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Hollywood Stars - Profile

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 6 / 11 / 2019

Hollywood Stars - Profile


Kimberly Bright reflects on the career of the ill-fated and now reformed ‘70s Los Angeles glam rock group the Hollywood Stars, whose lost second album 'Sound City' has been finally released after 43 years.

The Hollywood Stars is one of those unlucky, seemingly cursed bands around whom an odd legend has grown over the years. Formed in 1973 by manic rock hustler and dealmaker Kim Fowley as a pre-Runaways pet project, the band was meant to be the West Coast’s answer to the New York Dolls. Fowley stole the name from a local minor league baseball team and originally offered it to singer Shaun Cassidy and his backing band, who turned it down. Undaunted, he then recruited a handful of young heartthrob musicians to be in the Hollywood Stars, including his $5-a-day chauffeur Mark Anthony as guitarist and co-songwriter. The band looked more like a tanned Arrows than the New York Dolls and sounded like a power pop Sweet. The locals loved them. Fowley wrote in 'Bomp!' in 1975, “I thought an American, up-to-date version of the original Move plus the mod Who plus the energy of the Small Faces with music that the pseudo-intellectual album buyer could purchase, but that would also appeal to teenage girls (who certainly have been neglected in recent years) would cause everyone to rally.” Although Fowley managed to get the Stars signed to Columbia Records and hyped them to the heavens and beyond, the first line-up of the band broke up after less than a year, just after a triumphant gig at the Whisky A Go Go with Iggy Pop and John Lennon in the audience. They did record a rough mix of their debut album, 'Shine Like a Radio', in 1974 for Columbia before being abruptly dropped by the label. Fowley blamed problems with the producer, engineers, and label executives. As a result the debut album was shelved and moldered somewhere until a 2013 release. The band reformed with a slightly different second line-up, which now featured Mark Anthony as singer (replacing Scott Phares), songwriter, and rhythm guitarist, and recorded their second album, 'Sound City' in 1976. That project was also shelved until this year. The excellent sound is possibly due in large degree to being recorded at the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. The heavy, glittery songs co-written by Anthony and Fowley are by far the best of the ten tracks, including early versions of 'Escape' (later recorded by Alice Cooper), 'King of the Night Time World' (recorded by KISS), 'All the Kids on the Street', and 'Sunrise Over Sunset'. Mark Anthony’s own songs are pop-romantic ('So Blue') and timeless glam rock ('Too Hot to Handle'), alongside the hokey 'Houdini of Rock ‘n’ Roll' and cringeworthy 'Make It to the Party' and 'Shotgun', which both highlight the now-taboo idea of an adult man singing about lusting after a girl “pushing fourteen.” 'Make It to the Party' even namedrops 'Lady Starr', aka Sable Starr, one of Los Angeles’ famous underage ‘70s groupies. The album includes versions of songs recorded with Canadian producer Neil Merryweather that the surviving band members prefer to the ones that ended up on their uninspiring released third attempt, 'The Hollywood Stars', with producer Harry Maslin in 1977. Mark Anthony died in the early ‘00s but a recently reformed Hollywood Stars, which includes original singer Scott Phares, guitarist Ruben De Fuentes, and Terry Rae on drums, along with Michael Rummans on bass from the second line-up, and newcomer Chezz Monroe on rhythm guitar are performing live shows. For the first generation of southern California Hollywood Stars fans and those who came along too late to see them perform live, 'Sound City' is a respectable time capsule showcasing what writer, record executive, and magazine editor Greg Shaw described as a “‘70s supergroup” that never quite got off the ground.

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Hollywood Stars - Profile

Hollywood Stars - Profile

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Interview (2019)
Hollywood Stars - Interview
Kimberly Bright talks guitarist Ruben De Fuentes and drummer Terry Rae from the early ‘70s LA glam band the Hollywood Stars about reuniting and finally releasing their early work.

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