Sunset Stripâ€™sÂ legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill is not only one of the boulevardâ€™s most veneratedÂ venues over the past five decades, it is also one of rockâ€™s greatest and most historic restaurants!Â As a fine dining launching pad for heavy metal and rock gods such as Guns Nâ€™ Roses, Warren Zevon, and Motley Crue, as well as for music industry veterans and legions of rockers all across America whoâ€™ve sold at least part of their soul to Rock and Roll, there is no finer place to reminisce rockâ€™s arguably grandeur years in the 1970s and 1980s, and the start of oneâ€™s own mission of the night!
Most every titanic rock group, such asÂ Led Zeppelin,Â The Who, andÂ The Rolling StonesÂ (evenÂ James BrownÂ was a regular), Â hasÂ frequented this most festive shrine of rock and metal music. Â All revel with hearty food and drink, where the gathering of metal mining minds and friends can feast together.Â Indeed many hit songs such asÂ Guns Nâ€™ Rosesâ€™ â€œAppetite for Destructionâ€ was written here along with countless record deals brokered on its patented red-lit tables and plush leather.Â Â One canâ€™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.Â Admittedly, I on occasion look for the rather hidden pictures of friends and me that Iâ€™ve dined with over the past 25 years with power ballad pride.
On the day of Rainbow’s 41stÂ Anniversary, Revel Life experienced the venueâ€™s leading non-stop rock and roll express on The Strip.Â Â 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.Â 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.
Michael Blum with Stone Breed lead singer Â Carlos Bates Cruz
From the steamy rock of Stone Breed, guitar flare of AHMED, soulful duet of LA Gunsâ€™ Phil Lewis andÂ Michael Angelo BatioÂ 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.
LA Guns, L-Phil Lewis
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.Â To state that these men are a Sunset Boulevard institution is more than an understatement.Â 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.Â John Belushi ate his final meal here on that fateful evening in 1981.Â Even the heralded rock band â€œRainbowâ€ took its name from this restaurant.Â The George Clooney produced â€œRockstarâ€ was shot here in 2001, and countless seminalÂ MTVÂ videos have used the colorful backdrop to imbue its viewers with a flavor of metal mostÂ of usÂ have come to love â€“ whether we admit it or not!
True to form, the perennial celebration this yearÂ 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.Â 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.Â Of course, when Faster Pussycat soared on stage, a few Old School Rockers just had toÂ hoistÂ their girl up on their shoulders pressing forward into the thunderous moments asÂ Sunset StripÂ reveledÂ in the background.
Faster Pussycat energized the crowd with its power ballad rock, incredible acrobatic guitar solos on â€œCathouseâ€, â€œNonstop to Nowhereâ€œ, â€œBathroom Wallâ€, and â€œNumber 1 With a Bulletâ€œ.
I asked Mario how long this would go on and he said â€œtill the strip has a pulse and nothing else â€“ or when they take my cigars awayâ€œ. Tony, who has easily seated more rock legends for dinner than anyone in history, and once literally saved Keith Moon of The Whoâ€™s life, further cemented the non-stop journey of arguable rockâ€™s original restaurant shrine by mentioning â€œwe just keep the service solid, real and what people want â€“ not yet can anybody beat thatâ€œ.
All of this, much to the laughter of the crew, with Jim Morrison vocals of The Doorsâ€™ â€œ20thÂ Century Foxâ€ lighting up smiles as we smell and hear bikers burning rubber up towards Doheny Blvd.
Michael Blum with Manager Mike Weber
The massiveÂ The DoorsÂ commemorative 45thÂ Anniversary still hovering atop the Rainbow marquee from last summerâ€™sÂ Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF)Â induction also rings true to the staying power of this unashamed establishment.Â On that note, theÂ RainbowÂ among many of the clubs onÂ West Sunset Blvd.Â had showed its respect for the legendaryÂ Ray ManzarekÂ and co-founder ofÂ The DoorsÂ who sadly recently passed at age 74 on May 21st.Â Â Â The DoorsÂ and Rayâ€™s distinguished iconic sound,Â soul and spiritÂ will always be associated withÂ Sunset Blvd.,Â TheÂ Whiskey -Â and oneÂ particularÂ landmark performanceÂ thereÂ on May 23, 1966.
AfterÂ Faster PussycatÂ nailed a most memorable set, some obviously well known rocker from the 1980s came over and said â€œwe rock rock here drop, rock rock we never stop!â€Â Toasts ignited all around. Â Indeed, this party didnâ€™t stop all day, and progressed well into the evening as it always does at the Rainbow for thisÂ perennial night of Dionysus.
Looking back, I walked away feeling as electric as the acrobatic guitar licks ofÂ Ace Von Johnsonâ€˜s velvet hammer, as the purity of this tribute concert forÂ RainbowÂ once again brought me back to the time when it was the song ran the music,Â andÂ one’s mojo that ensued from the power chords were all that mattered. Â Even though the music world has radically changed over the pastÂ fewÂ decades, from distribution to the way concert venues are run, at least this particularÂ ‘RainbowÂ coalition’Â is cemented in its festive roots that show no end in sight!
(Photography By Rudy Garcia)
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