Mario Maglieri, Owner of Sunset Strip's Whisky A Go Go and Rainbow Room, Dead at 93

Mario Maglieri at Sunset Strip Music Festival opening night tribute event in Los Angeles on June 26, 2008.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Mario Maglieri at Sunset Strip Music Festival opening night tribute event in Los Angeles on June 26, 2008.

Known as the "King of the Sunset Strip," the venue owner had a profound impact on the Los Angeles music scene.

Mario Mikeal Maglieri, a Sunset Strip legend who owned and operated  two of Los Angeles' most iconic venues in The Whisky A Go Go and The Rainbow Bar and Grill passed away today at the age of 93. Known as the the "King of the Sunset Strip," the  venue owner had a profound impact on L.A.'s music scene.

A note posted on the Rainbow Room's Facebook Page read as follows:

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

The Whisky A Go Go, which opened in 1964, helped foster Los Angeles' burgeoning rock scene. Generations of legendary acts from The Doors, the Byrds, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin to Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica and Guns N' Roses all graced the Whiskey's corner stage.

The Doors, in fact, became the Whiskey's house band  opening for every group to play there from in the summer of 1966 while performing two sets per night. Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Them, The Turtles and Johnny Rivers were among the headliners they opened for. The Doors last set came after Morrison had reportedly dropped acid, missed the first set and during the second set performed “The End” complete with its Oedipal rant for the first time. They were fired the next day.

In 1972, Mario Maglieri, along with Whisky co-founder Elmer Valentine, Lou Adler and others, started the Rainbow Bar And Grill, which opened with a party for Elton John. Ever since, its been known for its high-profile musician clientele which included luminaries such as John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Grace Slick, Ringo Starr, Neil Diamond and especially Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead. Before his passing last year, he could regularly be found at the bar playing the venue's video card game. Last August a statue of Kilmister was erected in his honor at the Rainbow.

In 2007, with the inaugural launch of the now defunct Sunset Strip festival, Maglieri was honored for his contributions to The Strip.

In a 2014 Billboard article on the demise of The Strip, Maglieri was defiantly optimistic about the scene. "The old staples that are here, the solid ones aren't going anywhere," he said from a booth at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. "The Whisky is staying forever -- it's a family business. It's kept the strip alive and the Rainbow is an institution, we are breaking records and we've been here 43 years now."

Maglieri is survived by his wife, Scarlett, his son Mikeal and grandchildren Mikeal, Cheryl and Gina. A public memorial will be held at the The Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunday, May 28, at 1:00 PM.


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