Friday, April 1, 2011

The Legendary Whisky-A-Go-Go

The Whisky-A-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard opened on January 11, 1964.  The famous Whisky-A-Go-Go was the place to be in rock's infancy.  Johnny Rivers has the Whisky to thank for his career.  He wasn't a traditional artist in the sense that most of his records were recorded live at the Whisky-A-Go-Go where he often was the resident act.

Rivers was the first star to come out of the club.  The tradition of having a girl in a mini-skirt above the crowd dancing in a cage started fairly early.  The Whisky nearly always had two to three bands playing on a given night, but sometimes they weren't billed.  Local bands would try to get on as the opening act and often they would use that as a springboard to fame.


Here is just a small sampling of the acts who played at the Whisky in the late 60's and early 70's:

Rascals                                                                Jimi Hendrix
Grass Roots                                                        Cream
Beau Brummels                                                    Jackie Wilson
Gentrys                                                                Them
Buffalo Springfield                                                Youngbloods
Doors                                                                  Animals
Johnny Rivers                                                       Steppenwolf
Turtles                                                                  Hollies
Chamber Brothers                                                Linda Ronstadt
Jefferson Airplane                                                 Golden Earring
Outsiders                                                              Fleetwood Mac
Iron Butterfly                                                        James Gang
Smoky Robinson & the Miracles                           Bread
Little Anthony & the Imperials                               Grand Funk Railroad
Gladys Knight & the Pips                                       Kinks
Temptations                                                           Boz Scaggs
Four Tops                                                              Beach Boys
Little Richard                                                         War
Ventures                                                                Bob Seger
Led Zeppelin                                                         Steve Miller Band
Chicago Transit Authority                                       Alice Cooper
Blood, Sweat & Tears                                            Traffic
Spencer Davis Group                                             Canned Heat
Three Dog Night                                                     Lynyrd Skynyrd
Aerosmith                                                               Steely Dan
Bachman-Turner Overdrive                                     Foghat
Stevie Wonder                                                        Looking Glass
Little Feat                                                               Spirit
Labelle                                                                   Ten Years After
Black Sabbath                                                        Yes
Ted Nugent                                                            Uriah Heap
Allman Brothers Band                                             Blues Image
The Who                                                                Neil Diamond

The Whisky continued to host live acts, although these days there are simply thousands of other venues for groups to play at.  In the 70's groups such as the Runaways, Quiet Riot, Van Halen, the Ramones, Blondie, Elvis Costello and the Police played at the club.

Once the first wave of punk rock stars petered out, the famous Whisky began to have hard times and closed its doors in 1982.  But it reopened in 1986 as a place that could be rented by bands.  However, most of the booths disappeared and patrons were required to stand throughout the performances.  Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Motley Crue and the Red Hot Chili Peppers played at the Whisky in the 80's.  When the grunge-rock style took over in the 90's, the Whisky was the site for Soundgarden, Nirvana, and others.

The club is still open on the Sunset Strip with music nightly.

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