Friday, February 01, 2008
Living on the Sunset Strip
I was one of the many people who worked there and lived to tell... I also lived behind the club for a couple years (commute to work: 30 seconds!)... it was a block jam-packed with future stars, too... Motley Crue lived in the apartment below mine... on the other side of the Whisky, across the street from Licorice Pizza - the record store - lived Joan Jett. One block away lived Rolling Stones long-time piano playing co-hort Nicky Hopkins and a couple blocks south of Nicky in a big garden apartment complex lived nearly all the guys in Milk & Cookies, and in their building lived Motown legend Mary Wells. That's Hollywood for you, though. After living behind the Whisky, I moved up the street a couple blocks and moved into a building where Derf Scratch from FEAR was my neighbor... and his pals John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd would always come over to see him and park in my or other people's spaces (Derf didn't have a parking spot of his own and often parked behind his neighbor's cars in the car port, effectively blocking us in til he woke up to move his car).
The Whisky A Go Go was the anchor of the legendary Sunset Strip, which hosted all the clubs that were the launch pad for many careers going all the way back to The Doors and Byrds in the 60s. Long before any other clubs opened... the Whisky was there, leading the way, and also being the established venue many other clubs try to emulate or to conquer.
These guys worked at nights during my Whisky days. The guy in the foreground is Paul, and behind him is the house sound guy, Greg.
While the front lines and public persona of the Whisky were the men you saw at the club and its high-profile, long time Sunset Strip moguls, Elmer Valentine and his partners Mario Maglieri (who spent his time up the street at the Roxy and the Rainbow Bar & Grill) and Lou Adler (who spent his time far away in Malibu)... on a daily basis during the day time, the Whisky was a whole different scene.
Michelle Myers pictured here with Stiv Bators was one of the people who booked the Whisky. People preceded her and people followed her but in the Golden Age of LA Punk Rock, Michelle Myers was the Queen... a protege of Kim Fowley, she... like Kim, Rodney Bingenheimer, photographer Brad Elterman and their crew... Michelle's vocabulary was peppered with phrases like "Its all happening" and "dog-hustle" as well a many others it might be imprudent to publish.
But back to my point... during the day in the Whisky, the whole business was taken care of by The Glue... women behind the scenes that people don't memorialize... Dee Dee Haddix and Marcia Greene were constants through out several eras. Elmer didn't spend that much time in the office, but when he did, he'd often be on his stationary bike which was in the corner of the big room upstairs, that after the 'office' closed, became "backstage."
"If these walls could talk" is a favorite saying... but for the Whisky, its one that is especially true... the people who have passed through the club made an indelible mark on contemporary culture. During the time I spent there, on the couple of occasions that new drywall was put up backstage, I'd spend time gazing at the original walls underneath as if they were fine art in a museum... graffiti from the Buffalo Springfield and all the 60s bands that played at the Whisky was there, undisturbed except by the easily removed sheet rock that created additional space for new graffiti. I've been told, but I haven't seen... the old walls torn down and old rock n roll memories gone with them. If its true, it would be kind of sad.
The Whisky provided the stage where I shot most of my favorite images, both on stage and backstage.
This art-ed up version of a picture of Belinda Carlisle and Pleasant is but one. I blew this up really big and its hanging in my Unguarded Moments: Backstage and Beyond exhibit, which is at Magnetic Field at the moment... BUT, the exhibit is coming down after this weekend... I've got to send the prints on to my next exhibit, in New Orleans. We are having a closing party on Saturday, February 2, from 6-8 PM -- Its Punk Rock Happy Hour! Its free, we'll have some snacks and you'll have one more chance to check out the photos blown up real big and to take some home if you want them...
If you can't come by, you can always look at these photos right here... And here is a very special deal on this image of Blondie's Debbie Harry - just click the picture!
Click here and find out how to have one of these Limited Edition photos of your very own!