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Book #43 A History of the Golden Bear

A History of the Golden Bear by Robert Carvounas

3 out of 5

Product Description:

Just mention the name "Golden Bear" to a Huntington Beach local and the utterance is usually met with a knowing smile and regretful tilt of the head. Almost everybody— young and old— still remembers the once great landmark. This book is not intended to be— nor could any one text ever be— a recounting of all the great memories from countless individuals over three generations. Instead, it is meant to provide the historical context for those memories. It is the story of the people behind the Golden Bear. From Harry Bakre— whose talent and vision gave birth to the Golden Bear when Huntington Beach itself was still in it's infancy— to Del Kauffman, George Nikas, and the Babiracki Trio who presided over the Huntington Beach landmark when it was a legendary live music venue. It contains their personal stories and recounts some of their interactions with legendary performers— and also with their community. It is a story about Huntington Beach businessmen who created a legacy that still reverberates to this day. It is a story of success, a story of triumph, and ultimately a story of defeat and great loss. The world lost the Golden Bear when it was demolished in the summer of 1986.

This is a very BRIEF history of the Golden Bear. It leaves out many details about the local music scene and the influence the Gold Bear had on local musicians.


  1. I agree that this book needs more information about local musicians (I am one who played there) and the local music scene, but the book is FULL of great information about the Golden Bear. I lived through that period and I didn't know 90% of the information in the book.

    If you're a local musician who's looking to see your name in the book, don't buy it. If you're interested in Huntington Beach and the Golden Bear itself... if you wonder how it came to be and what happened there before you experienced it, buy this book. You'll learn A LOT.

    The photos alone are worth the price of the book.

  2. Jeff...what years did you play in the area? Which bands? I went to a lot of the OC clubs from 76 to the late 80's.

  3. Wow. A book review... never thought I'd see that. Thanks Mary. In response: I PURPOSELY didn't concentrate on the music because that was secondary to me. The music lasted for 23 of the 57 year existance of the Golden Bear. Plus, if you know about the Golden Bear, you probably know something about the music. It's the earlier history and the people behind the Bear that most people don't know about. And, it's their contribution to our community that is the reason the Golden Bear existed at all! The bands would (and did) play a million other places.

    In addition: I was 15 years old when it closed. I didn't live in those times to see the local bands play there... they most probably didn't amount to much in the larger music scene so most people my age never heard of them before! Sorry. I wasn't going to try and recreate a history of music that I don't know and don't like. For instance: I LOVE the Dixie Dregs and could have written pages about their performances... but WHO ELSE would care about that? Music is subjective and for every person that remembers (or wants to read about) a certain band, there are 100 others who've never heard of, and don't care about, that band. To me: the Golden Bear owners gave Huntington Beach that entertainment, the bands would play anywhere somebody would allow them... big difference there, in my mind anyway. The focus of MY book is on the (pre-music) early history and the locals who presented the music to our community and gave us a place to see the bands we love... it's not about the bands (how boring and unoriginal would that be???)

    So, I hope that explains it. There is plenty of room for Golden Bear history. If somebody wants to write (or read) a book about music at the Golden Bear or the Orange County music scene, please sit down and write one. I was simply not interested in that.

    Thanks again and take care.
    Robert J. Carvounas

  4. Looking forward to reading the book. We are currently working on a documentary that will include the time that the Nikas brothers owned the club. It will be a film about all of the coffee houses they owned and the performers who played the clubs. Thanks for writing the book.


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