By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
Sunset Boulevard stretches from the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades east to Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles. The entire length of the fabled roadway is 27.5 miles. But only 1.6 miles of this legendary road is known as “the Sunset Strip.”
Located in the heart of West Hollywood there was a time when it was known as the playground to oldguard Hollywood elite like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and the home of infamous nightclubs and bars like Ciros and Mcambo.
However, the “Strip” might be most famous as the home of the most iconic rock and comedy venues in the world that are still entertaining crowds of customers almost every night.
Whisky a Go Go
8901 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood 90069. whiskyagogo.com
On Jan. 16, 1964 a small club on the Sunset Strip opened its doors for the first time. Johnny Rivers headlined the opening night concert.
It was The Whisky a Go Go, the first live music venue to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and perhaps the most iconic club on the Strip.
A DJ named Joanie Labine played records in a booth that was suspended to the right of the stage in between Johnny Rivers’ sets. Labine entertained the crowd by dancing and the idea of the go-go dancer was born.
In its nearly 60-year history The Whisky a Go Go has played host to some of rock ‘n roll’s most important acts including The Doors, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin.
The Doors begin their run as the house band at The Whisky a Go Go opening for every group to play there from May 23 to Aug. 21, 1966.
Artists like Frank Zappa, Neil Diamond, Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe were launched at the Whisky.
9009 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood 90069 www.theroxy.com
The Roxy Theatre opened its doors in 1973. Founded by Lou Adler and Elmer Valentine, with help from original partners, David Geffen, Elliot Roberts and Peter Asher.
On Sept. 20, 1973 the now famous music venue opened its door with a three-night performance by Neil Young. The first year featured headliners such as Cheech and Chong, Jerry Lewis, The Temptations and Frank Zappa.
Other headlines from the early 1970s included Joe Cocker, Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson, Hall & Oates, Bruce Springsteen and the Ramones.
The Roxy was not only a stage for musicians but also for comedians and actors. During the first few years the opening acts mainly consisted of emerging comedians including Jay Leno, David Letterman and Arsenio Hall. In 1981, The Roxy took a chance on little known comedian Paul Reubens and his eccentric character Pee Wee Herman.
Numerous “live” albums were recorded at The Roxy, some of the titles include: 1973 Linda Ronstadt: Live at The Roxy 1973 Genesis: Live at The Roxy 1974 Frank Zappa: Roxy & Elsewhere 1976 Patti Smith: Live at The Roxy 1978 Bruce Springsteen, The Boss: Live at The Roxy
The Viper Room
8852 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood 90069 www.viperroom.com
Far removed from rock’s heyday of the 1960s and 1970s The Viper Room opened its doors in 1993.
The Whisky a Go Go has played host to some of rock ‘n roll’s most important acts including The Doors, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. PHOTOS COURTESY WHISKY A GO GO
It was owned by actor Johnny Depp and Sal Jenco who starred in “21 Jump Street” with Depp.
At Depp’s request, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed on the club’s opening night.
The Viper Room became a prominent hangout spot for Hollywood’s most famous young actors and musicians.
Adam Duritz, the lead singer of Counting Crows, worked as a Viper Room bartender in late 1994 and early 1995 to escape his newfound fame.
The Pussycat Dolls performed there from 1995 to 2001. Other performers have included Stone Temple Pilots, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole, Lenny Kravitz, Pearl Jam and Iggy Pop. Keanu Reeves performed there in 1997 with his band Dogstar.
Sadly, the Viper Room won’t live to see its 30th anniversary.
On March 3 it was announced the iconic Viper Room will be demolished in favor of a 12-story high rise, with construction beginning in 2023.
It will become a residential building with restaurants, cafes, a luxury hotel, music venue and recording studio with original Viper Room memorabilia featured throughout the building.
However, there is still time to see the iconic Viper Room in action. Shows are scheduled through April.
The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store will celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 7, 2022.
It was founded April 7, 1972, by comedian Sammy Shore, his wife Mitzi and comedy writer Rudy DeLuca. It started because Shore needed a place to work out when he wasn’t on the road. He was the longtime opening act for Elvis Pressley.
It was the first all stand-up comedy nightclub in the world.
Famous comedian friends of Shore, such as Redd Foxx, Tim Conway, Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters could “work out” new sets at The Store.
Among the many comedians who launched careers at The Store in the 1970s were Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Garry Shandling, Paul Mooney, Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, Andy Kaufman and Michael Keaton.
In the 80s and 90s the Store’s new voices included Howie Mandel, Louie Anderson, Jim Carey, Arsenio Hall, Sam Kinson, Sandra Bernhard, Bill Hicks, along with Roseanne and Whoopie Goldberg.
The 2000s saw Joey Diaz, Bobby Lee, Steve Ranazzisi, Sebastian Maniscalco, John Caparulo, Whitney Cummings and Chris D’Elia take over the Stores famous stages.