Since its beginnings as a cultural destination in the late 1970s, Melrose Avenue has been shaped and driven by creative people in all areas of arts and entertainment. Whether you’re at a gallery or shoe store, one main through line is music. It can be heard on every block, offering a diverse soundtrack to your shopping experience.
Melrose was the mothership of west coast punk culture throughout the ‘80s, with artists from Billy Idol to the Go-Gos becoming regular fixtures at the clothing and kitsch stores. Olivia Newton-John chose the area for her Australian gift shop, and Michael Jackson bought A LOT of home décor on Melrose. In the ‘90s, Headline Records was hosting live bands, and the Sunset Strip spilled over to the rocker shops opening here. Cut to the 2000s, when Melrose hit peak diversity. And now, whether you’re a hippie chick, cypher master, metalhead, or jazz fiend, there was something just for you.
If you’re a music fan, a musician, or looking for the perfect gift for a music fan or musician (which OF COURSE could mean a little something for yourself!), here are the shops to check out on Melrose.
THE RECORD COLLECTOR
Vinyl. It sounds great, it looks cool (they don’t call it cover art for nothing), and it’s nice to get back to the feel of music in the hands. We’re lucky that three of the best record stores in Los Angeles are located in the Melrose shopping district. If you’re looking for punk, hardcore, ska and the hardest-to-find imports on vinyl and CD, you’re looking for Headline Records. This old school cultural cornerstone also sells patches, tees, and other collectibles. Across the street is The Record Collector, where the genre selection is different, but the quality equally exceptional. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall vinyl focusing on classical, jazz, and related vintage sounds with options in the tens of thousands. And down the block you’ll find Revolution Records, where rock and every one of its sub-genres are represented in a pristine album selection. The meticulously-curated bins are practically a Melrose history lesson, including SoCal legends and the visitors who made a mark here.
HOLLYWOOD ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND ARTS
You know, you can also learn to make music on Melrose, too. Give the gift of rock school! The Hollywood Academy of Music and Arts offers lessons in everything from trumpet to drums, ukulele to cello. And of course, vocals. The teachers are educated and experienced, and you can train for a legit skill set or just for fun!
MEGA CITY ONE
Looking for some wall art that reflects your exceptional taste in music? Mega City one has an exhaustive selection of high-quality posters. Artists past and present of all genres are displayed in iconic images. Bowie to Bieber, Winehouse to Wu Tang – you can bring them home today.
The band/concert t-shirt is an equally great way to broadcast your human coolness. For more than 25 years, Yonada26 has served the specific needs of music lovers with an insane selection of shirts for men, women, children, big and tall, short and small. And if the shirt itself isn’t enough of a statement, Yonada will custom cut the bejeezus out of it.
In its punk Victorian style, Spitfire Girl offers these gorgeous plates memorializing music’s most beloved: Prince, Sid (and Nancy), and Bowie. The plates are recycled and individually made, making each one unique and a really special gift.
Of course New Profanity is going to carry the unique must-haves for music lovers. Build an icon alter with musician prayer candles. Adorn your cap, jacket, or bag with the coolest enamel pins. Pick up some diva birthday cards. And (I mean AND because you simply do not walk out of New Profanity with just one thing) be the proud owner of a New Wave tarot deck.
BONUS TIP: Check out live music on Melrose! Antonio’s (7470 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046) has strolling musicians to serenade you while enjoying excellent margaritas and authentic Mexican food. And every Sunday, check out local artists at the Melrose Trading Post (Melrose and Fairfax). Indie singer-songwriters and full bands take the stage in the food court.