Tag Archives: whisky a go-go

SUCKING IN THE ’70s

Whisky A Go-Go and Hal Sparks set to host a night of classic rock from one of the greatest eras for music.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to have lived through at least part of the ’70s, you’re in luck because the Whisky A Go-Go is going to take rock fans back in time to the good old days when Zeppelin ruled and nobody even knew what twerking was yet. 

Tuesday Night Music Club: Chuck Wright (l.) & Hal Sparks

On January 17, actor, rocker, and Nerd Halen frontman Hal Sparks is once again hosting Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood, which is themed “That ’70s Jam.” The set will include two hours of stellar rock covers of Me Decade masterpieces delivered by world-class working musicians that you probably have seen before performing in some of your favorite classic and modern rock bands, from Quiet Riot to Duran Duran.

Beasts of Burden: Rolling Stones circa 1970s

Plus, Sparks is a very entertaining and funny emcee that makes the segway between numbers go very smoothly, so the entire evening just feels like one big party.

Down at the Whisky: Hal Sparks at Ultimate Jam Night

Sparks is a musician and diehard rock fan who truly knows his rock history even when he’s not reading from the clipboard. He will often riff on interesting factoids about the bands and songs throughout the evening, which is also a fun part of the Tuesday night events.

Kings of Teenage Wasteland: The Who

During the “That ’70s Jam” tribute concert, you can expect the Seventies aura–and likely the aroma–to be spot-on during the Whisky’s homage to the hard rock hits and ballsy ballads of one of the best eras for music that gave us everlasting classics by KISS, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, The Sweet, and so much more.

Shout It Out Loud: KISS pretty much owned the Seventies

And when it comes to recreating classic songs, nobody does it like the band from the Whisky A Go-Go’s famous “Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood” event. In fact, a while back when they covered the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” with Leif Garrett on vocals, they had at least a dozen musicians on stage to make sure they replicated every nuance of that classic song. (Props to Leif Garrett, too, for completely delivering on that rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece.)

He Was Made for Rockin’: Leif Garrett at Whisky

So, if they dare to cover “Stairway to Heaven” at “That ’70s Jam,” you can bet it’s going to be the next best thing to sitting on a grassy knoll in Golden Gate Park stoned out of your mind watching Led Zeppelin do it at Kezar Stadium in 1973.

Rock and Roll: Led Zeppelin looking effortlessly cool backstage in the ’70s

The cool thing about watching the band cover Zeppelin at the Whisky is that you’ll be standing in the same room where Led Zeppelin performed on January 5, 1969. Like, that’s sure to give the stoners a super-cool high, man.

The Whisky A Go-Go is located at 8901 Sunset Blvd., at Sunset and Clark St. An opening band starts the evening off at 8 p.m. “That ’70s Jam” kicks off at 10 p.m. Free to those 21 and over. Yes, this night of world-class live music is free!

HEY, I KNOW THAT DUDE!

On Monday nights in L.A., about the only sure shot you got is Fast Times at the Whisky A Go-Go.

The Whisky A Go-Go‘s Monday night house band, Fast Times, is a totally awesome and completely tubular ’80s tribute band that never fails to knock your neon lime green socks off and get your checkerboard Vans moshing.

Bored on a random Monday night, we cruised over to Sunset and Clark to catch yet another set by Fast Times, which has been the Whisky’s Monday night house band for the past two years. And they always give one of the coolest, most faithful sets of ’80s covers that are spot-on and have an awesome added edge that comes from the high-energy live show that includes plenty of audience participation.

Throughout the show, the faux Jeff Spicoli frontman brilliantly segues from handling the vocals of Jon Bon Jovi one minute to Dave Gahan the next and then effortlessly switching to Mark Almond and Holly Johnson, and the segue is as smooth and crisp as the keyboard riffs of a Casio.

Fast Times always manages to engage the audience to the point that for a moment in time, the Whisky feels like you just stepped into a rockin’ prom circa 1985. The crowd is very much into the experience, everyone knows the words of every song, and they’re excited by just how good the covers are.

Plus, the audience is often invited to sing/yell the choruses into the microphone during the many times various band members step up into the edge of the stage. Fast Times’ set feels more like a really wicked party than a concert. 

The only disappointment came when we stepped outside and realized there wasn’t a 1982 DMC DeLorean waiting to hit 88 mph and take us back to the ’80s for good.

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.

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.

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.

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

RHOADS WARRIORS

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.

Continue reading RHOADS WARRIORS

SUNSET STRIP’S BEST ROCK SHOWS OF 2021

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 Set with 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.

Continue reading SUNSET STRIP’S BEST ROCK SHOWS OF 2021

ROCKIN’ LIKE DOKKEN

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, George Lynch, 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.

Continue reading ROCKIN’ LIKE DOKKEN

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1985

Hey, bud, let’s party! Faux Jeff Spicoli hosts ‘Fast Times’ and rolls out the best of ’80s rock at Whisky A Go-G0 every Monday Night.

The Whisky A Go-Go is slowly but surely getting back into the swing of rocking your face off again with awesome live shows and concerts that will make you remember exactly why the Sunset Strip is the birthplace of rock and roll.

There is nowhere else in the city of Los Angeles where you’re going to get as much world-class entertainment–for $10, no less–than at Whisky’s weekly event, “Fast Times.”

The moniker is both the name of the event and the band that headlines the evening of totally awesome all-1980s hits at the hottest party you’re ever going to find anywhere in Hollywood on a Monday night.

It’s actually more precise to say that “Fast Times” is the name of the band, and the band is an event. They deliver note-perfect covers of high-energy, fist-pumping rock and pop classics by bands everyone loves, like Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, and Bon Jovi, and the energy in the room, the visuals, and the faux Jeff Spicoli host combine to make this one of the coolest Eighties parties this side of a Ridgemont High prom.

Continue reading PARTY LIKE IT’S 1985

SOUNDS OF SABBATH

RAINBOW

Return of Rainbow’s ‘Backyard Bash’ brought classic metal back home to the Sunset Strip.

It’s been a hell of a wait but on Sept. 5, the Rainbow Bar and Grill welcomed back all the heavy metal you could handle with the triumphant return of its annual “Backyard Bash,” an all-day live concert event featuring national and local bands cranking out heavy metal hits in the parking lot behind the Roxy and Rainbow.

After having its spring events canceled twice and their fall event once, the Sept. 5 event marked the first time the Rainbow hosted a rock n’ roll party of this magnitude. And it did not disappoint.

Continue reading SOUNDS OF SABBATH

BACK FOR MORE

Gilby Clark covering the Rolling Stones at Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood.

Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood officially confirms it’s coming back to the Sunset Strip in August!

It has been a long couple of months trying to get used to some kind of balance of a normal life during this crazy corona situation that’s happening around the world. It’s been especially tough in Los Angeles County, where the mask mandate just seems to fluctuate with the wind.

However, I received some great news recently as I was walking down Sunset and passed the Whisky A Go-Go as it was hosting a surprise show by Yungblud.

I spotted Whisky’s owner and had to ask about the return of Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood, which is the greatest thing to happen to the world-famous club since The Doors was its house band. Mikael Maglieri confirmed that it was “definitely coming back, most likely in August.”

Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes showed up to Jam Night on his motorcycle.

Then, a short time later, the official Instagram page of Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood confirmed that the night is coming back on August 24. Nothing could be more awesome than hearing that news, because that one single night is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen of the Whisky A Go-Go in my life, and I have seen plenty of shows there by the biggest artists on the planet going back as far as the awesome Eighties.

Continue reading BACK FOR MORE

AMERICAN GRAFFITI

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 like Lita 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.

Warner Drive band

However, while the temporary closure of the Whisky, Viper Room and Roxy is tough on everyone, there is some good news.

Continue reading AMERICAN GRAFFITI

WHISKY CURES EVERYTHING

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.

Whisky A Go-Go
Setting the scene for virtually every Whisky show is the ubiquitous aroma of fine cannabis that wafts above small cliques of Whisky patrons usually seen hanging out in front of the club between sets. The contact high provides a decent buzz that adds to the excitement of seeing the awesome interior of the legendary venue and its unique rock artifacts that cover its walls and pay tribute to past Whisky headliners and house bands like Motley Crue and The Doors.

Continue reading WHISKY CURES EVERYTHING