Legion Stadium in El Monte

Based on Chapter 22 in East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte and South El Monte Arts Posse’s “East of East” archive

Text and archival material curated by Michael Moran

Built in early in the 1930s, the El Monte Legion Stadium was constructed to be a multi-purpose venue for the community and local school district. Often described as a rundown, "boxy" auditorium, the venue hosted major events such as boxing, professional wrestling, and roller derby. Most important, in 1932, Legion Stadium played a specific role in the 10th Olympiad as the site for wrestling.

In the 1950s and 1960s many early rock and roll greats played the El Monte Legion Stadium. Among artists that performed were Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson, Ritchie Valens,  Johnnie Otis and many more.


Art Laboe with Jerry Lee Lewis at a public dance at Legion Stadium in the 1960s

Starting in 1955, Art Laboe hosted events on the weekends at the venues that drew in huge crowns all over the greater Los Angles area to El Monte. Art Laboe was local Disc Jockey known for playing Doo-Wop, Rhythm & Blues and Rock n’ Roll in the early 1950s. While being a DJ at KPOP, he hosted broadcast shows at Scrivener’s Drive-in in Hollywood that were very popular that it led to huge traffic jam and issues. Wanting to host live shows for his audience, Legion Stadium was the best venue to host shows and dances. Art Laboe was the first DJ to officially broadcast live Rock n Rock across the west coast from the stadium.

Art Laboe created a unique bond with his audience over the airwaves and with youth who attended his shows at the Legion Stadium. When there were big acts at the venue and admission cost was extra, it left those want to see the show short. In an interview with SEMAP, Art Laboe reflects on how he helped mitigate this extra cost:

“ I remember filling both my coat pockets with half dollar-and I went outside where everybody as waiting in line and went up and down the line and I could see who was trying to dig up some money -people were honest about it- and I was handing out these half dollar to some of these kids.”

Oral history of Art Laboe identifying his connection to Legion Stadium and history of El Monte form 1950s to 1970s.

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A selection of posters from the Armenta Brothers. Click to view more.

Legoin Stadium was also a venue that gave access to local bands to preform and gain an audience such as the Armenta Brothers from El Monte.

William Armento describes performing at Legion Stadium.

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Various photographs of the Armenta Brothers, including travels across the country. Click to view all.

Rubén Guevara discusses Ruben and the Jets, as this group was one of the last bands to perform at Legion Stadium in 1973.

For more oral histories and photographs related to Legion Stadium, please visit the Legion Stadium collection under the "collections" tab (coming soon). 

Legion Stadium in El Monte