Whisky a Go Go is still a legendary part of West Hollywood’s nightlife today and has been a staple of the LA scene since opening its doors in 1964. Since then it has become one of rock’s most holy churches that has welcomed the most hellish of choirs. One such band were The Doors, acting as the club’s house band for some time before a misdemeanour from Jim Morrison got them indefinitely banned.
The venue which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 and only has a capacity of 500. But however small in stature it has become somewhat of a rite of passage for any American act. For that reason it has helped launch new talent across its years of opening.
Some of the names that played their part in cementing the venue’s legacy include the aforementioned The Doors, The Stooges, Buffalo Springfield, Guns N Roses, Blondie, Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper even recorded a special live album at the venue in 1969. You name a member of rock royalty and the chances are they have played a set or two in their time at Whisky a Go Go.
1966 was the year where The Doors would hone their craft and become the talk of Los Angeles, which was largely down to their now-legendary residency at Whiskey a Go Go. The Doors earned this coveted spot following a three-month residency at the not so well respected Los Angeles club called London Fog which is often described as being ‘run down’ and ‘sleazy’. However, this caught the eye of Mario Maglieri, who owned Whiskey a Go Go, sure enough, he didn’t need any persuading in handing the band a spot at his venue.
The Doors would create a whole host of moments that have found their place in the history books from their stint at the venue. They held a 3-month run at the notorious club before Morrison would inadvertently get them sacked from their residency.
One such moment came when Van Morrison, performed a two-week residency at the West Hollywood landmark in May 1966 with his group Them, he would be joined by Jim Morrison and co for the run of shows. On the last night of his residency, The Doors joined the band on stage to perform ‘In the Midnight Hour’ and a twenty-minute raucous jam session of Them’s ‘Gloria’. It was all going so well.
August 21st would spell the end of The Doors’ run at the venue, however, as during their performance of ‘The End’, which was their set closer over this period, Jim Morrison, who’d missed the first of two sets that night because he was at the Tropicana Hotel tripping on LSD, (allegedly naked excluding a pair of cowboy boots) decided they were going to play it earlier in their performance.
Once they got stuck into the epic track, Morrison began an LSD infused vocal ad-lib that would go on to become the song’s trademark but here was where it was debuted and nobody apart from the frontman knew where it was going. Allegedly, the whole of the venue came to a standstill. Waitresses stopped serving drinka and the go-go girls stopped dancing.
Towards the end of the track, Morrison finally belted out an Oedipus Rex couplet about killing his father and fucking his mother. It was enough to push Maglieri over the edge and he fired the band as soon as they left the stage. Morrison had gone too far.
Getting sacked from their residency wasn’t the end of the world as they had just signed their first-ever deal with Elektra Records just three days prior and were graduating onto bigger things.
Without the Whisky a Go Go The Doors may not have become the rock and roll powerhouses they were. Equally, without The Doors the Whisky would be nowhere. Relive one of their performances form this bootleg below.