Early Thursday afternoon, the Rainbow Bar & Grill made a sad announcement on its official Facebook page. Whisky A Go-Go impresario, Mario Maglieri, is dead at age 93.
“Dear Rainbow friends and family, it is with great sadness to announce the passing of our beloved Mario Maglieri. Owner and founder of The Rainbow Bar And Grill and The Whisky a Go Go.
He passed this morning while surrounded by loved ones.
We will announce services shortly.
We ask that you please allow the family time to grieve.
Thank you for your understanding.
–The Rainbow & Whisky Family”
To say that Mario Maglieri changed the face of the Sunset Strip is putting it mildly. From the night the venue opened in January, 1964, the fabulously fabled Whisky A Go-Go has defined the L.A. rock ‘n’ roll scene. Known in the day as the place musicians went to see, hear, and hang out with other musicians, the Whisky stands today as brick-and-mortar testament to the longevity of rock ‘n’ roll.
Musical acts who got a foot in the door of the music biz at the Whisky are too many to mention. Notable bands hired by Mario Maglieri to perform onstage at the now-venerable venue include Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Them, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Chambers Brothers. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, The Mothers, Beau Brummels, The Turtles, Iron Butterfly, and Jefferson Airplane were frequent performers at the hippest joint on the Strip. The club launched the careers of Johnny Rivers and Jim Morrison, who was famously evicted from the Whisky after mentioning an untoward act with his mother during the monologue in the Doors’ song, “The End.”
Rest in peace Mario Maglieri, 1924-2017, King of the Sunset Strip pic.twitter.com/TaZeEfg24f— Whisky A Go-Go (@TheWhiskyAGoGo) May 4, 2017
In 2013, Mario’s son, Mikael Maglieri, talked about his father’s Hollywood enterprises in Mxdwn magazine.
“The Rainbow Bar & Grill first opened in 1972 as a restaurant for industry people and the Whisky A Go-Go has always been a venue where groups came to see groups play. When we opened the Rainbow, it was a natural hang out spot here on the strip. The fact that my parents have been in the restaurant business for most of my life and that my mother is an excellent cook are big parts of how it started. We have won awards because of the food from recipes by my mother.”
Mikael Maglieri spoke fondly of his father who was then a robust 89-years-old.
“My father’s been the backbone in this industry. He’s a legend himself. Every rock star, celebrity and big name in the industry highly regards him because he’s spent most of his career standing outside the door of the Rainbow, Whiskey A Go-Go and The Roxy forming those close relationships. It makes a difference.”
Named in tribute to the world’s first French discotheque, the Whisky A Go-Go is credited with bringing white-booted go-go girls to American hearts and minds. In 2006, the Whisky A Go-Go became the first live music venue to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In January, 2017, an unidentified buyer paid $48,300 for the 13-foot-long pink neon sign that graced the doorway of the Whisky A Go-Go in the 1980s and 1990s.
Four years after Elmer Valentine opened the Whisky A Go-Go at the corner of W. Sunset Blvd. and San Vincente, Mario Maglieri opened the Rainbow Bar & Grill a block away. One year later, Lou Adler opened the famed Roxy Theater next door to the Rainbow. Considering that the Sunset Strip is a mere one-and-a-half miles long, it’s easy to see why Maglieri, along with Adler and Valentine, will forever be known as the undisputed kings of the road between Clark and Hilldale.
[Featured Image by Mark Mainz/Getty Images]