Thursday, October 8, 2009



From Helen Sheffer

It was Bob Sheffer and Hank Fischer's idea. Connie Fischer and I were both very reluctant (money issue and small kids).

But Hank is a wonderful business guy, and Bob was the music guy, so it was a good combo.

At first we found this great place in Fullerton, perfect, right by the college.

Hank and Bob went to city hall, but they wanted to keep out the hippies. And what's a Coffee House without hippies?

So then they went to a city meeting in Fullerton with Mr. Knott from Knott's Berry Farm at one point. The city wanted everyone who would preform to register with the sheriff. Right....!

Mr. Knott said that if we opened a club in Fullerton, then Knott's Berry Farm would be leaving.

Dick Stout of the Mon Ami in Orange was selling, so we bought it.

Gary Mullan, Steve Noonan and his many followers, such as J.B. from Fullerton came.

We tried to get a liquor license at one point, but nada. We all did everything we could think of to stay afloat, but we went broke anyway. We [the Sheffers] left before Hank and Connie did.

The Hoot nights carried us. Hoyt Axton always brought a good house. Pat Paulson did us a favor after making it big time, but we didn't have the funds to advertise.

From Gary Mullen:

My career actually started at the "Mon Ami" parking cars for Dick Stout. As I recall what that entailed was directing cars with a flash light to any vacant spot which at that time was mostly a dirt lot. When I ran out of parking spots, I would get to see the show. Then it would start all over again for the next show. I guess I was just kind of thrown in with the package when Dick sold the club.

From Hank Fischer:

“My partner, Bob Sheffer, our wives and I opened the Paradox at 225 S. Tustin Ave. (just south of Chapman) in the city of Orange in June of 1965. We closed it in May of 1968. All of the entertainers that you mentioned in your article plus others appeared at the Paradox and most got their start there."

From the Tustin Historical Society, about the Paradox:

Steve Noonan, Greg Copeland, and Jackson Browne, all from Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, interned there.

As both a performer at the venue and an emcee at the club’s hootenanny nights, Noonan worked with Tim Buckley, Penny Nichols, Mary McCaslin, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jennifer Warnes, Kathy Smith, and Jimmie Spheeris as they were launching their careers.

Earl Scruggs, probably the best banjo player who ever lived, was another Paradox alumnus. He invented (or at least popularized) the threefinger picking style used in bluegrass music. He also wrote what is probably the second-most-famous banjo tune ever, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” which was featured in the Bonnie and Clyde movie. He also wrote and performed the theme for The Beverly Hillbillies TV show, and appeared as a guest star on the show a number of times.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave its first performance at the Paradox before going on to bigger and better things including the Johnny Carson show. Some 40 years later in 2007 they were recognized with a Grammy Award."

More from Hank:

“The comedian Pat Paulson lived only a few blocks away and used to drop by regularly just to hang out. It was during this time that he became a regular on the Smothers Brothers TV Show and his fame spread far and wide as he became a perennial candidate for president.

“Another regular who would stop by from time to time to just jam with other regulars after closing was Jose Feliciano. Other popular entertainers who also appeared at that time were Hoyt Axton, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, The New Lost City Ramblers, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, The Pair Extraordinaire, Jimmy Fielder, Tony Duque and Steve Gillette.

And this just in from Sherry Miller:

No one ever mentions that Steve Martin was at the Paradox, but I KNOW I saw him there, playing banjo & doing magic tricks.


From Helen Sheffer:

The four of us [Bob and Helen Sheffer, Connie and Hank Fischer] were sitting around trying to think of a name, nothing sounded right until either Bob or Hank, can't remember which, came up with "Paradox" and we all liked it. I don't think I'd ever heard the word until then....or...a airplane flew over dragging a sign that said "Paradox"....all of you can come up with your own theory...

And from Rand Launer:

The most valuable guitar costs thousands of dollars.
The most valuable guitar is seldom played.

The least valuable guitar costs 1 dollar.
The least valuable guitar is played every day.

Which is the best guitar?
That's a Paradox.