Sunset Strip institution Whisky a Go-Go celebrates its 50th anniversary on Jan. 16 with a show by Robby Krieger. His group The Doors, were the nightclub’s house band in the years after the Whisky made discotheque and go-go dancers a national craze. The iconic building went on to anchor the Sunset Strip music scene from surf to punk to metal to now, and gave important early exposure to Neil Young, Frank Zappa (who married Whisky secretary Gail Sloatman), Johnny Rivers, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, X, The Motels, Guns N’ Roses and Soundgarden. In true Whisky form, the venue will be packed with anniversary shows all month, from Lita Ford to the Bangles (Jan. 26). And if you see a motley crew at the Whisky, it may very well be a nostalgic Motley Crue.
“Vince Neil is a doll when he’s sober, but one time he whacked one of my guys with a pizza because he parked his car in the back instead of the front,” says owner Mikeal Maglieri, 62, who started out in 1966 as a busboy working for his Whisky-owning father Mario, 90, whom Mikeal calls the King of Sunset. “I can’t listen to ‘Light My Fire’ on the radio, because I had to hear the Doors rehearse it for hours a day, while I was setting up chairs,” says the younger Maglieri. “I told Oliver Stone he got Jim Morrison all wrong – he wasn’t a mystic, he was a party animal, in here every night. I gave Janis Joplin her last drink, four shots of Southern Comfort, and dad said, ‘Put the bottle in her trunk.’ Next day the headlines said she died of alcohol poisoning. It was actually heroin, but for three days I thought I killed her. She was a mellow chick, but smelly – she bought her clothes at Goodwill.”