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Arts and Entertainment

'Trouble in Paradise': Grammy Museum Exhibition Explores L.A.'s Music & Political History

On view in 'Trouble in Paradise': Search for weapons, Watts Riots 1966, Cliff Wesselman. Black and white photographic print. Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library
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Trouble In Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-1975, The Grammy Museum's latest exhibition, opens today and explores L.A.'s pop music history: the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Curated by the museum's staff and USC Professor Josh Kun, the exhibition showcases music history against the context of the politics and popular art of the times. On view are photos and images—such as the Sunset Strip billboard photography of Robert Landau and rare photos from Johnny Otis archives—and music-related items, like album cover art, handbills, concert posters as well as filmed interviews.

Trouble in Paradise—part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time initiative—doesn’t focus solely on the SoCal surf scene. Yes, the Beach Boys are in the exhibit, but so are Ritchie Valens, Horace Tapscott, Thee Midniters, Buffalo Springfield, El Chicano and The Byrds. Diverse music genres that helped build LA are also covered, including Central Avenue R&B, Laurel Canyon folk rock, Watts jazz and funk, the Sunset Strip rock scene, and the Chicano sound from East LA. 

Rather than an exhaustive overview of LA’s music history, Trouble In Paradise focuses on the “tensions between alluring myths of Southern California paradise and the realities of social struggle that characterized the years following WWII.” In other words, the exhibition doesn’t gloss over LA’s troubled times, and includes information and images on Watts riots to the civil rights movement to the Manson murders.

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The exhibition runs through June 3. Adult admission: $12.95.