By: John Totten Jezebel's nightclub died a sudden death in 1993. The building, which still stands at 125 N. State College in Anaheim, now houses a Mexican restaurant. But the club still has a fiercely loyal following among the now aging rocker baby boomers who frequented the club in its heyday.
From 1986 to the time owner Jeff LeBraun closed the club shortly before his untimely death, the club served as a place where young Orange County based rock and metal bands and musicians could hone their craft before hitting the clubs in Hollywood. "Everybody played there" says Sue Mansfield, now 54. "We all had a great time."
Touring bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, and Armored Saint also made Jezebel's a stop during the height of popularity of hair metal. The venue was usually packed to capacity during these shows.
"What a nightmare!" That's what Tom Boyle, 57, the former manager of Jezebel's says, referring to the night Metallica played there. "KNAC announced the show as 'special guests' but were supposed to stop promoting the show after it sold out." But the radio station never got the word. Instead, they let it leak that Metallica was playing the small Orange County club. "We had 800 people in the parking lot, and another 1000 outside. There were 67 arrests that night." Tom went on "The [Anaheim P D] watch commander read the riot act to me and Jeff the next day," he says. "To have Metallica in a place like that was insane."
But all good things must end, and not long after the closing of Jezebel's, grunge rock took over as the most popular form of rock music. The employees found other jobs, and the regulars of the club found other places to go out, if they went out much at all.
Even though Jezebel's is long closed, the scene has faded into memories, and everybody has scattered all over the country, many of the die hards from the glory days of Orange County metal get together once a year and party like it's still 1989.
The most recent occasion was last Saturday when Malone's in Santa Ana hosted the fourth annual Jezebel's Reunion. Mansfield and her husband Ken made the trip down from Boise, Idaho. Ken took time off from his job with Apple to perform with his band Gypsy Saints. "We just wanted to come down and see good friends and be with everybody" she says.
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Most of the musicians on stage Saturday are now in their 50's. Their dreams of becoming rock stars may have faded with reality and age, but they remain dedicated to their music. Local favorites Witch headlined the show. Even though Witch never signed a major label recording contract during their career, their fans remain as dedicated as ever. Last year Witch also played the last Jezebel's Reunion, the first time the band had played together in 25 years. "That kind of thing makes it special" said Boyle. Filthy Rocks, Stepchild, and E. V. Loud were also on the bill this year.
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Facebook is the preferred way of re-connecting everybody and promoting the reunions. "When the new media became available, it cried out for it," Boyle went on to say, referring to the concept of the reunion. He maintains a Facebook page for the club that boasts over well over 1800 members, and the numbers continue to rise.
But Boyle has also stated on Facebook that this was the fourth and final reunion. Aside from the work, he says, "The nostalgia factor makes it hard to do."