Inductee Biography for HERNDON FAMILY & HANDLEBAR J

Herndon Family & Handlebar JBack in the early 1960’s north Scottsdale was pretty much barren wide open desert. Nothing much but Jackrabbits and coyotes lived there. At the dusty crossroads of Scottsdale Road and Shea Blvd sat a little country nightclub called WILD BILLS. A still unknown Waylon Jennings would play a few gigs at the club occasionally during that time frame.

Original owner WILD BILL was quite a colorful character. One night he was entertaining customers with how proficient he was at the art of fast draw and twirling a gun. He dropped his .45 pistol on the ground and a bullet went whizzing into a dance floor post. Luckily no one was hurt. That bullet hole is still there today.

Second owner George and Joanie Lautz purchased the club and changed the name to HANDLEBAR J in honor of his handlebar mustache and wife Joanies first initial. Brick Herndon was a local musician who played all over the valley began playing upright bass in the club. In 1975 Brick and wife Gwen would purchase the club and continue to serve up great steaks and country music to locals and out of town people wanting to witness a true western steak house and “honky tonk”. Brick and Gwen would raise 3 boys, Ray, Rick and Ron who went on to become musicians themselves. When they were youngsters they formed several of their own bands and performed on local tv shows such as LEW KING RANGERS and WALLACE AND LADMO.

Brick would lose his battle with cancer in 1981 and Gwen and the boys continued to run the establishment for these many years. Ray Herndon would become a Nashville songwriter and a member of the country trio called MCBRIDE AND THE RIDE for several years. Today HANDLEBAR J is no longer “out in the sticks” as the city of Scottsdale has grown up around the club. The Herndon Brothers band holds court at the club weekly and after over 40 years HANDLEBAR J is still going strong as a place to have a great meal, dance and congregate. (bio by Jim West)

Herndon Family & Handlebar J web site