On this day, September 7th 1978, my Pan Am flight touched down in Los Angeles. It was mid afternoon and we had flown, non-stop from London. That might sound ridiculous to some people now. But, only a few years prior to this, most flights had to stop and refuel on the way. Usually in Bangor, Maine. So, we landed and I was excited.. I filled in my i-94 (immigration form). We disembarked and headed into the terminal. I can still remember how I felt at that time.. I wanted to find post cards and send them home as well as call everyone I knew in the UK and tell them I had arrived. I was so excited! Funnily enough, I didn't actually do either. I just followed everyone and headed through passport control and immigration. I was asked a couple of questions, like, how much money I had and where will you be staying whilst I was in the US. I got through that little quiz okay and then proceeded outside of the terminal with my suitcase and camera bag. So, now what? I had a few numbers of my relatives who lived out there. My grandmother, who lived in London, was, in fact, one of eleven children. Three of her sisters actually lived in LA I had my auntie Kitty, Connie & Bessie. So, the first call was to my auntie Connie who I knew lived in Sherman Oaks, CA. But, I hadn't seen her since she was in the UK when I must have been around 10 years old. I remembered her being absolutely lovely. Firstly I had to change up some money and get enough change for a telephone box. Then get into a phone box and try and get hold of my aunt. I got through straight away and I heard her lovely quiet little English voice. I said, "Auntie Connie' she said, 'yes, who is that" I said 'Daniel'. She didn't know me as Danny. There was a kind of awkward silence. I realised she didn't have a clue who I was. I then quickly said, 'You know your sister in London, well I am her grandson" She then said 'Oh, Daniel! How are you?" I said "I am fine thanks, oh can I stay with you for a few days' She quickly said "of course you can. When are you coming to LA?" I then said "Well, I am already here, I am at LAX" I heard her gulp and again the silence.. She then asked me if I have got a car? She swiftly realised I was bloody stupid and that I had just arrived and got off a plane.. She then asked me where exactly I was. I told her where I was standing and she said I would have to wait a while and she would get on her way. Obviously in 1978 there were no mobile phones. So, I didn't move and just sat on my suitcase and waited. I think my aunt must have been around 80 then. So, the poor lady had to drive on her own to a place she never went to, miles away from home and it must have been a little daunting for her to say the least. Now this was such a busy airport. In fact it was all a bit frantic there. It still is today! So, I was keeping my eyes peeled for auntie Connie. I couldn't remember what she looked like at all. So, I waved at every lady of a similar age that pulled up or passed where I was sitting on the pavement, in the hope that it might be her. I had one lady flip her finger at me and I sat there and thought what was that about. Then realised that there I was waving at women on there own in cars and she must have thought I was trying to pick them up. How funny was that! Then after about two hours, a little elderly lady came slowly along the side of the terminal and I knew it was her straight away. She looked just like some of her relatives in the UK.. She stopped, I got in and off we went. She drove out of the airport and we headed up on the 405 Freeway.. For those of you who know this part of the world, the freeway heads up a hill past the round building that was once a Holiday Inn where Sheryl Crow used to play piano and sing at weekends. Anyway, as we got to the top of the hill where you can suddenly see the vast San Fernando Valley and all sparkly lights everywhere. Then suddenly, auntie Connie put on the radio to get traffic reports as we were now in the evening rush hour. As she put the radio on, the first thing I hear is a news report saying Rock Star drummer Keith Moon was found dead in his London apartment. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was absolutely stunned. I explained to my auntie what this was about. She had never heard of The Who or Keith Moon. But, she understood once I had explained that he was a friend of mine and that he was now dead! I couldn't believe it. He had dropped me at Victoria Station the day before. He had died in his apartment in Curzon Place. The apartment owned by Harry Nilsson and also the same apartment where Mamma Cass from Mamas & Papas had died recently. For the next few days all I heard on the radio was The Who's latest album Who Are You! When we got back to my aunts house, the jet lag started to hit me and I was struggling to keep awake. My brother Simon had been on the phone as he was trying to find out where I was. He also gave me the horrible news about Keith. I am not entirely sure if Simon met Keith. My brother was quite young at the time, but, I have a funny feeling Simon came to the office and came into the Ship with us for a drink. I will ask him about that..
So, now it was time for bed. I knew that the next day I had to find a relative with a car that I could borrow and make a plan for me to head to see Paul Wasserman at Mahoney Wasserman PR, North Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills and say hello and show him my Dylan photos from Paris.. So, off to sleep, boy did I need it..
Below are a couple of photos reminding me of my first moments in LA.. The sunset and palm trees and a freeway sign for the 101 Freeway, heading to Sherman Oaks..