John Densmore on 'King of the Sunset Strip' Mario Maglieri's Passing: 'The Doors Loved Mario'

The Doors in 1966
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Doors photographed circa 1966.

The drummer says it was 'impossible not to.'

On Thursday (May 4), fans of Los Angeles' storied Sunset Strip were saddened to find out that Mario Maglieri, the "King of the Sunset Strip" and owner of the Whisky a Go Go and the Rainbow Room, had passed away at the age of 96. The impresario's death touched many, far beyond the City of Angels' borders.

The Whisky, which opened in 1964, was something of a ground zero for Los Angeles' burgeoning rock scene with generations of legendary acts playing there, including everyone from the Doors, the Byrds, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin to Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica and Guns N' Roses.

Perhaps no band is more associated with the Whisky than the the Doors, who were the storied club's house band in the summer of 1966, performing two sets a night and opening for such artists as Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Them, The Turtles and Johnny Rivers, among others.

The Doors' last set as the house band famously came after Morrison had reportedly dropped acid, missed the first performance and during the second one performed “The End” complete with the Oedipal rant for the first time. They were fired the next day.

51 years later, John Densmore, the Doors' drummer, wrote to Billboard with his fond recollections of Maglieri. "SOS was the code word Mario and I would use when he let me into the Whiskey," Densmore wrote. 'It was short for 'how ya doin'... same old shit, huh.'"  

The 72-year old Densmore noted his warmth and charisma, which apparently had its limits. "He was probably the warmest doorman/bouncer there ever was unless you were on his bad side. I saw him deck several deserving patrons."

Maglieri's relationship with the Doors, however, was something special, according to Densmore. "Like his partner Elmer Valentine, he LOVED musicians. Jim [Morrison] would come in, get drunk, jump on stage and ruin the set of whoever was playing and Mario still loved Jim. The Doors loved Mario. It was impossible not to. "


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