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Arts and Entertainment

'King Of The Sunset Strip' Who Owned Whisky A Go Go, Rainbow Bar And Grill, Dies at 93

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Mario Maglieri, who owned the Whisky a Go Go and the Rainbow Bar & Grill, died on Thursday at the age of 93, reports the L.A. Times.

His passing was announced on the Rainbow's Facebook page:

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.
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Thank you for your understanding. The Rainbow & Whisky Family

Maglieri moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1964 to help manage the Whisky with friend Elmer Valentine. In 1972, they opened the Rainbow. Through his businesses he'd witness all that rock royalty had to offer, from the golden age of the 70s to the glam rock excess of the 80s. Maglieri told the Times in 1993 that Led Zeppelin were among the earliest regulars at the Rainbow, and that he'd had to toss out Guns N' Roses on more than one occasion. “Oh, Guns N' Roses! I had to put them out I don't know how many times! They'd get rowdy and throw bread at people. They're good guys, but they get out of hand," said Maglieri.

Rolling Stone cited a fairly insane story about the Rainbow that Slash recounted in an autobiography. In the tale, Slash said that he and (former band member) Steven Adler would hit up the Rainbow on the regular with fake I.D.s when they were underaged (and before the band was even formed). One night, Slash was kicked out because it was ladies night, but he soon formed a plan to return—he was going to come back as a woman. "My mom thought my plan was hilarious," wrote Slash. "She outfitted me with a skirt and fishnets, piled my hair up under a black beret, and did my makeup...I looked like a Rainbow chick."

As noted by LA Weekly, the Rainbow was also a preferred hangout of David Bowie, John Lennon, and The Rolling Stones. The late Lemmy Kilmister, who was a regular, has his very own statue in the bar. As for the Whisky, the venue had hosted The Doors and Janis Joplin, as well as the L.A. punk scene with appearances by X and The Germs.

Certainly, Maglieri got a personal glimpse of the Strip's destructive side. According to the Times, he'd bought Joplin a bottle of Southern Comfort three days before her overdose death, and he'd once lectured Jim Morrison about his drug abuse. Despite his proximity to the wide array of vices, Maglieri said that he himself wasn't interested in any of it. "I'm 70 years old and I've never smoked a joint in my life," Maglieri told the Times in '93. "People ask me and I tell them, 'Dope is for dopes.' People want to fight me on that, I'll fight them. I've seen too many lives destroyed by drugs." (A 23-year-old River Phoenix died outside the Viper Room, just down the strip from the Rainbow Room, a couple weeks before the interview.)

Despite getting the boot from Maglieri on occasion, Guns N' Roses still hold him in high regard; guitarist Slash posted a picture of Maglieri on Instagram early Friday, with a caption reading, "...he kept RnR alive in Hwd. We will never forget you. RIP." Also, former Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum posted this picture of the marquee outside of the Whisky, which dubbed Maglieri as the "King of the Sunset Strip":

Sebastian Bach, former frontman of Skid Row, along with former Headbangers Ball VJ Riki Rachtman, paid their respects on Twitter as well:

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According to LA Weekly, both the Whisky and the Rainbow are currently owned by Maglieri's son, Mikael.