“I’d be safe and warm, if I was in L.A.” implored The Mamas and the Papas in their smash-hit love song for the city, 'California Dreamin'. Los Angeles is undoubtedly a rock’n’roll town, so there’s no reason to sing the blues with this list of L.A.’s Top 10 Rock’n’Roll Landmarks.
1. Whisky A Go-Go
Opened in 1964, the Whisky A Go Go on Sunset Boulevard is one of the city’s most historic rock venues. The Doors were once the house band, Metallica first encountered legendary bassist Cliff Burton there and ‘The Whisky’ was the launching pad for countless world-famous hard rock and hair metal bands during that most decadent of decades, the 1980s.
2. The Troubadour
Another mainstay of the Los Angeles music scene, The Troubadour in West Hollywood has been hosting bands since it opened in 1957. Renowned for nurturing a generation of singer-songwriters who went on to achieve worldwide fame, including the likes of Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison, the Troubadour is widely respected as a venue which broke countless best-selling artists.
3. The Roxy Theatre
A tough city beneath its glitz and glamour, Los Angeles has always been one of the epicentres of America’s punk scene. Local favourites Black Flag, Descendents, Bad Religion and Pennywise all went on to achieve international fame, and plenty of punk bands have spent time on the beer-soaked stage at The Roxy – including the legendary Social Distortion, who recorded an eponymous LP there.
4. The Roosevelt Hotel
”Welcome to the jungle!” screeched Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose about Los Angeles, and it’s fair to say the erratic lead singer has probably spent a debaucherous night or two at The Roosevelt Hotel. Enjoying a resurgence since a mid-2000s revamp, this old-school hotel hosts celebrity-laden parties around its rock-star-frequented hotel pool.
5. The Rainbow Bar and Grill
Sandwiched between The Roxy Theatre and the sadly defunct Key Club, the Rainbow Bar and Grill is a West Hollywood institution. It’s a bar and restaurant known for attracting a diverse range of clientele, including several rock stars who made names for themselves in the 1980s and still party like the decade never ended.
6. The Hollywood Palladium
A venerable old-stager in a city not known for its conservation, The Hollywood Palladium is an Art Deco-era theatre located in prime position on Sunset Boulevard. Its dance floor holds upwards of 4,000 people, making the Palladium one of the largest venues in the city, and one with more than 70 years of rock history.
7. The Viper Room
Despite its tragic connotations – it was on the sidewalk outside that actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 – The Viper Room has long been known as a popular hang-out for rock stars and celebrities. It’s also a dedicated live music venue, meaning the next movie star you could see could be propped up at the bar.
8. The Echo
It’s always hip to be seen in Los Angeles, and the trendy neighbourhood of Echo Park is increasingly the place to be seen in. That’s especially the case at The Echo, which plays host to some of the country’s hottest upcoming bands in a space which positively oozes an edgy, hipster vibe.
9. The Greek Theatre
Largely known outside the city for its role in the Russell Brand-lead 'Get Him To The Greek,' The Greek Theatre in leafy Los Feliz is actually one of Los Angeles’ most storied music venues. An amphitheatre designed in the grand tradition of outdoor venues, this 5,000-capacity venue was the setting for Neil Diamond’s legendary live album, 'Hot August Nights'.
10. Amoeba Records
Arguably the most famous independent record store in the world, Amoeba's sprawling Los Angeles location became an instant Hollywood landmark when it opened in 2001. Not only does it stock one of the largest ranges of music anywhere on the planet, it also boasts some of the best in-store appearances around, allowing you to see some of your favourite bands while you shop.
Words by Mike Tuckerman