This Week in 1964: The Whisky a Go Go Opens

Thursday, January 11, 2018
This Day In

54 years ago this week, one of the most famous concert venues in the state of California first opened its doors. Indeed, it proved so influential that it subsequently became the first live music venue ever to be inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.

Located on the famed Sunset Strip, the Whiskey a Go Go was founded by Mario Maglieri, Phil Tanzini, and Elmer Valentine, and if you’ve ever wondered why they opted to lose the “E” in “whiskey,” it’s a simple answer: the Los Angeles city zoning laws refused to allow clubs to be named after alcohols, so they used a loophole to avoid prosecution. Mind you, it didn’t entirely work , hence the brief period when they were known as The Whisk? Still, they prevailed in the long run, and it’s a good thing for rock and roll that they did.

The first artist to perform at the Whisky was Johnny Rivers, and between his sets, disc jockey Joanie Labine played records in a booth that was suspended stage right. Oh, yes, and she also danced, hence the popularity of the so-called “go go dancers.”

To put together a list of everyone who’s played at the Whiskey a Go Go over the decades would be to create a document that would keep you reading for far longer than the average internet surfer, but suffice it to say that there are a whole lot of folks from the Rhino catalog who’d be on that list. In fact, we’ve put together a playlist filled with only artists from our roster who played the club. Once you’ve seen its contents, we think you’ll be ready to celebrate the Whisky, too.

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