Fast forward 68 years and a new generation’s Sinatra – Jay-Z, backed by a 12-piece band – will do the honors at the sold-out reopening.
The last time the Palladium opened its doors, Morrissey was two shows into a planned 10-night residency when a water pipe burst and the Sunset Strip institution was shuttered.
One year and a massive overhaul later, Live Nation is pulling out all the stops by bringing one of its own marquee artists to reintroduce fans to the 4,000-seat landmark.
The restoration preserves touches of the Palladium’s past, down to the crystals from the original chandeliers, but included state-of-the-art features such as recessed LED lighting with 20,000 possible accent colors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
An example of LN’s attention to detail in the restoration project reportedly included review of old newsreel footage by architect Christopher Coe to match lighting sequences on the marquee-and-pylon sign tower.
Live Nation installed wheelchair ramps, a new concession area and bathrooms, a moveable stage and steel rigging to accommodate elaborate productions. A refurbished dance floor, originally made of maple, is in the works though Live Nation VP Rick Mueller told the paper it likely won’t be refinished until after the Jay-Z bash.
Considering the venue’s history, care has been taken to maintain the Palladium’s look. Cove lighting highlights the Streamlined Moderne architecture inside, and the signature outside tower has been restored.
The Palladium has been the scene of some of both Hollywood’s best and worst moments. The Rev. Martin Luther King was honored there for his Nobel Peace Prize despite bomb threats in 1964, the same year a jazz festival ended in a bottle-throwing melee.
It has hosted the Grammy Awards ceremony and some of Hollywood’s nastiest punk shows, and everyone from Glenn Miller and Barbra Streisand to Led Zeppelin and The Ramones in between.
The Palladium’s restoration has hit some speed bumps along the way, most notably when it was picketed by local IATSE members demanding more union workers be hired. And a Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency loan to property owner Newport Capital Advisors to pay for exterior remodeling was politically controversial.
But Live Nation, which has a 20-year lease on the building, has picked up the bulk of the remodeling tab and expects the griping to subside once the historic Hollywood fixture reopens with much of its glamour burnished.
“There was talk of demolishing the whole place, just knocking it down,” Mueller told the Times. “But if you know the history of the Palladium, that’s an awful thing to consider.”
And in a nod to that history, Mueller said of opener Jay-Z, “I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he does a Sinatra song.”