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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 RebelWithout a Cause and East of Eden toFriends andthe 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.”
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.
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.
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 NightHollywood’s Dio tribute will kick off at 10 p.m. and is free to those 21 and over, and $10 for those under.
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.
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.
The Whisky A Go-Go and RainbowBar 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.
Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood’s Randy Rhoads tribute concert was a family affair at Whisky A Go-Go, with special guests Kelle and Kathy Rhoads making a guest appearance.
The Whisky’s long-running Tuesday night showcase Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood, which has hosted tribute nights dedicated to everyone from Metallica to Motley Crue, set it sites on the iconic music of Randy Rhoads on March 15.
The evening paid tribute to Rhoads’ influential guitar work as well as the songs he had co-written while a member of Ozzy Osbourne‘s band and Quiet Riot.
The show featured Ozzy’s greatest hits performed by amazing tribute performers and rockin’ guest artists covering two hours of the greatest heavy metal classics ever written.
BulletBoys frontman Marq Torien rocked an acoustic show, Wolfgang Van Halen sold out the venue, and Dokken was back for the attack at Whisky A Go-Go throughout 2021, providing the Sunset Strip with some of last year’s best shows.
There was a good variety of decent rock shows to check out in 2021 that gave Angelenos something to take their minds off of the pandemic. And while legends like the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, and Slipknot rocked Inglewood’s newly-opened SoFi Stadium last year, some of the best intimate shows were happening in WeHo, where rock superstars like Wolfgang Van Halen, Don Dokken, George Lynch, Vivian Campbell, Vinnie Appice, and BulletBoys’ Marq Torien kept the Sunset Strip shakin’ with memorable sold-out shows and timeless stories at the Whisky A Go-Go.
BulletBoys’ Reunion Show Unexpectedly Turned into an Unplugged Solo Setwith Frontman Marq Torien Sounding as Smooth as Ever
The hotly-anticipated BulletBoys reunion show at the Whisky A Go-Go in December had been advertised for months. But at the last minute, plans unexpectedly changed on show night, explained frontman Mark Torien from the Whisky’s stage, where he delivered a scorching mostly-unplugged solo set. He didn’t explain why the reunion was cancelled, and instead he invited Whisky fave Ira Black to help out on timeless BulletBoys hits like “Smooth Up in Ya,” “Hell On My Heels,” and “Shoot the Preacher Down.”
Black’s scorching guitar contribution and Torien’s soulful metal pipes immediately had the crowd forgetting all about the reunion as they rocked along. Throughout the 90-minute show, Torien covered most of the best tracks on the L.A. band’s first two albums, BulletBoys and Freakshow. The Whisky crowd seemed won over by the impromptu solo show, especially when he got to the unplugged renditions of “Hard as a Rock” and the BulletBoys’ cover of The O’Jays’ “Money.”
Just as memorable as Torien’s set were the awesome stories he told between songs, about his glory days creating heavy metal history on the Sunset Strip, and getting props from David Lee Roth and Alex Van Halen when performing at WeHo’s Troubadour when he was 16.
Then again, hearing these first-person stories is what makes seeing a show at the Whisky so special. Throughout 2021, other Sunset Strip legends would also share fascinating personal anecdotes about their connection to the Whisky and the Sunset Strip.
Wolfgang Van Halen Marked a Milestone with Mammoth’s Historic Headlining Show at Whisky
When Wolfgang Van Halen’s band Mammoth headlined the Whisky shortly after their North American jaunt opening for Guns N’ Roses, the frontman looked around the room in awe from center stage and reminded the sold-out crowd, “So, this is where it all started…”
He seemed as in awe of the venue and its history as we were, and we all knew what “it” meant, of course. The Whisky’s stage is where his father and uncle’s iconic band launched a career that would make music history over and over again while inspiring countless young musicians whose first taste of world-class hard rock was hearing Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut.
Wolfgang seemed to know he had an important family history to uphold, and the former Van Halen bassist then spent the next hour and a half proving that he doesn’t necessarily need his Van Halen cohorts to effortlessly deliver a commanding, amp-shaking performance before a fist-pumping packed house at one of the world’s most iconic—and intimidating—rock n’ roll venues.
Band founders Don Dokken and legendary guitarist George Lynch to reunite at Dokken’s headlining Whisky shows in December.
One of the greatest bands from the heavy metal era of the awesome ’80s, Dokken is returning to the very launching pad that kick-started the legendary group’s hit-making career. There’s nowhere else you’re going to want to be on December 17 and December 18 than at the Whisky A Go-Go, when Dokken returns to the world-famous venue to set the roof on fire with timeless classics like “In My Dreams,” “It’s Not Love,” “Just Got Lucky,” “Alone Again,” “Dream Warriors,” and many more scorching metal masterpieces.
Sure, the the band’s namesake founder is the only original member in Dokken’s current lineup, but these shows are extraordinary events for hardcore fans. It marks a reunion of Don Dokken and the band’s original guitar hero, GeorgeLynch, who—along with drummer Mick Brown and bassists Juan Croucier then Jeff Pilsen—helped the band go on to sell over 10 million albums worldwide.
Artists turn L.A. streets into an urban art gallery any music fan would love.
In 2020, the Sunset Boulevard scene–from Rock Row to Dodger Stadium–has dramatically changed as a result of the pandemic and the nation’s turbulent political climate. And the changes extend beyond just the physical sense of seeing the famous, once-glamorous and vibrant landscape covered in bland blonde plywood and political graffiti.
The biggest impact is the deafening silencing of the world-class live rock and roll music that always seemed to be a ubiquitous part of the Sunset Strip. Regardless of when you visited Sunset’s Rock Row, there was always an exciting rock and roll energy and spontaneous soundtrack permeating the legendary thoroughfare and creating an intrinsic connection with visitors.
Until this year, there was always music in the night air, whether it was the power chords of superstars likeLita Ford or local faves like Budderside emanating from the Whisky A Go Go, or the rockin’ retro sounds of Missing Persons or L.A. rockers Warner Drive (pictured below) shaking the foundation of the Viper Room.
However, while the temporary closure of the Whisky, Viper Room and Roxy is tough on everyone, there is some good news.
Five of the hardest rockin’ shows headed to the Whisky A Go-Go in 2021.
Sure, we all know that the year 2020 sucks worse than that recent Tommy Lee album, but with a promising vaccine reportedly on the way, there are plenty of awesome concerts that we’re looking forward to in 2021 as we start to make up for lost time.And thanks to Pfizer, we’ll be doing it mask-free and close enough to scare the band. (That was a Fast Times at Ridgemont High joke.)
While we certainly love, respect and appreciate livestream shows from our favorite bands and nightclubs, nothing can ever replace the euphoria and excitement and the intrinsic connection with bands and fellow fans that a live concert offers. Catching concerts at the Whisky A Go-Go–which I’ve done countless times for decades–is a unique experience that wows all the senses.
Dokken and Lynch Mob bringing the hard rock hits to the Sunset Strip in 2021.
The world-famous Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset strip has been working overtime to keep rock alive while the nightclub is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus. The Sunset Strip landmark has been hosting livestream concerts from the Whisky stage by bands like Black Veil Brides, and on September 19, guitar goddess Orianthi will be busting some strings for a livestream show, and thrash metal monsters Armored Saint headline a livestream set on October 10.
Now, the Whisky has revealed another amazing show to look forward, and it’s not a lifestream show either. It’s a live, in-your-face double whammy concert bill featuring Lynch Mob and Dokken performing at a special two-night headlining gig at Whisky on Feb. 5 and 6. Lynch Mob is, of course, fronted by guitar hero George Lynch from Dokken. And it will be great to see the “Wicked Sensation” rocker back on the Whisky’s stage and rockin’ alongside longtime on again/off again bandmate Don Dokken.
WINGER CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF HITS AT WHISKY, NOV. 11
If you do the math, that nearly-jailbait babe that Kip Winger was serenading in 1988’s “Seventeen” would be a 44-year-old cougar today. But Kip and crew will still be cranking out the obsessive pop-metal ode to young lust when Wingerhits the Sunset Strip to rock the Whisky A Go-Go on Nov. 11. And that’s a good thing.
The New York rockers will be in town to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the band’s 1988 debut, Winger. The album spawned the hit singles “Headed for a Heartbreak,” “Madalaine,” “Hungry” and, of course, “Seventeen.”
Singer-bassist Kip Winger and his crew–guitarists RebBeach and John Roth anddrummer RodMorgenstein, will be rockin’ and rollin’ out all the hits from Winger straight up to “Better Days Comin'” and the scorching guitar-heavy rocker “Rat Race” from 2014’s Better Days Comin’.
EvolutionEden and Osairis are opening the Whisky show.
FLOTSAM & JETSAM CELEBRATE THREE DECADES OF DOOMSDAY, NOV. 5 AT WHISKY A GO-GO
Metallica‘s ex-bassist Jason Newstead‘s old band Flotsam and Jetsom is bringing its manic metal anthems to the Whisky A Go-Go on Nov. 5 . The metal stalwarts have just returned from a European tour and are promoting F&J’s self-titled 12th studio album, which was released last spring.
But even decades later, the Newstead-era “Hammerhead” and “She Took an Axe” from Flotsam’s 1986 debut, Doomsday for the Deceiver, and “Wading Through the Darkness” and F&J’s cover of Elton John‘s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” from 1988’s breakthrough album Cuatro, are still as blistering and badass as they come.
“We are very excited to get out with this package and thrash through the United States, playing material from our new album, fan favorites, as well as celebrating the 30-year anniversary of Doomsday for the Deceiver,” promises Flotsam and Jetsam drummer Jason Bittner.
Bay Area thrash-metal newbies Hatchetwill also be shredding at Whisky as Flotsam’s support act on the U.S. tour.
RELIVE HOLLYWOOD’S HEAVY METAL GLORY DAYS WITH THE BEST OF RATT, DOKKEN, SKIDROW, CINDERELLA & MORE MONSTERS OF METAL AT CATHOUSE LIVE, AUG. 15 IN THE O.C.
Legendary club promoter Riki Rachtman is back to save the modern music scene by opening up a big ol’ can of heavy metal whoop ass on August 15 with the hotly anticipated return of one of his most famous Hollywood clubs, the Cathouse. And he’s bringing a few famous friends with him when Cathouse Live rocks The O.C. this summer.
Bringing added heat to Southern California’s summer concert season are legendary hard-rock frontmen Sebastian Bach, Stephen Pearcy (right), Tom Keifer, Don Dokken and Tracii Guns, whowill be covering the greatest hits of Skidrow, Ratt, Cinderella, Dokken and L.A. Guns, respectively, onthe Cathouse Live main stage at Irvine Meadows.
Theheavy metal hit-makers will besharing an all-star bill with Extreme, Trixter, Saigon Kick and Sunset Strip refugees Bang Tango, BulletBoys, Junkyard, Pretty Boy Floyd and Little Caesar. Plus, there are many more timeless metal bands that will keep Cathouse Live rockin’ from sun up ’til sun down on August 15.
Rachtman’s rockin’ summertime revival offers a rare opportunity for fans to get a taste of the famous club he launched in 1986 with some help from Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe. Cathouse became a favorite hangout for the likes of everyone from Axl Rose (right) to Lita Ford and hosted every band from Pantera to Pearl Jam. The Hollywood hot spot, which closed its doors on Highland forever in the Nineties, is immortalized in classics by Motley Crüe, AliceCooper and Faster Pussycat.
We raise our Bics to Rachtman for bringing the best of classic metal back to SoCal this summer with Cathouse Live. And the best part? Tickets start at $15! Get more details here.
(Main photo: (clockwise from top, left to right): Don Dokken, Bang Tango, Sebastian Bach, Riki Rachtman, Trixter, Extreme, BulletBoys’ Marq Torien and Tracii Guns)