Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena, CA

The beautiful city owned facility was designed by George Edwin Bergstrom, Cyril Bennett and Fitch Haskell.

Built in 1931 and opened in February, 1932, during the lowest ebb of the Great Depression, the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium is one of the most revered performance halls in the nation.
The new Pasadena Civic Auditorium was dedicated "to the citizens of Pasadena, whose efforts and sacrifices have made the erection of this beautiful and useful building possible."

The architecture is interesting.  It's built like a wooden Roman temple.  At first glance it looks Colonial with Spanish accents, but look close and you'll see Greco-Roman tapestries on the walls and ceiling.

The Civic has played host to Broadway musicals, world class ballet, symphony orchestras and celebrity speakers as well as the Prime Time Emmy Awards, and the People's Choice Awards.

The main floor of the Pasadena Civic has 1,922 fixed seats with 98 installable orchestra pit seats. The loge seats 560, the upper balcony seats 449 for a total capacity of 3,029.
Located on the second floor, the classic Gold Room provides an unforgettable setting for smaller meetings, receptions, or dinner parties of up to 300 guests.

The Civic has been the center of Pasadena's Cultural life by hosting thousands of community events such as Rose Queen Ceremonies, graduations, benefit concerts, speeches by famous personalities, and countless programs for children.

The live radio broadcasts of the big band dances from the Civic in the 1940s helped to spread the fame of Pasadena across the United States.

The Pasadena Civic, as part of the Pasadena Center, is the perfect blend of the old and the new. It stands as a lasting symbol of the quality and beauty of this great city.

The Pasadena Civic Auditorium is used primarily for performing arts such as - symphony, ballet and opera. Touring Broadway musicals have also been staged here.
Rock groups are welcomed but there is a careful screening process that scans promoters and groups. It was never known for being a major rock concert venue. (1)

On January 30, 1966, Liberace performed here.
June 2, 1967
Johnny and Arthur Lee of LOVE, June 2, 1967.

On November 2, 1968, Guy Lombardo performed here.
On October 17, 1970, Jefferson Airplane (w/out Grace Slick), Hot Tuna. Double duty for Jack and Jorma.
On November 21, 1970,  Eric Clapton,  Derek and the Dominoes. Double duty for Clapton?

With the construction of the Pasadena Center in the 1970's, the Civic became part of a full service convention center that includes a Conference building, Exhibition building, and a hotel and parking garage.

A home for ballet, symphony, popular music, musical comedy and television programs, the Civic is known for a wide variety of special events. Among the many great orchestras of the world, the Civic has hosted the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and is the home to The Pasadena Symphony. The house is very well suited to ballet.(2)

Technical Specs
• Mixing Desk - Ramsa 852
• Amplifiers - BGW & Yamaha, 250W Bass, 120W Horns
• Speakers - JBL Bass Cabinets, JBL Constant Directivity Horns, EV Sub Woofers
• Microphones - Sure, AKG, Audiotechnica
• Monitors - 4 TOA, 2 Altec, 2 JBL Side Fills (3 way)
• Tape Recorders - Sony DAT, Ampex ATR 700 (7 ½-15TPS)
• Mix Position - Upper Balcony

• Proscenium width - 56'
• Proscenium Arch height - 32'
• Depth of stage from plaster line to back wall - 43'
• Stage Right width - 23'
• Stage Left width - 25'
• Orchestra Pit Elevator - curved front - 16' deep

The Historic 27 rank Moller Theatre Organ
M.P. Möller (1980, Opus 6690). This installation by M.P. Möller (1980, Opus 6690).
An organ's state is an aspect of its existence as an historical artifact, while its condition is an aspect of its existence as a useful musical instrument.
    •    Current state: undocumented or unreported.
    •    Last update 2009-02-09.
5 manuals. 6 divisions. 179 stops. 27 ranks. 22 registers. 61-note manuals. 32-note pedals.
EP chests.
Horseshoe style console. Stop keys in horseshoe curves. Balanced swell shoes/pedals, standard AGO placement. Adjustable combination pistons. AGO Standard (concave radiating) pedalboard. Crescendo Pedal. Reversible full organ/tutti thumb piston. Reversible full organ/tutti toe stud. Combination action thumb pistons. Coupler reversible thumb pistons.
Additional notes.
    •    Identified through on-line information from Jeff Scofield. -- Built in 1938 as Englishman Reginald Foort's travelling organ. After 136 road trips around England, it was loaned to the BBC during WW II, then sold to them. In 1975, it was sold to a California pizza parlor. In 1980, it was sold to the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, where Foort now lived. He died a few weeks after its first use. (Database Manager. 2009-02-09)
These entries have further information about other forms in which this organ has existed. Click on any one of them to open another window or tab with further details.
    •    London, [Great Britain]. Residence: Mr. Reginald Foort. M.P. Möller, ca. 1938
Related web sites. (Selected sites will open in a new window or tab.)
    •    American Theatre Organ Society ["The Touring Organ of Reginald Foort"]. Extensive description, photographs.[Last accessed 2009-02-09.]
Photographs. Click on thumbnail images to see the larger image in a new window or tab.(3)
No, not THAT Jerry! Jerry Nagano!
Pasadena Civic Center June 8, 1986. Photo courtesy of L.A. Times.

Jerry performed here on
New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
Promoter A Capital Attractions Production.
"This was my first show and actually got a stage pass to get in. My friend and i were standing near the backstage door trying to sneak in. We heard some voices and guitar playing and looked through a window and the Dead were practicing! A stagehand or someone connected with the band saw us and said if we got them some coffee, he would give us a pass. We got the coffee and he gave us a pass. We knocked on the backstage door and showed the pass and got in. My friend and i were back stage for the entire concert. We tried to sneak out after the gig with the pass but were stopped a the door and had to give it back."[4]

"When the house lights came on during the first set just about everybody booed because we wanted to smoke our dope - there were uniformed Pasadena's finest in the house and who knows what other kind of heat. Jerry stepped up to the mic and said "No no no you don't understand. We want to see you too!". However a little later on they dimmed the lights.
Great set by The New Riders. Garcia sounded might fine on pedal steel. The Dead were cooking, finished with Love Light and they shot off their famous cannon at the end. No encore in those days."[5]

"I thought this was a great show because the venue was gorgeous, one of those old art deco movie theatres from the 1920's in Southern California. It was small enough to feel close to the band but large enough to get crazy at the end when introduced Casey Jones which hadn't even been released yet (Working Man's Dead came out late '70 if I'm not mistaken). I also like the New Riders of the Purple Sage set that opened for the Dead, as it featured Jerry on pedal steel which I thought Jerry played brilliantly and Mickey on drums as he got to shine. Was a great "acoustic" set (from what I can remember - if you know what I mean…"[6]

Pasadena Civic Center, Pasadena, CA
3.)^OrganHistoricalSociety Pipe Organ Database, http://database.organsociety.org/SingleOrganDetails.php?OrganID=39051
4.)^robert22, comments, 2009-01-03, http://www.dead.net/show/september-25-1970
5.)^deadcustodian, comments, 2009-01-30, http://www.dead.net/show/september-25-1970
6.)^Clarke, William, comments, 2011-04-09, http://www.dead.net/show/september-25-1970?page=1


  1. You might want to correct the cutline under the photo of the organ console. It has five MANUALs (27 ranks, I believe, as it states in the text below). It would be interesting to get a reading on the instrument's current condition, maintenance activity, and playability.

  2. Fixed that theater organ caption. Thanks!