Revel Life's interest in exploring the Rock scene was initially driven by the fashion world's current obsession with looks inspired by this iconic music genre. From a curiosity in Hard Rock aesthetics to an appreciation of its sound and culture, Revel Life has made some interesting discoveries.
Faster Pussycat‘s performance
Rainbow owner Mario Maglieri and wife
By Michael Blum
Sunset Strip’s legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill is not only one of the boulevard’s most venerated venues over the past five decades, it is also one of rock’s greatest and most historic restaurants! As a fine dining launching pad for heavy metal and rock gods such as Guns N’ Roses, Warren Zevon, and Motley Crue, as well as for music industry veterans and legions of rockers all across America who’ve sold at least part of their soul to Rock and Roll, there is no finer place to reminisce rock’s arguably grandeur years in the 1970s and 1980s, and the start of one’s own mission of the night!
Most every titanic rock group, such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Rolling Stones (even James Brown was a regular), has frequented this most festive shrine of rock and metal music. All revel with hearty food and drink, where the gathering of metal mining minds and friends can feast together. Indeed many hit songs such as Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction” was written here along with countless record deals brokered on its patented red-lit tables and plush leather. One can’t help but be lured by the maze of party photos of patrons that plaster the walls everywhere along the with iconic music collectibles and shots of rock lore take center stage each night. Admittedly, I on occasion look for the rather hidden pictures of friends and me that I’ve dined with over the past 25 years with power ballad pride.
In fact, Hard Rock Café founder Isaac Tigrett is said to have famously ‘borrowed’ from the Rainbow in the early 1970s the concept of having rock legends’ instrumentation, imagery and fanfare scouring the place. For those who have not frequented the Rainbow, all three floors of rock mayhem are a true rite of passage into the lore of heavy metal, classic rock or glam rock apprenticeship – whatever your fancy.
On the day of Rainbow’s 41st Anniversary, Revel Life experienced the venue’s leading non-stop rock and roll express on The Strip. Throughout the sunny Sunday afternoon, thousands of metal, biker and rock enthusiasts flocked together and celebrated the years of the Rainbow Bar & Grill in full fervor. Consistent with the progression of music volume in the restaurant during a typical evening in the Rainbow Room, the bands outside just got stronger as we ventured into the evening.
From the steamy rock of Stone Breed, guitar flare of AHMED, soulful duet of LA Guns’ Phil Lewis and Michael Angelo Batio and power headliner Faster Pussycat, all eight acts shined playing their best to give heartfelt homage to owner Mario Maglieri, and loyal long-time managers Tony Vescio and Mike Weber, who, together, for over 40 years have led the Rainbow by giving their all to rock and the local West Hollywood community.
Incredibly, this Italian triumvirate coming from Chicago has owned and single handedly managed the Rainbow and its gregarious staff since its inception in April 1972. To state that these men are a Sunset Boulevard institution is more than an understatement. The Old School style of grace and genuine greetings these jovial men have instilled into Sunset Blvd. is aptly unique and keeps this writer, like the thousands who showed up that day, a true lifetime patron.
Historically, Elton John kicked things off at the Rainbow on April 16, 1972. John Belushi ate his final meal here on that fateful evening in 1981. Even the heralded rock band “Rainbow” took its name from this restaurant. The George Clooney produced “Rockstar” was shot here in 2001, and countless seminal MTV videos have used the colorful backdrop to imbue its viewers with a flavor of metal most of us have come to love – whether we admit it or not!
True to form, the perennial celebration this year had its own concoction of Jack Daniels Girls, great well drink specials, biker gang members (who were on good behavior or else), minted Faster Pussycat lingerie for sale, and, as always, hundreds of free Rainbow Anniversary t-shirts for all. This real sense of community emanated to all of those grooving in the back lot where the stage cranked out pure 3-digit decibel levels with the legendary Roxy venue feeling the heat next door. Of course, when Faster Pussycat soared on stage, a few Old School Rockers just had to hoist their girl up on their shoulders pressing forward into the thunderous moments as Sunset Strip reveled in the background.
Faster Pussycat energized the crowd with its power ballad rock, incredible acrobatic guitar solos on “Cathouse”, “Nonstop to Nowhere“, “Bathroom Wall”, and “Number 1 With a Bullet“.
Of course, the sultry dancing damsels in appropriate risqué costume are rock’s original Pussycats, and strutted in sync with the band throughout to let the crowd know it. Original lead singer Taime Downe sang better than ever with the climatic “Nonstop to Nowhere“. The heartfelt tribute to the Rainbow and Mario, Tony, Mike, as well as that of 2013 Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lou Adler, and all of those kindred spirits who passed to the ‘other side of the Rainbow’, was complete. And the relentless lead guitar licks of Ace Von Johnson and Xristian Simon just simply never let up, as the crowd intensity continued to build throughout the power packed hour set.
I asked Mario how long this would go on and he said “till the strip has a pulse and nothing else – or when they take my cigars away“. Tony, who has easily seated more rock legends for dinner than anyone in history, and once literally saved Keith Moon of The Who’s life, further cemented the non-stop journey of arguable rock’s original restaurant shrine by mentioning “we just keep the service solid, real and what people want – not yet can anybody beat that“.
All of this, much to the laughter of the crew, with Jim Morrison vocals of The Doors’ “20th Century Fox” lighting up smiles as we smell and hear bikers burning rubber up towards Doheny Blvd.
The massive The Doors commemorative 45th Anniversary still hovering atop the Rainbow marquee from last summer’s Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF) induction also rings true to the staying power of this unashamed establishment. On that note, the Rainbow among many of the clubs on West Sunset Blvd. had showed its respect for the legendary Ray Manzarek and co-founder of The Doors who sadly recently passed at age 74 on May 21st. The Doors and Ray’s distinguished iconic sound, soul and spirit will always be associated with Sunset Blvd., The Whiskey - and one particular landmark performance there on May 23, 1966.
After Faster Pussycat nailed a most memorable set, some obviously well known rocker from the 1980s came over and said “we rock rock here drop, rock rock we never stop!” Toasts ignited all around. Indeed, this party didn’t stop all day, and progressed well into the evening as it always does at the Rainbow for this perennial night of Dionysus.
Looking back, I walked away feeling as electric as the acrobatic guitar licks of Ace Von Johnson‘s velvet hammer, as the purity of this tribute concert for Rainbow once again brought me back to the time when it was the song ran the music, and one’s mojo that ensued from the power chords were all that mattered. Even though the music world has radically changed over the past few decades, from distribution to the way concert venues are run, at least this particular ‘Rainbow coalition’