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Golden Beach - Old Photo of Famous Restaurant and Entertainment

One of Huntington Beach's long remembered treasures is the Golden Bear, a brick building with a large dining and music hall located at 306 Pacific Coast Highway.  When you hear the stories from those who saw the Golden Bear and attended concerts there, you soon realize why there is so much passion for not just a place, but all the joy it brought to so many who saw some of the world's great performers appear in Huntington Beach. Visit Old Pictures Gallery 

It has been almost 20 years since Golden Beach in Huntington Beach was open, bringing the best live entertainment the city has ever seen. Though long gone, the place is not forgotten. On Main Street you can buy Golden Bear beer and HB Beer Company. In Perqs, there's a wall display with old photos and information about the place where so many great artists played.

Since that time there has been a void in the music scene. Up and coming bands play at local clubs, many of the moving into the national and international arena. It would be difficult to replicate what once existed in Surf City, however. Attending a concert with some of these artists below can cost $50 upwards for a ticket today. Musicians such as BB King once played at the Golden Bear for an admission price of $5 to $10 with seating so intimate, it was possible to reach out and touch them. Read the list of names of musical groups, bands and recording artists that played at the famous Golden Bear and you'll see why this Huntington Beach venue that was torn down held such an allure.

Reprinted permission by Los Angeles Times:   OBITUARIES

By Randy Lewis, Times Staff Writer

Richard Babiracki, a onetime investment counselor who parlayed a fan's love of music into ownership of the fabled Golden Bear nightclub in Huntington Beach, has died of respiratory failure. He was 56.

Babiracki, who operated the celebrated rock, folk, blues, country and comedy venue with his younger brother, Charles, from 1974 until it closed in 1986, had been in declining health for the last year, and was hospitalized in January. He died Saturday in Orange.

Under the Babirackis, the club presented hundreds of performances by a wide swath of entertainers, including Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Garcia, B.B. King, Steve Martin, Dave Mason, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Robin Williams, Neil Young and the band Van Halen.

"I always felt the Bear never got the credit it deserved for keeping people alive, for the role it played in performers' lives and in the music business, and the number of songwriters that went through there," said John McEuen, a member of the country-rock group the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He became part of the band during a 1966 show at the Huntington Beach club.

The club was nearly half a century old when the Babiracki brothers took it over from George Nikis, the restaurateur who had made it an important part of Southern California's booming folk and rock music scenes in the 1960s by booking such acts as the Doors, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and dozens of others on their way to pop music stardom.

The Babirackis, who grew up in Minnesota and came west after college seeking the sun and fun of Southern California, originally wanted to open a patio restaurant when they found that the Golden Bear, which Nikis was then operating as a Greek restaurant without live music, was for sale. "I was just someone who liked music," Richard Babiracki told The Times a few months after he and his brother took over the club. "I didn't know anything about the nightclub business. I had to acquaint myself with the people who were coming up in the entertainment industry because those are the ones we are trying to book."

In the 1970s and '80s, the Golden Bear was a familiar stopping place for many veteran acts on their way down and a new generation hoping to be headed up. As trends in music shifted, the Babirackis tried to shift with them, booking such new wave and alternative music acts as Men at Work, the Motels, Oingo Boingo, the Plimsouls and the Ramones.

The Golden Bear's steady diet of old folkies, rockers and blues greats mixed with those of a younger generation to help establish Orange County's identity in the Los Angeles-based music industry. It contributed to a burgeoning underground scene that exploded in the 1990s with the commercial breakthrough of such Orange County-bred bands as No Doubt, the Offspring and Sugar Ray.

The Babirackis ran into financial problems when they tried to open a second club, called Panache, in Long Beach in 1983. The venture lasted less than two years, at which point the Babirackis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to keep the Golden Bear operating. By that time, the Babirackis' primary focus on veteran acts gave the Golden Bear a reputation as a backward-looking club in a forward-looking time, and such cutting-edge clubs as the punk-centered Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa and the alternative-minded Safari Sam's less than a mile away from the Bear in Huntington Beach took over as the hip places for young music fans.

The Golden Bear was bulldozed in 1986 by city officials who said it did not meet earthquake safety standards and would have to make way for new development. Babiracki turned to selling real estate, but kept his hand in the music business by assisting with concert bookings at the Bacchanal club in San Diego.

Babiracki is survived by his wife, Cathie, and brother, Charles. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shannon-Bryan Mortuary in Orange.

A family friend said plans for a tribute concert in the coming weeks were being formalized. -End

Reprinted permission Orange County Register -

Services Saturday for Golden Bear's Rick Babiracki

Rick Babiracki, who owned the Golden Bear during its rock heyday from 1974-86 died Saturday of respiratory failure. He was 56.
The historical Golden Bear was once Orange County's oldest club where music legends from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Doors once headlined.
Babiracki died following a lengthy illness at Chapman Medical Center in Orange. His wife Cathie and brother Chuck, his partner and co-owner of the Golden Bear, kept a bedside vigil throughout Friday night.

Originally built in 1929, the Golden Bear was first a Greek restaurant. The next owner continued the restaurant business but began staging concerts beginning in the 1960s, spotlighting national name talent. Such folk heroes as Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie performed at "The Bear" as it was dubbed.

The '60s psychedelic era brought to the Bear's small stage such rock legends as the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors in their early rise to stardom. The '70s brought Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond and John Denver, while the '80s brought such artists as Peter Gabriel, Oingo Boingo and Poison.
The variety of entertainment ran the gamut from the eclectic with Dr. Timothy Leary and beat poets with Charles Bukowski, to folk with Judy Collins, to blues with B.B. King, to jazz with Chick Corea, to comedy with Robin Williams.

Local talents were given also a forum the Bear, which helped launch the careers of Huntington Beach surf rock guitar king Dick Dale and Orange County's own Steve Martin, Honk and Jackson Browne,among many other aspiring stars.
In January 1986, the Bear lost its lease and was closed to pave the way for downtown redevelopment. Faithful fans were on site as the wrecking ball demolished the aged building and grabbed bricks as souvenirs of this rock 'n'roll historical landmark.
In August 1990, the Pierside Pavilion opened on its original site and the Bear was brought back by Peppers. Inc. Numerous classic rock actsthat played the club in the '70s and '80s returned to play at the new venue. Opening night was headlined by Eric Burdon of The Animals and Robby Krieger of The Doors.

However, the new Bear's reincarnation was short-lived when the club was forced to go out of business after a theater complex opened above it. Noise issues arose over decibel levels and by spring 1991, the Bear was closed down again.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shannon-Bryan Mortuary, 137 E. Maple, Orange.

The HB Longboard Crew will scatter ashes and flowers at sea at noon Sunday south of the pier. Proclamation presentations by the City Council and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher are planned.  The Golden Bear welcomed music and comedy legends, from The Doors and Arlo Guthrie to Steve Martin and Lenny Bruce. Golden Bear owner Rick Babiracki celebrated the August 1990 reopening night of the Huntington Beach club with his wife, Cathie.  -End

Amazing Rhythm Aces
Asleep at the Wheel
Average White Band
Peter Alen
Hoyt Axton
BB King
Captain Beefheart
Elvin Bishop
Black Oak Arkansas
Brand X
Brian Auger
David Bromberg
Jackson Browne
Lenny Bruce
Jimmy Buffett
Charles Bukowski
Eric Burdon
Paul Butterfield
Larry Carlton
Kim Carnes
Keigh Carradine
Cecilio & Kapono
Cheech & Chong
Vassar Clements
Billy Cobham
Judy Collins
Jeffrey Comanor
Commandor Cody
Larry Coryell
Country Joe & The Fish
Papa John Creach
David Crosby
Rodney Crowell
Cherie & Marie Currie
Rick Danko & Gary Busey
Kiki Dee
John Denver
Rick Derringer
Dixie Dreggs
Les Dudek
Bob Dylan
Walter Egan
England Dan &
John Ford Coley
John Fahey
Jay Ferguson
Firesign Theatre
Flash Cadillac
Robben Ford
Michael Franks
Richie Furey
Flying Burrito Bros
Peter Gabriel
Jerry Garcia
Nick Gilder

Dizzy Gillespie
Steve Goodman
Stephane Grappelli
Arlo Guthrie
Randy Hansen's
Machine Gun
John Hartford
Richie Havens
Head East
Jimi Hendrix
Dan Hicks
Dr. Hook
Jan & Dean
Al Jarreau
Garland Jeffreys
Jefferson Airplane
Billy Joel
David Johansen
Janis Joplin
Jorma Kaukonen
John Kay & Steppenwolf
Doug Kershaw
Greg Kihn Band
Albert King
John Klemmer
The Knack
Al Kooper
Leo Kotke
Kris Kristofferson
LA Express
Ronnie Laws
Dr. Timothy Leary
Lenny & Squiggy
Ramsey Lewis
David Lindley
Loggins & Messina
Jeff Lorber Fusion
John Mayall
Taj Mahal
Mark Almond
Steve Martin
Dave Mason
Don McLean
McGuinn, Clark, Hillman
Randy Meisner
Lee Michaels
The Motels
Muddy Waters
Maria Mauldaur
Martin Mull
Michael Murphey
New Riders of the
  Purple Sage
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Norton Buffalo
Oingo Boingo
Pablo Cruise
Robert Palmer
Shawn Phillips
Jom Photoglo
Mary Kay Place
Jean-Luc Ponty
John Prine
Pure Prairie League
Jimmy Rabbit & Renegade
Bonnie Raitt
Romeo Void
Tom Robinson Band
Kenny Rankin
Leon Redbone
Lee Ritenour
Linda Ronstadt
Buffy Saint Marie
Sanford & Townsend
Savoy Brown
Tom Scott
Earl Scruggs Revue
Sea Level
John Sebastian
Frazer Smith
Patti Smith
Smothers Bros
Split Enz
Stephen Stills
Al Stewart
John Stewart
Strange Daze
Naughty Sweeties
Mrc Tanner
Tonio K
Peter Tosh
Tower of Power
George Thorogood
Stanley Turrentine
Tommy Tutone
Dwight Twilley
Van Halen
Louden Wainwright
Tom Waits
Jennifer Warnes
Bob Weir
Tim Weisberg
Lenny White
Wet Wiliie
Lenny Williams
Jesse Winchester
Jesse Collin Young
Neil Young
Warren Zevon