It was renamed Handlebar J in 1966. The Herndon family has owned and operated the saloon and dance hall since 1975. Some notable country stars have played at Handlebar J, including Lyle Lovett, Toby Keith, Vince Gill and Jessi Colter, wife of the late Waylon Jennings.
Brick Herndon, a bass player and co-owner of Handlebar J, died in 1981, leaving the bar to his wife Gwen who has run the place for the last 36 years.
Sadly, Gwen “Lavender Rose” Herndon died earlier this month at age 92.
She is survived by her three sons — Rick, Ron and Ray, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Two of the siblings Ron and Ray formed the Herndon Brothers band in 1986 and its been the Handlebar J house band ever since.
Incidentally, the bar’s name comes from the previous owners — George and Joanie Lautz. He had a handlebar mustache, the “Handlebar,” and Joanie was the “J.”
George played guitar and hired Brick Herndon to play bass for a band called the Country Score. That was a the start of a half century of country music and honky-tonkin’ with the Herndon family at Handlebar J.
Brick and Gwen lived in a house in Arcadia their whole adult lives and raised their sons there.
Services for Gwen are set for 2 p.m. March 5 with a celebration of her life to follow at Handlebar J.