The world-famous Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood celebrates its 50th year on the Sunset Strip with a month-long series of jam-packed shows, including Thursday's performance by Doors guitarist and songwriter Robby Krieger and his band Jam Kitchen.
Before the show, Whisky A-Go-Go owner Mario Maglieri and his wife Scarlett were presented an award by West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land.
Maglieri said he was impressed with Krieger back in the 1960s, but remembers telling him, "You'll never be a guitarist because you don't practice enough.” Of course the Doors were only one of many legendary acts to grace the Whisky stage. "I liked Hendrix -- he was a nice guy, good musician,” Magliere said. “Led Zeppelin, the Turtles you name it." Maglieri's son Mikeal , whose formal education was right on the Sunset Strip, started out at the club as a busboy.
Asked if his childhood was normal, Mikeal responded, "Normal my ass. No, no, no. Sex, drugs and rock and roll -- figure it out."
Reminiscing, the senior Maglieri said , "Who's that girl that used to put a case of booze in her trunk?"
"That was Pearl, Janis Joplin, (that would )keep her drunk for a few days." remembered Mikeal.
LA.COM caught up with Robby Krieger on the red carpet. The Doors got their start at the Whiskey and another club, the London Fog, in 1966. “The lady that liked us was the manager (at the Whiskey), Ronnie Haran, and she hired us to come here."
“This place used to be really classy,” he said of the Whiskey in its ‘60s heydey. “It was, like, red table cloths. “(Since then), they let it go to shit. It's too bad. But it's still the Whiskey -- and we love it."
Inside the club, the opening band Wild Roses kicked off the show with some hot go-go dancers on each side of the stage. A 50th Anniversary Whiskey A-Go-Go guitar was also raffled off. Robby Krieger's Jam Kitchen featured Arthur Barrow and Tommy Mars (of Frank Zappa's band), Larry Klimas (of Neil Diamond, WAR and Chicago) and Tom Brechtlein (of Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Robben Ford). They warmed up the crowd with a jazz-and-rock infused “Love Me Two Times.” Krieger, Barrow and Mars all took the lead-vocal spot on various songs from the Doors and Frank Zappa catalogs.
They launched into a funky jazz-rock medlye that sounded like an underwater echo chamber, or the sound of whales singing.
And when it seemed as if jazz was the only dish on the menu, they broke out with surprise guest vocalist Dave Brock, who does the Wild Child re-creation of Jim Morrison, bassist Phil Chen (who used to play with the Doors) and an additional set of horns.
That was as close as you'll get to the ultimate Doors vibe. Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were definitely there in spirit. They ripped through the Doors' many hits, including “Back Door Man,” “Wild Child,” “Roadhouse Blues,” “Riders of the Storm,” and “Light My Fire.”
It was a fine celebration of the Doors' legacy, as well as the Whiskey's. And it was also a birthday celebration for Krieger, who turned 68 on Jan. 8.