Whisky A Go Go Turns 35 - Rolling Stone
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Whisky A Go Go Turns 35

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” . . .

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