7 Rock Legends From The 1980s That Got Their Start At The Whisky A Go-Go

The Whisky A Go-Go started out as a dance club in the fifties featuring caged Go-Go dancers and over the decades became one of the most iconic clubs on the Sunset Strip. In the sixties, house bands like the Doors graduated to international fame because of the exposure they got from playing the Whisky. The 70s saw a thriving punk scene play there as well and while the Whisky fell on hard times financially in the 80s, the club still managed to feature some of the decade’s most iconic acts while they were still in their infancy. The venue also launched the careers of rock n’ roll legends whose music reflected the more gritty realities of sex, excess, and drug culture that the decade had to offer.

In cooperation with ABC’s new show Wicked City, a TV crime drama that takes place on the Sunset Strip during the early 1980s, here are seven rock acts that blew up after playing the Whisky and helped define music and pop culture for an entire generation. Catch the Wicked City premiere on Tuesday, OCT 27 10|9c and be transported back to the glory days of the Sunset Strip, when anything could happen and anyone could dream of making it big.


ABC 'Wicked City'
ABC ‘Wicked City’

1. Warrant

While “Cherry Pie” wasn’t released until the early 1990s, Warrant got its start in the mid-80s, promoting themselves in the raunchiest ways they could think of to cut through the noise and attract an audience. Their ties to the Whisky were so strong that in May of this year for a concert cause they consider it the spot where their careers really began.

2. The Bangles

The Bangles not only got their start at the Whisky but wouldn’t have ever formed without it. The band’s founder, Susanna Hoffs, has said she’d grown up dreaming of playing at the Whisky and later formed the Bangles after posting a flyer at the club. The all-female group performed there for the first time shortly after.

3. Motley Crue

Known for being one of the most outrageous bands of the 80s, Motley Crue’s members actually lived just around the corner from the Whisky in a roach infested apartment when they were coming up and the club served as a launching pad for their later success.

4. The Go-Go’s

The Go-Go’s started playing the Whisky in 1979 but it wasn’t until their debut album dropped in 1981 that they took off like a rocket. Blending pop and punk with wildly catchy melodies, the all girl band’s first album eventually went triple platinum and their hit singles are tunes that people can hum along to even in 2015.

5. Nina Hagen

Exhibiting all the stylistic excesses the 80’s rock scene had to offer, it wasn’t until East German import Nina Hagen hit the American scene and played the Whisky in 1980 that her career started to take off. Hits like “New York, New York,” while seemingly bizarre today, were very much pushing the limits of rock n’ roll experimentation. It was a time of genre blending and Hagen’s mix of disco, rock, and punk fit the bill.

6. Metallica

Originally forming in L.A., Metallica finally gelled at the Whisky in 1982 when bassist Cliff Burton was recruited into the band. Prior to leaving L.A. for San Francisco, Metallica was an opener for bands at the Whisky, honing their hard metal sound into a sharp edge there.

7. Ratt

Ratt was playing parties, L.A. dive bars, and giving away recordings of their music prior to playing at the Whisky. After the newfound exposure their first album “Out of the Cellar” eventually went triple platinum and was ranked number seven in 1984. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Click To Explore More From The Dark Side Of The Sunset Strip

This post is brought to you by ABC’s Wicked City. Don’t miss the Series Premiere – Tuesday, October 27th at 10/9c.



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Daniel Hayes

Ask me anything as long as it’s safe for all ages and just fantastically interesting.