.

Whisky A Go Go Turns 35

January 20, 1999 12:00 AM ET

As long as there has been a Los Angeles rock scene, there has been the Whisky a Go Go club. And as long as there has been the Whisky, there has been Mario. As co-founder of the Whisky and nicknamed "The Godfather of the L.A. Rock Scene," Mario is such a part of L.A.'s musical history that no one ever calls him by anything other than his first name. This month Mario turns seventy-five, but don't think that he's planning on slowing down. "Retirement is for old people," he says. "I'm only seventy-five. My aunt died at 105. I figure I got at least another 25 more to go."

On Saturday (Jan. 16), the Whisky hosted an all-star party in honor of Mario's birthday, and to begin a weeklong celebration of the Whisky a Go Go's thirty-fifth anniversary. Kicking off the evening with his blend of rockin' soul, Johnny Rivers burned through a set that included "Secret Agent Man" and "Memphis," the Chuck Berry song from Rivers' album Live at the Whisky a Go Go that became his first hit in 1964. Rivers' smooth and soulful set would be a tough act for anyone to follow, let alone Nancy Sinatra. Fortunately, she brought a top-notch band (including studio session veterans Hal Blaine on drums and Don Randi on keyboards) that made even her silly renditions of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Born to be Wild" sound good.

Robby Krieger showed off his deft guitar skills on some Doors tunes, as well as a jazzy instrumental piece, backed by a youthful band that included Krieger's son Waylon on rhythm guitar. Doors drummer John Densmore joined them to close the segment with "Love Me Two Times" and "Light My Fire."

The Grass Roots were joined by Phil "Fang" Volk and Drake Levin of Paul Revere and the Raiders (who took the stage in full revolutionary regalia) to bring the night to a fine close with songs from both bands, including a spirited performance of the Raiders' "Kicks."
All evening, Mario, surrounded by his family and friends, beamed with pride. Retirement? Forget it. "I'm gonna stay here," he says, "and I'm gonna rock & roll 'til I'm gone" . . .

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com