The Pandoras – live at The Roxy, Hollywood – May 17, 1985 –
The Pandoras to start the week, another in our homage to L.A. bands of the 70s and 80s.
The Pandoras began in 1983 as part of the 1960s revival garage rock scene led by The Unclaimed, which was led by Pierce’s boyfriend, Shelley Ganz. They were also associated with the Paisley Underground era in Hollywood’s alternative rock scene that shared an aesthetic heavily influenced by 1960s garage rock and psychedelia. Most members came from the west side and beach cities area of Los Angeles County and Orange County. Pierce, a resident of Chino, California, had been a member of the Hollywood music scene and playing in bands since 1976.
The Pandoras were formed when singer/guitarist Pierce, a member of the mod/garage/pop Action Now, met singer/guitarist/bass player Deborah Mendoza (aka Mende/Menday), at Southern California’s Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga in 1982. Mendoza, an art major, answered an ad that Pierce, a graphic arts major, had posted on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. The ad read, “Wanted, another female musician to jam with! Influenced by sixties garage punk.” They began bringing their guitars to school and jamming between classes.
Pierce brought in a long-time friend, musician Gwynne Kelly (real name Gwynne Kahn) as a keyboardist, second guitarist and backing vocalist. Mendoza brought in drummer Casey Gomez. After a band meeting in January 1983, Kelly christened the band The Pandoras, though names such as The Keyholes, Hole, The wHolesome, and The Goodwylls were considered.
In 1984, The Pandoras split into two factions just as the It’s About Time LP was released. Conway, unhappy with Pierce’s behavior and band decisions, quit The Pandoras. That was followed by Pierce firing Kelly, and shortly thereafter, Gomez split with Pierce. Pierce decided to continue as The Pandoras and recruit three new members. Before Pierce could form a band, Conway and Kelly played a show as The Pandoras, with other temporary fill-in musicians (notably Michael Quercio of The Three O’Clock on lead vocals/guitar). Gomez joined Conway and Kelly to form an alternative Pandoras to the band Pierce was assembling.
The resulting dispute over the Pandoras name was discussed on a KROQ-FM radio show hosted by Rodney Bingenheimer and in the local music zines such as BAM, Music Connection, and the LA Weekly (and its “L.A.Dee Da” gossip column). The Kelly-led Pandoras—nicknamed The Gwynnedoras—consisted of Kelly, Gomez, Conway, plus Lisa Rae Black.
Pierce’s new version included Melanie Vammen on keyboards, Julie Patchouli on bass, and Karen Blankfeld on drums. They went on to enjoy modest success with the release of the Hot Generation single on Bomp! Records in late 1984—the first of the two “Pandoras” bands to release a record. The Pierce-led band toured the east coast with the Fuzztones to promote the single.
The Kelly-led Pandoras released “Worm Boy” on an Enigma Records compilation, Enigma Variations, in 1985. When readying for an EP on Enigma Records, the label insisted that the Kelly-led Pandoras change their name. This ended the controversy and the Pierce-led Pandoras prevailed. The Kelly-led band’s EP, to be titled Psycho Circus, was never released, and a band name never settled upon.
Patchouli quit The Pandoras in the spring of 1985, citing the band’s change in direction away from garage music. Answering an ad in The Recycler newspaper, Gayle Morency joined The Pandoras and played bass for two shows before retiring from music to raise a family. Morency was replaced by bassist Kim Shattuck in July 1985.
This Roxy performance predates Shattuck’s joining by two months.
In case you missed them, here’s a chance to get acquainted. If you were there, you aren’t taking the time to read this anyway, you’ve already hit the play button a long time ago.
Enjoy either way.