Whisky A Go-Go

From Academic Kids

The Whisky A Go-Go is a nightclub in West Hollywood, California, at 8901 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset Strip. It has been called the first real American disco.

It was opened January 11, 1963 at the site of an old bank building that had been remodeled into a short-lived club called the Party, by a former Chicago policeman, Elmer Valentine. Valentine's partners were lawyer Theodore F. Flier, former press agent Shelly Davis, and Phil Tanzini.

Though the club was billed as a discothèque, meaning only recordings with no bands, the Whisky A Go-Go opened with a live band led by Johnny Rivers and a short skirted DJ spinning records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage. When the girl DJ danced during Rivers' set, the audience thought it was part of the act and the concept of Go-Go dancers in cages was born. Rivers rode the Whisky-born "go-go" craze to national fame with records recorded partly "live at the Whisky." The Miracles recorded the song Going to a Go-Go in 1966, which was covered in 1982 by The Rolling Stones, and Whisky A Go-Go franchises sprang up all over the country.

In 1966, the Whisky was one of the centers of the Sunset Strip police riots. The club was harassed repeatedly by the City of Los Angeles, which once ordered that the name be changed, claiming "whisky" was a bad influence. It was the "Whisk?" for a while.

Arguably, the rock and roll scene in Los Angeles was born when the Whisky started operation. From rock to punk to heavy metal, the club stood at the forefront of many musical trends.

The Whisky played an important roll many musical careers, especially for bands based in Southern California. The Byrds were regulars and The Doors were the house band for a while. Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention got their record contract based on a performance at the Whisky. Jimi Hendrix came by to jam when Sam & Dave headlined. Otis Redding recorded his album Live at the Whisky there in 1967. Many British performers made their first headlining performances in the area at the Whisky, including The Kinks, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Roxy Music. The Whisky was a focus of the emerging new wave and punk rock movements in the late 1970s, and frequently presented local acts as diverse as The Germs, The Runaways, X and Van Halen while playing host to early performances by the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, XTC, The Jam, among others.

The Whisky fell on hard times once the first flush of punk rock lost steam, and closed its doors in 1982. They reopened in 1986 as a "four-wall", a venue that could be rented by promoters and bands. The Whisky A Go-Go is now primarily used by hard rock bands.

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