Whisky A Go-Go, a Live Music Icon on the Sunset Strip

The Whisky on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard
Dave G. Houser/Getty Images

The Whisky a Go-Go is a live music venue on the Sunset Strip known for launching the careers of musicians of every genre since the 1960s.

History of the Whisky a Go-Go

Whisky a Go-Go is the oldest of the of the live music venues still operating on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, having first opened in 1964, but it was closed for a few years in the 1980s.

The Whisky a Go-Go in LA was pattered after a "discotheque" of the same name in Chicago, but the West Hollywood venue opened with Johnny Rivers playing a live set with DJ music in between. There was no room on the floor for the DJ booth, so the owners built a glass-walled booth suspended over the stage. When the female DJ started dancing to the band, the crowd thought it was part of the show, so the club hired additional dancers to don fringed dresses and white boots and the Go-Go dance craze was born.

Like most venues on the Sunset Strip, everyone who is anyone in the rock n' roll scene played at the Whisky and many careers were made here. Soon after The Whisky opened, they hired Neil Young, Stephen Stills and the newly formed Buffalo Springfield as the house band for a seven week run, followed by Jim Morrison and The Doors who were "discovered" playing there by scouts from Elektra Records and received their first recording contract.

Other big names who have played the Whisky A Go-Go include The Who, the Kinks, the Byrds, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Sonny & Cher, The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Germs, The Runaways, X, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, The Police, Motley Crue, and Guns N' Roses.

Avril Lavigne broadcast a live acoustic set from the Whisky in 2009.

The Whiskey closed as a club in 1982 and reopened in 1986 as a venue that could be rented by promoters and bands and became part of the "pay for play" model, where instead of venues paying bands, bands pay venues for a block of tickets, or bands make a percent of the cover charge.

This practice has led to fans following bands they know rather than counting on any particular venue to have reliably good music, which has been to the detriment of the reputation of the venues themselves.

Whereas once upon a time you knew the venue's booking agent was looking to discover the next great thing, now they'll take just about anyone who can bring in their own crowd.

Current Music at the Whisky a Go-Go

Bands range from thrash metal to hip hip, but lean more toward metal. You might find the occasional lesbian-themed night or singer/songwriter set, just to confuse people. Check their website listed below for the current calendar.

The Venue

Whisky a Go-Go is an all ages venue, so you may see teens and the band members' kids in the audience. The main floor is a dance floor. There are a limited number of tables on an upper balcony, but depending on the show, they may be reserved for VIPs. There are bars upstairs and downstairs.

Whisky a Go-Go
8901 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 652-4202
All Ages
Bar Food Served
Full Bar for over 21