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  1. #1
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    Default Sunset Strip questuins

    This is going to be the thread where I discover all the answers I've sought regarding the magical era of the 80s and the Strip.

    To start with:

    1) Were the bars spread out over a wide area - literally down a long strip of road - or relatively close together like a little community?

    2) Did pay-to-play mean bands paid the venue to hire the room - a fair exchange for the exposure (plus the opportunity to recoup costs via selling merch) or did it mean buying all the tickets off the club and then reselling them at whatever price they want, hopefully at a mark-up?

  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing!
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    I wasn't there in the '80's, I only know that scene from the Metal Years documentary, but I've been there a few times 1997-now.

    The Whisky and Rainbow are maybe a block away from each other. I'd always had the impression the Rainbow was a venue, but found it's actually a rather musty-smelling old '70's-style steakhouse and bar. Back in 1997 a friend who had moved there was driving and I said, "Oh, wow! There's the Rainbow! Let's go in!" He said, "You know who's in there? People who don't know the '80's are over!" So I didn't get to go in until 2014 when I visited by myself.

    The Whisky is about a block away. I got to go in there in 2014, too. Surprisingly it's not much different than any bar that packs four or five bands on the bill, and they're not all mega-talented. I realized yes, The Doors started on that stage, and it was the last place Janis Joplin was seen before she died, but the talent was within them, not the building.

    I think pay-to-play refers to, the venue gives you something like 100 tickets in exchange for $1,000, and you're expected to sell them yourself, like Girl Scout cookies. Whatever you don't sell, which will be a lot if you're unknown, is what you're in the hole for.

    The Roxy is also near there, I think another couple of blocks down. Gazzari's is further away and became the Key Club, and then closed for awhile, then reopened as yet something else. It's a lot further down, I think.

    The Hollywood Guitar Center, which has Eddie Van Halen's hands in the cement, is also in the Rainbow/Whisky/Roxy vicinity. The Troubador is somewhere else from all this and I've never gotten to see it at all.

    The Whisky/Roxy/Rainbow/Gazzari's are all on Sunset Boulevard, as is Sunset Sound. Further up Sunset by a few miles and part of a different history but also cool is The Comedy Store, and The Laugh Factory isn't far from that. The Chateau Marmont where Led Zeppelin stayed and John Belushi OD'd is near The Comedy Store, and the Hyatt where I think Jim Morrison lived for aehile is next door.

    One street over is Hollywood Boulevard. The Grauman Chinese Theater, Dolby/Kodak Theater, and Jimmy Kimmel's studio are all clustered together on that one block. Live Nation, which controls the American large venue concert business, is also right there a block up. There's also an army recruiting station and a pawn shop with a Marshall Valvestate half stack in the window to remind you of the flip side of the dream.

    But now I'm telling you about things you didn't ask about.

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  4. #3
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    I could very well be wrong, yet seem to recall another variation on the pay to play thing.
    There were supposedly certain nights where a label A&R guy was said to be in the audience, and bands would pay a fee to be on the bill, in the hopes of getting discovered and signed.
    "There's too many people on this basketball that's floating around the sun, who are too afraid to allow themselves to FEEL" - Edward Van Halen
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    "Embrace the past. Live in the moment but keep your eyes on the future, and keep on moving forward..." - Richie Sambora

  5. #4
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    I knew this thread would get me nostalgic!

    I went to the Rainbow my last night there, and was packing the Whisky into the same evening, so I had to move fast. You had to pay $5 to get into the Rainbow, but you got a free well drink with it (I'd heard the term "well drink" all my life, but still didn't know what it was!). I got my beverage and did a quick lap around the patio, and thought, "Eddie Van Halen approached Richie Blackmore on this very patio and got a 'why are you bothering me?' look!" I saw the rock n' roll trivia machine, but did not see Lemmy there. (However, earlier in the week I had gone to Amoeba Records, and the lady who rings up his Beatles box set was at the register.)

    Then I went inside, and asked a (is this at all interesting? Oh, well, I'm having fun recollecting it!) waitress if she could point out where Led Zeppelin used to sit. She had no idea, and told me to ask an older guy at the door. He pointed at a booth and said, "Right there." I told him, "You must get that question every 45 minutes, huh?" He said, "No, not really." I guess the rest of the world isn't as fascinated by this stuff as I am? As I was talking to him, Ron Jeremy walked in.

    Then I went to the Whisky, and saw this band. I knew I wanted to see the Whisky and hear a halfway decent band while I was at it, so I researched everyone who was playing there that week and chose this band. This girl and the guy on guitar had a really awesome acoustic duo, and I thought the girl wrote great songs. Plus, she was very nice looking and it was easy to imagine teenage girls idolizing her. This was the first show they where they tried a full band format. I approached the guitar guy and told him I was there from Atlanta and had come there that night because their band seemed like the best playing all week. (I would be on the left somewhere in this video.) I was talking to them about being on my old podcast, but unfortunately they folded up about two shows after this one. The last I saw, the girl is doing generic pop dance music. Her and him should've stuck together with the acoustic thing.


  6. #5
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    Default The memories keep a-comin'!

    I have yet more nostalgia...

    As I stood there at the Whisky, I didn't know the promotional videos for VH 1 were recorded on that very stage! My soundtrack through that whole trip had been the New Year's Eve 1977 Whisky show. ("I judge each year by the Thai sticks.")

    The first time I went there in 1997 my plane landed at something like 2 a.m. and a friend picked me up. I was blown away when we were driving down the freeway and there was a big building with a sign that said Geffen Records on the side. In Atlanta you see buildings that say Home Depot or Crystal Springs; not nearly as exciting. Then we cruised past some building with a sign that said Zappa Records -- Frank Zappa's own record label! Just sitting there like you would see a McDonald's anywhere else.

    I picked up an LA Weekly, which I still have, and thought, "Now we'll see what a REAL music scene looks like!" I was stunned to open it and see the names of the same bowl haircut/Fender Mustang bands you would see in Atlanta. I guess Odin had long since packed it in and Seduce were back in Detroit by then.

    I returned in 1998 and me and some friends who were living out there went to a restaurant called Genghis Cohen. They had a flier on the table for a singer-songwriter night, and I recognized all the names as being people from Atlanta who played at a place called Eddie's Attic here. Seems like Jennifer Nettles and Christian Bush of Sugarland might've been on that flier. This told me hair metal was done and alternative rock was in coast-to-coast.

    Also in `98, I saw Janine Garofalo and Harry Dean Stanton were doing a show where they both had bands that would be rocking out. That's back when Janine Garofalo was hot and it was only $12. I begged everyone let's go. We wound up staying in and playing Risk?!

    You also pass the Capitol Records building going most anywhere in that area. Frank Sinatra, and surprisingly the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, emanated from that building. Loretta Lynn actually cut her first single in Hollywood because she was living in Tacoma.

    Okay, I think I'm done with memories. I think.

  7. #6
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    Cool stories and nostalgia, Art!
    It's almost time for me to crank that bootleg... No 'Thai sticks' for this guy, yet I can still be a Beer Drinker and (good natured) Hellraiser. Haha.

    "Let's hear it for Edward..."
    "There's too many people on this basketball that's floating around the sun, who are too afraid to allow themselves to FEEL" - Edward Van Halen
    "Van Halen was never about the singer..." - A very wise fan.
    "Embrace the past. Live in the moment but keep your eyes on the future, and keep on moving forward..." - Richie Sambora

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  9. #7
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    I was hoping some people who were closer to the action would chime in. I only have a few vague vacation recollections from well after the scene was over. I know we have several people here from the actual area. Surely some of you guys were there in the heyday of London, Wet Cherry and Tuff?

  10. #8
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    Nothing to add other than i walked past the Whiskey the other day with my wife while visiting LA - pretty much opposite was the Viper Room so i suggested a quick beer but she wasn`t impressed by the interior so we didnt bother!

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    would have loved to have gone there in its hey day

  12. #10
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    This just came up in my YouTube feed: Vixen! "Where are they now?" They all wound up with ordinary jobs. Drummer was in Wisconsin, looks like she's a housewife, the singer was in Connecticut. Guitar player working in an office, looks like the bassist worked in a knitting store? Wow. I think it was the singer I remembered from The Metal Years: "But I WILL make it!"


  13. #11
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    Went to the Rainbow 6-7 years ago, before Lemmy had passed. During the day, not much going on. Had a few drinks and played the trivia game there on the outside bar. Got my name on the high scores list, Lemmy was on there several times. He used to just sit there and play the game and drink his jack I guess. Lots of neat pics on the walls there. Not sure what the nightlife scene nowadays is.
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  14. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtyBoy View Post
    This just came up in my YouTube feed: Vixen! "Where are they now?" They all wound up with ordinary jobs. Drummer was in Wisconsin, looks like she's a housewife, the singer was in Connecticut. Guitar player working in an office, looks like the bassist worked in a knitting store? Wow. I think it was the singer I remembered from The Metal Years: "But I WILL make it!"
    Guitar player has, I believe, passed already.
    "I'm the opposite of Bill Cosby. Diamond Dave always gets your approval." (DLR)

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  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwood P. View Post
    Guitar player has, I believe, passed already.
    Yep! Ovarian cancer in 2013. Geez. Wound up with a regular office job, then died. Did I want to know the rock n' roll dream ended that way? Well it did!

 

 

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