Corey Bailey
Audio Engineering
ARTICLES
The Alley was a complex of rehearsal studios that was originally owned by William “Bill” Elkins and Arnold Kahn. I knew them in the 1970’s and I knew them as Bill and Arnie (I never knew Arnie's last name until I wrote this!). It was mostly a family run business with only a few employees. One employee, I remember, is Venita Keller and we all knew as Mom. Actually, I never knew if she was an employee or just donated her time because Bill was great at getting people to work for free. However, I do know that she painted many of the murals that decorated the place. Another person that I remember, is an individual who worked there named Mark who helped setup the bands and such. Although Bill and Arnie seemed inseparable, Bill was the friendliest to me. That’s probably because he took a liking to me. I was a recording engineer at the time but I never got any clients from the Alley. I usually stopped by to visit with musicians that I knew were rehearsing there. I did however, refer musicians if they didn’t know of the place. I met a lot of people there and some went on to become legends. Howard Dumble rented space there for awhile. He was the one who built the much sought after Dumble guitar amp. I used to talk ‘shop’ with Howard. The Alley was started in the late 1960’s and added onto (purchased, I believe) in 1973. The Alley was located on Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA., at the corner of Lankershim and Osego St. The parking lot contained a hamburger stand. The building front was adorned with angular wood paneling and a blue- sky mural with white clouds. The building featured no signs, no lettering and only the outline of a front door. No indication of the legends preserved inside. The office and residences were in the rear, up a flight of stairs. In the beginning, the office stairs were traditional wood. But later on, the stairs were replaced by Bill Elkins in his usual artistic fashion. Bill used to say: "Started Yesterday, Finish Tomorrow. Built, but Never measured." Bill was very ‘close to the vest’ about the place from the beginning so, advertising was word of mouth. The Alley was always ‘fortress-like’ and remained so throughout the years, much as it did back in the 1970’s. The Alleyway was a detached building, although it was considered to be part of The Alley. Many years before the area became known as the ‘No-Ho Arts District’, The Alley was established within the Los Angeles music community. At the time, it was one of the music industry’s best kept secrets. I don’t know who signed the brick wall inside for the first time, but so many artists who rehearsed there and became legends have added their signatures, that the wall itself is a legend. Bill made provisions for artists to simply ‘crash’ there and get up to continue with their rehearsal. The Alley was the inspiration for several songs. I think it’s the place where the Eagles wrote the song: “Hotel California.” Bill and Arnie were car and motorcycle buffs. They rode two and three wheeled Harley Davidson motorcycles and they would ride them everyday. They also restored a 1937 Ford pickup. Bill Elkins was responsible for naming the UGLY motorcycle club: https://www.uglymotorcycleclub.com/ I last visited The Alley in 2009 after a long absence. I met Shiloh Elkins, Bill’s wife. Arnie had already passed away. Bill was not well and had gained weight since I had last seen him. He was no longer able to complete his artistry which, contributed to making the place famous. On November 4th of 2016, Bill Elkins, who had been struggling with dementia and diabetes, passed away. Shiloh Elkins passed away on June 4, 2017. "Whatever Works" ~ Bill Elkins The Alley today In 2015, The Alley was acquired from Shiloh and Bill Elkins by John Strand. John has done his best to keep the place the way it was, the way that all of us remember it. John Strand works in the entertainment industry and was married to Deanna Lynn Hartman, Bill and Shiloh’s adopted daughter who also passed away on June 19 th 2013. As of 2023, the building is still there, although the business appears to be closed. However, the burger stand has changed since the 1970’s. Return to TOP of page © Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
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The Alley