All posts by Mack Fleetwood

I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day. (*But socially distanced, of course.)

WHISKY TO GET A FACELIFT

Whisky A Go-Go is getting a new look, and the Sunset Strip is welcoming a ‘Rock Walk of Fame.’

Since the Whisky A Go-Go set up business at the corner of Sunset and Clark back in 1064, the two-story club has famously sported a number of shades and exterior looks, from the groovy purple and yellow scheme in the ‘70s to the more recent red and black design.

And of course, the billboard above the club has been advertising new album releases since the 60s. At one time or another everyone from Alice Cooper to Motley Crue has been featured on billboards above the club.

MODERN ROCK; Whisky A Go-Go, November 2022.

Now, the world-famous club and the Sunset Strip are about to get a modern makeover.

Earlier this week, the West Hollywood City Council approved the conversion of the club’s static billboard into a double-sided digital billboard.

CLASSIC ROCK: Whisky A Go-Go, April 1972.

The mammoth billboard’s origami-inspired 500- and 1,000-square-foot screens are designed to evolve as motorists and pedestrians pass the billboard. Either way, it’s certainly going to get the attention of crosstown traffic at Sunset and San Vicente.

Motley Crue above the Whisky - 2010
DOWN AT THE WHISKY: Motley Crue overlooking Sunset, summer 2005.

The billboard is part of a new agreement between the Whisky and the city, which expects the digital billboard to bring in over $60 million in revenue over the next 30 years.

Whisky A Go-Go
Green Day and Riverdale cover the Whisky, fall 2017.

The best part is that the billboard is going to lead to a rock ‘n’ roll tribute on the Sunset Strip. The contract stipulates that the city will use nearly $350,000 to add a commemorative “Rock Walk” honoring the music legacy of the Sunset Strip.

HOLLYWOOD ROCKS

Step aside, Batman! The Who, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, and other music icons have rocked their way into W/B’s legendary Hollywood history.

Living in SoCal, it’s easy to get jaded when it comes to being starstruck. After all, when you randomly spot Smokey Robinson at the supermarket and Steven Tyler at Coffee Bean—which I have—you tend to get used to seeing superstars as much as you see smog and palm trees.

However, a recent tour of Warner Bros. studios had us feeling excited about the magic of Hollywood once again. And that reinvigorated awe had everything to do with the rock and roll history that lies within the eclectic tour that covers every iconic entertainment offering from Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden to Friends and the DC universe’s current crop of superhero hits like Batman and Wonder Woman.

Along with all of the movie history, the studio’s backlot has a rich music history, too, including as the location of the iconic cover photo of Pink Floyd‘s 1975 album, Wish You Were Here.

Equally cool was spotting one of the rockin’ motor scooters from The Who’s 1979 classic film Quadraphonia.

The Lambretta and Vespa Italian motor scooters make a memorable appearance in the British drama as the ride of choice for Sting and his Mods as well as their rivals the Rockers.

Many classic Hollywood musicals and music-oriented movies have also been filmed on the lot, from The Music Man and A Star Is Born (two of them, the 1976 and 2018 versions) to Elvis and Selena.

The other king, the King of Pop also has an unforgettable attachment to W/B’s history. Michael Jackson and The Jacksons filmed one of their famous Eighties-era Pepsi commercials on the Warner Bros. backlot. This one was filmed on the backlot’s all-American “Hennessy Street” and co-starred a very young Alfonso Ribeiro.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s guitar picks and guitar strap are on display alongside costumes and rock paraphernalia from 2018’s A Star Is Born.

Some of the other rockin’ relics that we came across include the original piano from the 1943 classic film Casablanca. The piano is the one Humphrey Bogart was referring to when he famously said, “Play it again, Sam.”

The studio’s rock and roll holy grail may be the old jukebox used in the 1957 Elvis Presley film Loving You, which featured The King using this jukebox to supply the music as he sang “Loving You” in the technicolor movie musical.

Phoebe Buffay’s (Lisa Kudrow) acoustic Gibson guitar has a place amongst pop culture and entertainment history, too, and is behind glass as part of the W/B tour. It’s virtually impossible to walk past the six-string without “Smelly Cat” popping into your cabeza.

Another, ahem, thrilling moment was seeing legendary record producer Quincy Jones represented for his work with Steven Spielberg on the two-time Oscar nominated soundtrack to the 1975 film The Color Purple.

Warner Bros. Studios’ Props Department houses enough cool music instruments to rival any branch of Guitar Center.

Random acoustic and electric guitars, violins, cellos, bajos, congas, and dozens of other instruments line the walls of the airplane hanger-sized prop room.

The instruments have been used and reused in countless W/B movies and TV shows.

Let’s see, Pink Floyd…Elvis Presley…The Who…Michael Jackson…James Dean…when a studio’s history includes this much badass talent, we can almost forgive the W/B for The Gilmore Girls.

NOVEMBER GAIN

Rockin’ new Guns N’ Roses mural overlooks legendary Hollywood band’s old haunt on the Sunset Strip.

Use Your Illusion I and II, the Nineties-era hard rock masterpieces by Sunset Strip-launched legends Guns n’ Roses, have resurfaced on Rock Row in the guise of some rockin’ huge posters plastered on random construction site walls located between the Whisky and the Rainbow.

So, what gives with the rockin’ retro rewind?

Turns out, the GN’R posters are hyping the release of a new deluxe box set of the two albums that somehow expanded to eight discs of related material in a set that costs over $200.

Coinciding with the launch of the box set is the unveiling of a new Use Your Illusion II mural located on the Roxy‘s sidewall and overlooking the Rainbow’s outdoor patio.

Guns n’ Roses diehards will recognize the location of the mural as the area where Axl Rose stared down Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1991 video for Use Your Illusion II‘s smash hit “You Could Be Mine.”

Mark Kostabi‘s iconic cover artwork–a manipulation of part of Rafael‘s “School of Athens” mural–takes up a large section of the wall and is a welcome dose of rock and roll spirit that has been missing from the Sunset Strip for a while now. Let’s hope the new GN’R mural is a permanent part of the Strip.

STILL THE BOSS

L.A. Grammy Museum’s Bruce Springsteen exhibit covers the best of The Boss.

While killing a few hours before attending the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 concert at L.A. Live, we got a chance to check out the Bruce Springsteen shrine, er we mean exhibit that opened last week at the Grammy Museum in Downtown L.A. (Spoiler alert: Springsteen made a surprise appearance at the Rock and Roll HOF event and performed!)

When we’re discussing somebody of the caliber of The Boss, we probably should refer to this as a shrine because St. Bruce really is in a league all his own when it comes to the sheer artistry of rock and roll music. This is one reason why he has his own headlining exhibit at the famous museum.

The rockin’ showcase includes everything from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s well-worn instruments and familiar stage props from countless tours to the luxurious golden “throne” that legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons used in later years. And, of course, the exhibit includes Springsteen’s iconic t-shirt and Levi’s that he wore on the cover of Born in the U.S.A.

Check out some of the highlights that we captured while scrolling through this amazing history of the greatest living rock musician of our generation.

ROCK AIN’T DEAD

Stellar L.A. bands Dina Dover and The Band Called Sex are proving Gene Simmons wrong.

Music icon Gene Simmons caused a stir with rock and rollers in the recent past when he proclaimed that rock and roll is dead.

The outspoken Demon was referring to the fact that modern rock radio simply doesn’t have any decent new rock bands that seem like they will stand the test of time like KISS did, and Van Halen, Motley Crue, and other legendary bands from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s (and a few from the ’90s) who we all still listen to today.

LOCALS ONLY: Whisky welcomes back original rock from L.A.’s best new bands.

While we’d never refute the legendary Demon’s opinion on such an important topic, there is a good sign that rock and roll may not necessarily be dead. Proof of life is found at the Whisky A Go-Go, where we recently took in a set by the totally awesome L.A. ’80s tribute band Fast Times.

On a random Monday night, as we were checking out the two local bands opening the show, Dina Dover and The Band Called Sex, we were stoked by the rock and roll authenticity of both bands, whose original songs were memorable, catchy, and rocked hard without any bit of pretentiousness or gimmickry.

Plus, you could see and hear obvious influences of the likes of The Go-Go’s, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath in the performances by these new young bands that played straightforward melodic original rock and roll that the crowd seemed to really appreciate.

I WANT YOUR SEX: The Band Called Sex rocks the Whisky.

The two bands that supported Fast Times, Dina Dover and The Band Called Sex, had the 40 or 50 people in attendance riveted to their music as they banged their heads, bopped to the beat, and cheered on the bands as if they were watching Aerosmith. It was a sight to behold, especially after post-pandemic L.A. nightlife had been stagnant for so long.

The Band Called Sex delivered some badass, unpretentious original rock and roll that echoed of the bluesy grooves of Led Zeppelin and the powerhouse pipes of Ronnie James Dio but delivered with a straightforward musicality all its own.

ROCK N’ ROLL THRILLER: Dina Dover’s fun, edgy tunes had the house transfixed.

Dina Dover followed TBCS and the excellent band may look like a misfit group of high schoolers who just stepped out of The Breakfast Club, but when they jam together, it’s magic–a marvelous cohesive rock and roll sound that is slick, edgy, and instantly catchy. If The Go-Go’s ever got together with Blink 182, this could be their love child.

Plus, any rock band that opens their set with a fantastic cover of Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller,” automatically gets a gold star in our book. It’s not easy to make an MJ song your own, but they did it effortlessly.

HEY, I KNOW THAT DUDE! Fast Times brings the awesome ’80s to Sunset.

The memorable evening at the Whisky A Go-Go was an authentic music moment that was goosebump inducing because it seemed to be a noticeable, pivotal moment where music fans were in the mood to get their faces rocked off and they were certainly getting exactly that on this random Monday night on the Sunset Strip.

This musical experience was all about being moved by the entire enormity and majesty of this rockin’ showcase of original music that was followed by Fast Times’ incredible spot-on covers of the best rock songs of the ’80s by bands like Def Leppard and Van Halen.

So, with all due respect to the mighty Demon, rock may be on its last breath, but it is being resuscitated nightly at the corner of Sunset and Clark, where you could still rock and roll all night and party everyday. And for that we’ll forever be grateful.

BEST SHOT

Hollywood street art gives a shout out to classic Pat Benatar album.

When you’re strolling through HOLLYWOOD, there are usually a lot of distractions that have your eyes darting from one scenario to the next. One minute you’re gazing in awe at Marilyn Monroe‘s star in front of McDonald’s on Hollywood Boulevard and the next you’re trying to quickly look away from the crackhead pooping on the sidewalk in front of Madam Tussaud’s Hollywood Wax Museum.

Fortunately for us, while walking to the Hollywood Bowl recently to catch a Stevie Nicks show, it was a random, rockin’ homage to another music icon, Pat Benatar, that distracted us.

The vibrant, dye cut sticker-art tribute to Benatar’s fourth album, Get Nervous, is immortalized on the back of a sign post on Highland, just outside the Bowl.

The crazy-cool artwork immediately had the songs from the 1982 album streaming through our cabeza, timeless classics like “Shadows of the Night,” “Little Too Late,” “Looking for a Stranger,” and “Anxiety (Get Nervous).”

Caught up in the nostalgia, we found ourselves holding an old Bic lighter high in the air as we continued our stroll to the Hollywood Bowl.

AND THE BEAT GOES ON

The Go-Go’s frontwoman Belinda Carlisle is bringing 50 years of timeless rock n’ roll hits to Beverly Hills in October.

If you were one of the lucky ones who caught The Go-Go’s 2018 show at the Hollywood Bowl, which took place beneath a twinkling starlit SoCal sky just before the pandemic reared it’s ugly head, then you know just how awesome it is to catch a legendary Hollywood-launched band play an equally iconic venue.

Fans will get that opportunity again this fall, when The Go-Go’s frontwoman Belinda Carlisle headlines another local landmark, the gorgeous, intimate-sized Saban Theater in the heart of Beverly Hills.

The hit-making singer-songwriter is sure to give Beverly Hills a night to remember with a set spanning more than 30 years of solo smashes, from 1986’s Belinda to 2007’s Voila. Of course, fans can also expect to hear over 40 years of timeless hits from The Go-Go’s, which formed in L.A. in 1978, after Carlisle and her friends devised the idea while sitting on a curb outside a house party in Venice.

“I Get Weak,” “Circle in the Sand,” “Mad About You,” “Leave a Light On,”and her number one single “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” still hold up today as some of the best pop gems in music history, composed of instantly memorable choruses and dance-inducing melodies wrapped around smartly written lyrics about love, loss, and learning to navigate both with a smile on your face and a beat in your step.

To rock fans who grew up in the awesome Eighties, The Go-Go’s were the soundtrack to the Me Decade, and kids certainly got the beat from the moment 1982’s hits-packed Beauty and the Beat hit the bins.

The band’s debut album shot to No. 1, making the California band the first all-woman group off singer-songwriters to top the charts with their own original material.

Beauty and the Beat’s singles “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” were instant global smashes that made the band MTV darlings and landed them on the cover of Rolling Stone and launching a 50-year-strong career that shows no signs of slowing down.

Carlisle’s Beverly Hills show at the Saban on Oct. 27 starts at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $50-$130. The Saban Theatre is at 8440 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

SIGN O’ THE TIMES

Ozzy Osbourne billboard adds some rock cache to Sunset Strip’s Roxy.

Signs are looking good that rock and roll is returning to the Sunset Strip after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. Exhibit A: this awesome new Sunset Strip billboard on the side of the Roxy hyping Ozzy Osbourne‘s upcoming 13th studio album, Patient Number 9.

“It’s about being a patient in a mental hospital,” revealed Osbourne about the title track on his Ozzy Speaks Sirius XM show. “All we do really is self-medicate.”

The 73-year-old heavy metal legend’s Patient Number 9 isn’t due until September 13, but last week, fans were treated to a sneak-peek of the album. The POFD released the official music video for the title track in a clip directed by Todd McFarlane.

MONSTER BASH

Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg’s ‘A Hollow Realm’ Art Exhibit Opens in Silverlake for one night only, July 7.

Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg is hosting his first solo art exhibit on July 7 in Silverlake. The multi talented musician will showcase his paintings in a one-time, in person show titled “A Hollow Realm.”

The rare showcase is described as “a fully-immersive virtual gallery experience created in collaboration with Optic Nerve.”

Fans are invited to attend the free event, which will take place from 6 p.m. through midnight at Rampart Studios Gallery, located at 2520 Sunset Boulevard in the heart of the Sunset Junction area of Silverlake.

To RSVP, head over to the “A Hollow Realm” website. See you fellow maggots at the show!

RAINBOW IN THE DARK

Sunset Strip rock landmarks Rainbow and Whisky set to pay tribute to metal legend Ronnie James Dio, July 7 and July 19.

The immortal Ronnie James Dio would have hit the big 8-0 on July 10, and to celebrate, the Rainbow Bar and Grill is celebrating with a rockin’ party dedicated to the late, great singer-songwriter, who once famously fronted a band named after this very restaurant.

On July 7, the Rainbow is hosting “Dio at the Rainbow in the Dark,” a record release celebration in honor of Rhino Records’ 40th anniversary remixed and remastered edition of Dio’s spectacular 1983 solo debut, Holy Diver. The classic rock masterpiece is being released on three formats: digital, vinyl, and as a two- and four-disc CD set.

Ubiquitous Sunset Strip headbanger and radio personality Eddie Trunk is emceeing the event, which is happening from 7-9 p.m. in the upstairs bar, where the evening is sure to be dominated by the glorious sounds of Dio’s timeless classics rockin’ the roof off of the Rainbow.

The Rainbow Bar and Grill is located at 9015 Sunset Boulevard. The “Dio at the Rainbow in the Dark” event is free.

One week after the Rainbow’s Dio celebration, the Whisky A Go-Go is hosting a night honoring the heavy metal legend on July 19, with the club’s biweekly Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood event set to crank out career-defining classics spanning Ronnie James Dio’s career, from Holy Diver to 2004’s Masters of the Moon as well as scorchers like “Man On the Silver Mountain,” “Gambler, Gambler,” and “Rock ‘n Roll Children” from his time in Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Elf, and Heaven and Hell.

The Whisky is located at 8901 Sunset Boulevard at Clark Street in West Hollywood. Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood’s Dio tribute will kick off at 10 p.m. and is free to those 21 and over, and $10 for those under.

SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD

Tower Records Sunset is stripped from the world-famous boulevard, with only rockin’ memories left in it’s shadow.

Opened in 1971 and shuddering in 2006 when the company went bankrupt, Tower Records Sunset is unarguably the iconic brand’s most famous outlet.

Situated in the heart of the Sunset Strip’s Rock Row, mere steps from the Whisky A Go-Go, its exterior’s vibrant yellow and red color scheme and huge colorful album cover replicas added to the vibrancy of the world-famous boulevard.

The former record shop at 8801 Sunset Boulevard also hosted some of the most unique rock events, concerts, and record release parties for every superstar from Mariah Carey and Shakira to Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie

Plus, while browsing through the racks at Tower Sunset, it was not uncommon to see rock stars like Henry Rollins and Slash checking out the latest releases.

EX-RECORD STORE ROCKERS: Axl Rose (left) and Rivers Cuomo

Also, future rock superstars like Guns N’ RosesAxl Rose, Weezer‘s Rivers Cuomo, and Green Jelly frontman Bill Manspeaker worked behind the counter at Tower Records Sunset before they moved on to careers headlining arenas.

Once Tower Records Sunset closed its doors forever in 2006, the building was utilized for everything from a pop-up art gallery showcasing work by The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy to interactive walk-through mazes promoting shows like Roswell and the movie Captain Marvel.

Most recently, the Tower Records Sunset location was used as the setting for the Hulu movie Pam & Tommy.

The local landmark is a protected historic institution that somehow ended up completely losing its shell recently thanks to lax protections and a new directive by its new retail proprietors.

Earlier this week crews began dismantling the walls and famous storefront. Despite its historic value, the building was forever changed and is unrecognizable as the famous yellow and red square building that was an unforgettable part of the Sunset Strip cityscape since the early Seventies.

Popular clothing and sneaker shop Supreme is the space’s new proprietor. It’s kind of ironic that in order to showcase their mammoth sneaker shop, Supreme completely removed the sole, er soul of the Sunset Strip.

THERE GOES MY HERO

Foo Fighters to honor Taylor Hawkins with special tribute concert at the Forum in September.

Great news for L.A. Foo Fighters fans. The hit-making band is set to play a tribute concert in honor of late drummer Taylor Hawkins on September 27 at the Forum.

The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert will feature an all-star lineup of guest performers, which will be announced at a later date.

Texas native Hawkins, who was raised in Laguna Beach, died on March 25 in Bogota, Colombia, where he was scheduled to perform with the Foos at the Festival Estereo Picnic, before headlining Lollapalooza Brazil. An official cause of death has not been released, but toxicological tests reportedly found a number of different narcotics in his system.

In a statement, the late musician’s wife, Alison Hawkins, thanked For Fighters fans for the “outpouring of love.”

“Taylor was honored to be a part of the Foo Fighters and valued his dream role in the band every minute of his 25 years with them,” said Hawkins.

Tickets for the L.A. tribute concert go on sale on June 17 at FooFighters.com.

The L.A. concert will be preceded by a September 3 tribute concert at London’s Wembley Stadium. The U.S. and U.K. performances are the only two shows announced.

‘BACKYARD BASH’ RETURNS TO SUNSET

Lita Ford, John 5, Enuff Z’nuff, and Iron Maidens are bringing classic metal hits to Rainbow’s ‘Backyard Bash’ in September.

The Sunset Strip is back in full swing as one of the most rockin’ places to party in SoCal thanks to the resurgence of some great recent rock shows that have reinvigorated a post-pandemic boulevard. Sunset was recently serenaded by the sounds of rock n’ roll legends like Stephen Pearcy, who headlined Rainbow Bar and Grill’s “Party in the Parking Lot” last month, and The RunawaysCherie Currie, who recently rocked the Whisky A Go-Go’s “Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood” event.

And thankfully, things are just starting to heat up. In fact, the Rainbow just announced the lineup for its hotly anticipated “Backyard Bash” fall showcase that is headlined by rock icon Lita Ford (pictured below). The concert showcase will also feature sets by fellow heavy metal hit-makers Enuff Z’nuff and John 5 rounding out a bill for what’s certain to be another excellent live outdoor event on Sunset in September.

Born in London and raised in Long Beach, Lita Ford is no stranger to the Sunset Strip, having rocked the Whisky and the old Gazzarri’s plenty of times as a teenage member of The Runaways, and later as a solo artist with hits like “Close My Eyes Forever” and “Kiss Me Deadly.” Lita’s scorching guitar solos are sure to be on par with that of Rob Zombie guitarist and ex-Marilyn Manson member John 5 (pictured below), whose solo set is sure to cover much of his 2019 release, Invasion, and 2021’s Sinner.

Enuff Z’nuff (pictured below) is no stranger to the Sunset Strip, having rocked the Whisky A Go-Go plenty of times, including recently when the band’s set included some stellar Beatles covers that they’ll likely showcase at the “Backyard Bash.”

Local faves the Iron Maidens and ex-Murder Dolls frontman Wednesday 13 are also on the bill for the “Backyard Bash,” an all-day concert event happening September 4 in the parking lot of the Rainbow, at 9015 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

RISE UP, GATHER ‘ROUND

Def Leppard’s Diamond Star Halos shines on the Sunset Strip on eve of band’s invite-only Whisky show.

On the eve of their hotly-anticipated show at the Whisky A Go-Go on May 26, Def Leppard left their mark on the Sunset Strip earlier today to announce the release of their new album, Diamond Star Halos.

The British band is in town to perform an invite-only concert as a promotion for the new album, sponsored by streaming giant SiriusXM.

Continue reading RISE UP, GATHER ‘ROUND

‘ROCK ROW’ RETURNS TO FORM

Sunset Boulevard welcomes rockin’ resurgence thanks to Rainbow’s ‘Party in the Parking Lot’ and Whisky’s tireless championing of live rock n’ roll.

For almost two long, agonizing years, the world-famous Sunset Strip’s “Rock Row” seemed like a ghost town because of the pandemic and it’s stranglehold on the fears of the general public.

But once the mask debates subsided and the world got back to semi-normal, the sounds of authentic rock and roll began once again filling the Sunset Strip with a buzz that has kept the scene alive since then, courtesy of some of the coolest concerts to ever hit WeHo post-pandemic.

Cherie Currie delivering timeless classics by The Runaways at “Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood.”

The Whisky A Go-Go and Rainbow Bar and Grill should be commended for keeping the flame of rock n’ roll alive through some challenging times by hosting recent free shows at the Whisky, with Tuesday’s Jam Night, and at the Rainbow with April’s “Party in the Parking Lot” with Ratt‘s Stephen Pearcy, Steel Panther, and Hollywood legends Pretty Boy Floyd.

Continue reading ‘ROCK ROW’ RETURNS TO FORM