Walkable WeHo: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Walk
Distance: 1 Mile/1.6 kilometers
The spirit of rock ‘n’ roll is not only alive in West Hollywood—it thrives. Rock legends old and new bring WeHo to life—they play hard at hip clubs and sleep it off in swanky hotels. The Strip is known for badass escapades and awesome live music. The Rock n Roll Walk on The Sunset Strip begins at…
1. Andaz West Hollywood Hotel
8401 Sunset Boulevard
Nicknamed “The Riot House,” this was the rocker hotel in the 1960s and 70s. Touring rock groups like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Doors all stayed here. Imagine wild parties on the balconies and trashed rooms. Drummer John Bonham is rumored to have ridden his motorcycle through the halls. Jim Morrison got evicted for hanging out a window by his fingertips. A glass panel in one of the rooms once read: “Come on baby, light my fire. Try to set the night on fire.” The Doors, 1967.
Walk to your right going west on Sunset Boulevard and across the street is…
2. Former House of Blues
8430 Sunset Boulevard
In the 60s it was called “His Place.” Operator, Evangelist Arthur Blessit publicized his ministry by walking up and down Sunset Strip dragging a giant wooden cross on wheels. Tupac Shakur gave his last performance here (RIP). The popular music venue closed in 2015 but the building still stands today.
3. The Comedy Store
8433 Sunset Boulevard
Formerly Ciro’s and It’s Boss, this was Humphrey Bogart’s favorite hangout in the 1940s. Decades later, The Byrds frequently played here. Bob Dylan came by to check out the new group, gave the thumbs up, and reportedly launched the band to stardom.
4. Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel
8440 Sunset Boulevard
A present-day celebrity hotspot and hangout for rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Guns N Roses, The Cranberries, The Who and many others.
5. Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club
8560 Sunset Boulevard
Today it’s an office building (sorry). In the mid-1960s, this was a happening scene, taking up the first four (of 10) floors with lines around the block nightly. Hef lived on the top floor with a round bed and moving wall with a fully stocked bar. His business partner Mario Maglieri, came out from Chicago in 1964 to help launch the club and left soon after to be a partner at Whisky a Go-Go down the street.
Cross the street still going west on Sunset Blvd…
6. Mel’s Diner
8585 Sunset Boulevard
You gotta eat at least one meal here—any hour of the day. Once known as Ben Franks, rockers in the 60s and 70s would chill here after gigs. It was also headquarters for teens in the 60s during the Sunset Strip riots. Mass arrests took place in the parking lot adjacent to it. Now it’s a great place to stop for a burger, milkshake, pie or just a coffee. American Graffiti and Entourage filmed scenes here.
7. Mutato Muzika
8760 Sunset Boulevard
This lime green spaceship-like building is probably the most unusual on The Strip. Actually it’s the studio and offices of Mark Mothersbaugh, formerly of Devo. They produced soundtracks for hit movies like The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Bottle Rocket and TV shows like Rugrats and Clifford The Big Red Dog.
8. Former Tower Records
8801 Sunset Boulevard
Now used for short-term pop-up stores, this is the site of the iconic Tower Records’ flagship store. Rock groups and performers popped in on the regular at for impromptu concerts and autograph sessions. In 1997, Duran Duran staged a reunion concert in the parking lot. Aerosmith autographed albums a few days later. In 1998, Rod Stewart performed here, too.
9. The Viper Room
8852 Sunset Boulevard
Johnny Depp and others opened this famous rock club in 1993. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers headlined the opening party. River Phoenix collapsed in front of the client and died from a drug overdose early Halloween morning that same year. Today the club hosts many famous rock, heavy metal and alternative rock stars.
10. Whisky a Go Go
8901 Sunset Boulevard
Opened in January 1964, Whisky a Go Go was an instant sensation with mini-skirted dancers elevated over the floor in cages. The Whisky made Johnny Rivers an immediate star in 1967. Jim Morrison and The Doors played as the house band in 1966. The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix all rocked here. Still a popular music venue, the Whiskey celebrates 53 years on January 14, 2017.
12. Pearl’s Liquor Bar
8909 Sunset Boulevard
The Doors played nightly before they became the house band at The Whisky. Today Pearl’s is a 1920s speakeasy-style restaurant and bar.
13. Sunset Office Tower
9000 Sunset Boulevard
Most of LA’s influential music and PR firms had offices here in the 60s and 70s. Jim Morrison balanced on a railing on top of the building while filming a scene for the movie HWY (1969). Music industry insiders still favor this iconic venue.
14. The Roxy Theatre
9009 Sunset Boulevard
Bruce Springsteen gave a breakthrough concert here in 1975. David Bowie, Neil Young and Prince played here. The Rocky Horror Picture Show made its U.S. debut here. Today, The Roxy hosts emerging talents like Roy Wood$, Royal Machines, Leon and Parachute.
15. The Rainbow Bar and Grill
9015 Sunset Boulevard
Rainbow was a hangout for John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Micky Dolenz, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and even Elvis Presley…the list goes on and on. A little non-rocker trivia—Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe came here on their first date in the 50s. Vincent Minnelli, owner of Villa Nova, asked Judy Garland to marry him here. Enjoy great people watching at the outdoor bar—you might see a famous rocker or two.
9039 Sunset Boulevard
The Doors and Van Halen were house bands here. Huey Lewis and The News shot an MTV video for their hit, “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” Today 10AK is a posh nightclub.
Note: Thanks to historian Jon Ponder for guidance on this tour!