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PASSINGS / John Leech

Co-founder of L.A.'s Onyx Cafe

March 21, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

John Leech, 74, a co-founder of L.A.'s legendary Onyx Cafe, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday, the county coroner's office confirmed.

A hangout for literary figures and bohemians in the city's Los Feliz area, the Onyx opened its doors in 1982. It hosted monthly art exhibits and poetry slams and was a launching pad for local musicians, including Beck.

Patrons included artists Peter Shire, Gronk, Gary Panter and Cam Slocum. A 1988 Los Angeles Times story described it as a place "where a lot of books were written and lots of black was worn."

Originally located next to the Vista Theater on Sunset Boulevard near Hillhurst Avenue, the Onyx moved to its final location at 1804 N. Vermont Ave. in 1988. It closed in 1998.

Born in Surrey, England, on Dec. 23, 1934, Leech moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco in 1982 and started the cafe with business partner Fumiko Robinson.

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Cliff Otto, 80, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years who worked primarily in the paper's Orange County edition, died of pneumonia March 1 at a nursing home in Sun City, Calif., according to his wife, Fran. He recently fell and broke a hip, and also was battling kidney cancer.

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news.obits@latimes.com

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