Friday, April 25, 2014


Phil and Ruth: The early days
 A little over 40 years ago Phil Elwell from Birmingham, looking in vain for a British pub he could drink in, decided to open Ye Olde King's Head. He took over a dive called the Brass Bell on what was then Santa Monica's Skid Row in Santa Monica and he and his wife Ruth worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week to establish it as a stronghold and social club for both Brits and Americans in the area.  
  In the early days regular visitors included Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, Graham Chapman of the Monty Python troupe, Oscar-nominated actor Jason Miller, Alan Price, Cary Grant, Davy Jones of the Monkees and many others from the worlds of film and music. Nicole Kidman used to stop in for bangers and mash when she was married to Tom Cruise and on one memorable occasion The Who's wild man drummer Keith Moon was banned for simulating sex on the floor in front of the bar.
Phil and Ruth today
Noel Gallagher performed there and former England captain Ian Botham turned out for the King's Head cricket team. Kate Winslet would pop into the King's Head shop when she was living on Ocean Avenue with Sam Mendes and Kate Beckinsale came in to watch the football on television.   
  And so it went on.....the names would fill a giant book and the photographs that lined the walls in Phil's day were a testament to the literally hundreds of famous visitors who made the pub their temporary home.

  Phil and Ruth sold the business, which by then had grown to take up the whole block, some seven years ago and retired to the desert but they return regularly, most recently for a party to celebrate the pub's 40th anniversary.
   There, during a long night of drinking and dancing with music supplied by D. J. Stubbsy, they renewed old friendships and saw regulars and staff they hadn't seen for years. 
   "Nothing's changed," marvelled Phil. "Tonight it's just the same as it always was. But Santa Monica---that's really changed. Now it's a big, busy city. It used to be a village."


  1. Love the King's Head. A farrago of characters.

  2. Ive been going there for years every time I come to Santa Monica

  3. A truly British institution thanks to Ruth and Phil Elwell who were always so warm, welcoming, and generous in every way.

  4. I started my music career here in 1968 when it was The Brass Bell owned by Gus Wolfe. Lots of great memories and met quite a few older celebrities here in those days (Arthur Lake, Paul Mason Howard, Bob Conrad). I went from her to The Tiki Joe Room at The Miramar Hotel on Wilshire, and still entertain in San Diego.

  5. Thanks Bruce. Good to hear from you. Happy days and great memories!

  6. I remember it when Gus had it and I remember the Tiki Room and Fiji Room too. I used to go in the Mucky Duck most

  7. correction: the king's head location was never santa monica's skid row! it was the first block from the palisades park to second street...before it was the brass bell it was the brass rail bar and restaurant...the way that it became a pub was that the husband of one of the waitresses at the brass bell was a new Zealander who played country music there...subsequently bringing in all his kiwi friends as he had been an employee of air new Zealand and before that, a longshoreman in NZ...that brought in all the kiwis, auzis, brits, irish and rednecks...after that, it became the kings head and slowly acquired the full block location...

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