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Hollywood Alley: An Oral History of “Arizona’s Only Ultra-Chic Pissant Hip Dive Bar”

Rock ‘n’ roll, to paraphrase punk icon Poison Ivy, is for misfits. A refuge for outsiders, oddballs, or anyone else even a little bit strange. The description is apt for the recently closed Hollywood Alley and much of its patronage. Over its 25-year lifespan, the Mesa rock joint and restaurant, which closed August 2, offered shelter to a colorful and fiercely devoted tribe of regulars, neighborhood folk, and musicians who came to drink and dine. And they did so in a darkly lit milieu that was a mix of show-club swank and rock-club verve, with offbeat characters to spare. Laden with a low-brow aura and thrift-store décor (old LPs, secondhand furnishings, scores of vinyl band stickers, and countless kitschy movie posters), its name and slogan — “Arizona’s only ultra-chic pissant hip dive bar” — were fitting.

But its overwhelming claim to fame was as a legendary Arizona music venue — based on its longevity and the sheer number of bands and performers who slouched in its signature high-backed black leather banquettes, bent elbows at the bar, or hit the stage after the establishment first opened in 1988.

The musical repast of what was the Valley’s longest-running rock bar was diverse (ranging from blues and funk to indie and Americana), and its history includes visits and gigs by some of the biggest names in Arizona music. Gin Blossoms and other famous Tempe jangle-poppers performed and partied there, as did Meat Puppets, Jimmy Eat World, and JFA. And punk rock royalty passed through, such as Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Greg Sage, and Jeff Dahl. Hell, even Chuck D. and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy spent a night… read more >

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