Finn-Olaf Jones Official Website: Articles and Stories
  home | click here for articles | contact
Sep 30, 2014
Whisky A Go Go Turns 50 - Los Angeles Confidential

whiskey a go go
Fifty years ago, Whiskey A Go Go introduced miniskirted dancers spinning records between acts.

There’s arguably no nightclub on the planet that has had a bigger cultural impact than the Sunset Strip’s Whisky A Go Go, the launching pad for LA’s rock ’n’ roll scene. Inspired by a Paris boîte with the same name, the Whisky was the product of a midlife crisis by recently divorced ex-Chicago cop Elmer Valentine, who had a nose for talent and making a scene. He’s the guy who suspended short-skirted ladies above the cramped, tennis court-size auditorium for the world’s first DJ/go-go girl booths to spin records between acts.

And what acts! Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Marilyn Manson, and practically anyone else who would go on to pack stadiums jammed here. The Doors was the house band for a while in 1966 until Jim Morrison came up with the line about f---ing his mother as the climax to “The End”—even the Whisky had limits. Still, “the Whisky was a mecca,” Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek later said. “It was the place in Los Angeles. It was probably the place in the entire country.”

Judging from the lines in front of the joint on most weekends, it still is. But now piercings and tats have replaced the suits and dresses of the ’60s. The formidable white-haired Mario Maglieri, one of the original managers who owned the place for three decades—though at 90 he has passed the reins on to his son, Mike—still holds court here. “Sometimes I had to give Jim [Morrison] and some of the others a little life advice, but things were never out of control,” he says.

Things still look very much in control, with a team of 20-something booking managers and technicians scurrying about for that night’s act, L.A. Guns, which will soon be rocking the modest locale that Johnny Rivers, who opened here in 1964, would find largely unchanged. That lack of preciousness extends to Maglieri himself. Favorite act of the past half-century? “I’m Italian, I like accordion music,” he says.

back to top