211 in 1994 including all of Tupac's music. 
  7. Suge Knight lived in Tarzana and Encino. 
  8. Tupac lived in a Calabasas rental. 
  9. Ice Cube purchased an Encino condo and mansion in 1996 and also owns a music studio in Sun Valley. But I am not sure where he lived prior to Encino. 
As can be demonstrated in the list above, the West SFV had a partial influence on the origins and rise of West Coast Gangsta Rap despite the fact that there is nothing "gangsta" about the West SFV. Many of the hit records were conceived and recorded in the West SFV that the story cant be told without giving mention to the West SFV. Just to clarify, the influence from the West SFV is from a location perspective and not to suggest that the West SFV is harbinger of gangsta activity which is obviously  furthest from the truth. While many scoff at the term gangsta rap, its hard to ignore it due to its worldwide influence and enormous cash generated which has a link to the West SFV. 


You can read more BTTF series here

Sources: 




Ice Cube Exposed by Rapper Exposed

NWA: Straight Outta Compton by Terry McDermott of the LA Times on April 14, 2002. 
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BTTF# 27a: Straight Outta West SFV: Tarzana's Legendary Can-Am Recorders Turned Death Row Records


Welcome aboard the Delorean! 

Marty McFly here to take you on a special journey to explore the former Can-Am Recorders located at 18730 Oxnard St #211 Tarzana 91356 (in part A) as well as investigate the origins of West Coast Gangsta Rap in the West SFV (in part B).  The Delorean has the required plutonium plus some random garbage in the Mr. Fusion reactor ready for this trip. The time circuits are set to September 1978 and the flux capacitor is......fluxxing. The engine is running (not stalled this time) so we need to hurry. Hang on, as the ride can be a little bumpy as we travel back in time.

Can-Am was first conceived by Lanny Williamson, Larry Cummins and Bill Wasson in September 1978 according to a 1978 Billboard article. There is very little history available on the internet regarding the opening of Can-Am and its history but I believe all three individuals were mixing engineers and obviously worked in the recording industry. The location just like Rumbo Recorders in Canoga Park (Winnetka) were both unique since they were located about 30 minutes outside of Hollywood/Burbank where a majority of the recording studios are located.

Back in 1978, Can-Am was nondescriptly located in a brand new industrial park surrounded by the single family tract homes that has characterized the SFV. Across the street was Southern Pacific's Burbank Branch running parallel to Oxnard (which ceased operations in 1991). The only nearest "landmarks" were the 101 Freeway, the Tarzana Ranch (former home of Tarzan creater Edgar Rice Burroughs), and the Red Barn Feed and Saddlery which originally was Reseda Feed. The best way to describe the Can-Am neighborhood was quiet, boring, and uneventful. A stereotype that has been abused by SFV-haters with every opportunity they can get.

However, Can-Am Recorders was the complete opposite which was an eventful and happening place where groundbreaking music was being recorded and remixed as the disco days of the 70's was ending and the 80's brought heavy metal, new wave, and rap by the end of the 80's. Artists included Megadeth, El DeBarge, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Wang Chung, Chicago, Pink Floyd, En Vogue, Kiss, Madonna, Motley Crue, Barry Manilow, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kenny Rogers, Sheena Easton, and Bobby Brown to name a few according to Discogs.com. (Keep in mind that Can-Am was heavily utilized for re-mixing so I am not sure if the artists were present for mixing sessions).

The book, Mix Masters: Platinum Engineers Reveal Their Secrets for Success by Maureen Droney published on January 1, 2003 provides an interview of Brian Malouf taken place in December 1999 who worked as a Mix Engineer at Can-Am during the 80's working with many A-List artists including one memorable experience with Michael Jackson. Malouf's roots started at CSUN and now owns Cookie Jar Recording in Sherman Oaks, CA.
I left around '81 and went to Can-Am Recorders. The place was for sale; [owner] Larry [Cummins] was very disenchanted with the business and was ready to call it quits. Then I showed up one day, with all this energy and all these ideas for how to rework the room, and we set about doing that. We tore the whole studio apart and rebuilt it. I was the chief engineer, the assistant engineer, the gofer--I was everything and so was Larry. We built up quite a nice little clientele. 
Michael Jackson walked in one day with his brothers. That was a pivotal thing for me, because that's how I started working with Michael. He came to me on one of their sessions and said, "Hey Brian, I want to come back tonight and do my own stuff. Can you do it with me?" And that was the beginning of working with him for a year and a half on the demos that were the beginning of the Bad album. 
It was pretty heady stuff, very exciting, and it led to lots of other things. I remained at Can-Am for ten years, until in '91, I started doing more work at other places. 
80's rock bank, Phish, recording their 3rd album, "Hoist" sometime in 1992 - 1993 just prior to Death Row stepping in. Image source and date is unknown. 
Sometime in the early 90's (or earlier), the original owners of Can-Am disbanded with Lanny Williamson leaving for his native Canada and starting the The Beach Studios in Calgary and I am not sure what happened to Bill Wasson. According to a January 30, 2005 Daily News article, it appears that Larry Cummins continued to own the studio which I will discuss later as the next part is where Death Row Records story begins.

By 1991, Suge Knight had secured Dr. Dre from Easy-E, Jerry Heller, and Ruthless Records. The two would start Death Row Records with their first song bearing the same name for the film, Deep Cover, starring Lawrence Fishburne which would also introduce Snoop Dogg for the first time. Shortly afterwards, Death Row Records first album and Dr.Dre's first solo album, "The Chronic" was released in 1992.
SOLAR Studios in Hollywood. Image courtesy Loopnet.
The "Deep Cover" soundtrack and "The Chronic" album were recorded at Sound of Los Angeles Records (SOLAR) studios located at 1635 Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood next to the famous Capitol Records building. SOLAR was started by Dick Griffey who also founded Soul Train Records with Don Cornelius. SOLAR thrived in the 80's which introduced The Whispers, Klymaxx, Shalamar, "Babyface", and Antonio "L.A." Reid and was instrumental in helping black R&B and rap artists like Dr. Dre succeed. . By the early 90's SOLAR was declining and Griffey was getting into rap and hip-hop by working with Death Row. The building was purchased by Babyface at one point and then sold on Auguat 4, 2011 for $7,252,072 to an LLC company bearing the name of the address.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg recording together. Not sure if this was Can-Am. Image courtesy Hot new Hip Hop
Death Row's next album, "Doggystyle" by Snoop Dogg was not recorded at Can-Am but was recorded at Larrabee North on Lankershim in NoHo and The Enterprise in Burbank along with some other studios in the LA area and released in 1993. I believe by 1994, Suge Knight and Dr. Dre had moved into Death Row Records and I am guessing leased the entire studio from Larry Cummins. The following quote from the book, Got Your Back: Protecting Tupac in the World of Gangsta Rap by Frank Alexander gives an interesting glimpse of the transformation of Can-Am to Death Row.
Tarzana is the last place anybody would expect to find Death Row's players. It's a  quiet, low-key part of the San Fernando Valley, surrounded by nothing but working class white people and Mexicans. I think Suge probably liked the anonymity Can-Am afforded him. Unless you knew what was going on, you'd never find out where they were.
Even if you did, there were two security guards on duty at all times, one stationed in the lobby, with a metal detector to wand people on their way into the recording areas. The other was in the control room, manning the security cameras, which showed everything taking place throughout the entire facility. Everyone entered through the lobby, and everyone got wanded before being allowed entry. Everybody except the artists, that is. 
Suge's office was inside Can-Am, and it was huge. He had it done up to suit him, with a big old Death Row logo in the middle of the carpet in the floor, and of course, the whole office was bloodred. Suge Knight displayed his gang affiliation to the Compton-based Bloods the way a doctor hangs his M.D. certificate for clients to view.  
By 1995, Death Row Records was well established having completed the soundtracks for Above the Rim and Murder Was the Case as well as Tha Dogg Pound with each album hitting at least #1 or #2 on the Billboard charts and RIAA certified 2x Platinum.

But 1996 was the explosive year as Death Row bailed Tupac out of jail in exchange for creating 3 albums with the first album, All Eyez on Me, hitting #1 on Billboard charts and RIAA certified Diamond. Death Row was riding high in fame, fortune, and envy. But like all things that go up, they come back down and Death Row crashed hard. During 1996, artists started to leave Death Row in frustration of lost wages and lack of work with the biggest departure coming from co-founder Dr.Dre who later started Aftermath Entertainment.
The February 1996 Vibe article marked the pinnacle of Death Row with Dr. Dre leaving shortly thereafter, Tupac dying, Suge Knight being jailed, and Snoop Dogg's second album was less successful and he started to distance himself from Death Row until the contract expired eventually leaving in 1998. 
By the end of 1996, Tupac was murdered in Las Vegas after a Tyson fight and died on September 13, 1996. Shortly afterwards, Death Row released Tupac's "Makaveli 7 Day Theory" and Snoop Dogg's "Tha Doggfather" which were both successful. Despite the chaotic year, Death Row was performing well but Suge Knight was incarcerated for parole violation sentencing him to 9 years in jail leaving Death Row without its feared leader. Suge continued to manage the company from jail but with the loss of Tupac, Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg (evenutally in 1998) and others, the creative artistry and chemistry was lost. Death Row continued to operate with the sole remaining success coming from Tupac's albums released posthumously from more than 153 songs he recorded prior to death.

In 2006, Death Row filed bankruptcy after losing a $107 million judgement brought by Lydia Harris who claimed she was forced out from Death Row after financially backing Suge to start the company with her husband, "Harry-O" Harris who at the time was a businessman incarcerated on drug and attempted murder changes when Death Row was formed. In 2008, assets from Death Row were sold at an auction in Fullerton including the infamous electric chair prop that greeted visitors in the lobby. In 2009,  Death Row assets were sold to WIDEawake Entertainment group for $18 million which was later sold to Entertainment One in 2013.

Suge's release from jail statement on the office's billboard on Wilshire Blvd  on August 7, 2001. Image courtesy LA Times and here.
The history of Death Row Records at Can-Am records during the late 90's and 2000's is not known but I believe Death Row moved to 8200 Wilshire Blvd (near San Vicente) reportedly spending $5 million sometime in the late 90's while possibly still recording at Can-Am. However, the decline during the late 90's and early 2000's suggests there was very little activity going on. Its possible that Cummins regained control of Can-Am and opened the studio to other artists as demonstrated with the recordings of  Motley Crue's "Generation Swine" in 1997, two albums from The Game in 2004 and 2005 (surprisingly under Dr.Dre's Aftermath Entertainment company), and Maroon 5's "Song About Jane" in 2007.

Electric chair from auction. Image courtesy Kokyprik.com
Memorabilia from auction. Image courtesy Kokyprik.com
Sometime in the late 2000's, Can-Am became Ironworks Studio. Sometime afterwards, veteran mix engineer, Chris Lord-Alge (Tarzana resident), who has worked with every major artist, acquired the studio and renamed it Mix-LA. An interview with Brian Petersen on March 21, 2012 describes Alge's decision to gain control of Can-Am.
It started out as a simple process of logistics. I lived in Tarzana and I’d commute to Burbank and Hollywood to work. I was not in my own studio, I was in a studio owned by someone else. After all this commuting and not being able to actually get home to my family because of the traffic… I had worked in Cam An in the 90’s – I mixed the Damn Yankees and John Wetten (Asia, King Crimson), I mixed a few records here back in 90’ – 91’. One day I drove down here to see if it was still here, and sure enough I walked in, and of course it was in disrepair and it was under some new ownership. I came in and looked at it and wow, I talked to the owners and said “Hey, I’d like to check that room out”. I started by leasing it, basically renting the room from the guy, and in one day, I’m like : “ I’m not renting the room, I’m buying the place. Let’s get this guy out of here.”  After a few days I said this renting thing is not going to work, I’m just taking the whole place over. Screw it! I started by taking over the studio B side, and soon as there was a chance to buy Studio A, I bought it. There were a couple of other people interested in buying it, but I just steamrolled over it. My business manager said : “Look I don’t care how you do it, I’m taking over the studio.” It was a no brainer. Then though I didn’t really need both studios, I needed to have control of the whole facility because I needed to make it mine and under my control. The best thing about it is that it already came with the console I wanted. It just took me some reverbing. I am completely happy about.
Image courtesy NilsBryant.com
Image courtesy NilsBryant.com
Image courtesy Loopnet
Image courtesy RoccoGuarino
Image courtesy RoccoGuarino
I believe Alge continues to own Can-Am but looks like he is recording elsewhere these days as Can-Am is currently available for sale at $750,000 or sublease according to Loopnet with the following listing description: 
Incredible Legendary Studio for Sublease. There are four studios on the Premises - Studio A is comprised of approximately 3,800 Sq. Ft. and features a large live room, three isolation booths, contorl room, live room, kitchen, rivate entrance, main lobby and office. Studio B is comprised approximately 4,100 Sq. Ft. featuring its own private entrance, two deluxe lounges, dining room, full bath with shower, live room, three isolation booths, and large cotnrol room. Studio C is comprised of an approximately 800 Sq. Ft. space with control room, booth, bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Studio D is comprised of an approximately 600 Sq. Ft. space featuring its own private entrance, conrol room, and live room. The spaces are available together, or separately. Equipment and Business for Sale (OPTIONAL) - $750,000 - and includes taking existing lease at a better rate - Excellent Location in Tarzana adjacent 101 Freeway
While Can-Am exists in some form, its glory days are in the past where Guns N' Roses recorded their pioneering "Appetite for Destruction" album in 1987 to Death Row gaining control creating a new genre and winning fans over worldwide. In total, Death Row sold 50 million albums generating about $750 million in revenue which is quite spectacular for an independent label managed by a thug with very little to no music experience. The good times lasted only so long as Suge's mafia style management tactics, depriving artists of their dues, and a high turnover of the best talent led to its sad demise. Fortunately the studio still exists and the music is still as popular and influential today and it all happened in a tiny studio in Tarzana. 





This picture was taken on January 26, 2013 which it appears that the studio was undergoing some kind of renovation. 
You can read more BTTF series here

Videos:

Tupac at Can-Am Recorders for Good Life & Hit 'Em Up


Tupac at Can-Am Recorders



Small glimpse inside Death Row 



Sources: 

Death: Catalysing Chemicals - Suge and Tupac November 29, 2011; Clashmusic.com

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang published on April 1, 2010. 

Trouble Funk by Jonathan Gold on Spin Magazine February 1997

Tupac Shakur: 'I am not a gangster' by Chuck Philips on Los Angeles Times on October 25, 1995.

Can-Am Studio with 24 Track New in Tarzana in Billboard Magazine on September 23, 1978.

Got Your Back: Protecting Tupac in the World of Gangsta Rap by Frank Alexander on January 10, 2000.

Discogs--Can-Am Recorders

Knight Moves by Sam Gideon, Andson and David Cogan on Vibe Magazine on October 2001

Loopnet--Can-Am Recorders

Sound of Los Angeles Records (SOLAR

NWA: Straight Outta Compton by Terry McDermott of the LA Times on April 14, 2002.

Death Row Records founder out of prison after 5 years by Chuck Philips of the LA Times on August 7, 2001. 
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