Jimmy O'Neill, RIP: Remembering Pandora's Box and the Sunset Strip teen riots
Last week, deejay Jimmy O'Neill died at his home in West Hollywood at age 73. O'Neill was a central figure in hippie culture, and he got a pretty raw deal from The Man for his efforts. O'Neill was host of the enormously popular teen music show Shindig!, then used his clout to open a nightclub called Pandora's Box on the Sunset Strip and book his favorite acts. This led to massive throngs of teens and traffic on the strip, and soon the killjoys descended. The city hastily enacted a series of loitering and curfew laws targeting teenagers. The footage in this clip from November 12, 1966 shows what happened next.
In what would become a template for youth resistance, young people gathered at Pandora's Box to defy the 10pm curfew. The riots kept growing, and the panicked L.A. City Council quickly moved to condemn and demolish Pandora's Box, which they ultimately did in 1967. The incident inspired many songs, including Buffalo Springfield's anthem “For What It's Worth," often interpreted as an anti-war song. The young people who witnessed this injustice, including Peter Fonda, Phil Proctor, and Jack Nicholson, came away with renewed resolve to fight even bigger political battes.