Jan 22, 2017
A bright neon piece of rock 'n' roll memorabilia is going up for auction: a sign that adorned the legendary Los Angeles club Whisky a Go Go
BIDDEFORD, Maine — A bright neon piece of rock 'n' roll history is going up for auction — a marquee from the legendary Los Angeles club, Whisky a Go Go.
The 13-foot sign, with letters alight in bright pink, adorned the West Hollywood club in the '80s and '90s, during the heyday of punk, new wave and grunge.
Saco River Auction Co. is putting it up for bid Wednesday.
"Being a guy who likes rock and heavy metal and music in general, this is like the holy grail of something that's collectible," said auctioneer Troy Thibodeau.
Over the years, the Sunset Strip club featured acts including Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Frank Zappa and the Ramones.
The weathered marquee says simply, "The Whisky." It was replaced in 2004 with a new sign — "Whisky a Go Go" — that restored the full name used when the club opened in 1964.
The marquee sold for nearly $35,000 in 2012 and was supposed to be used in a "man cave" in a home in Maine, Thibodeau said. Instead, it ended up collecting dust in a storage unit and wound up in Thibodeau's possession because the owner was delinquent on payments.
Thibodeau said he thinks the sign could fetch somewhere between $25,000 and $60,000.
The Whisky a Go Go got its start with dancing, as the name suggests, but live music quickly became a staple. The Doors were a house band in the late 1960s, and other acts including the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield helped to cement the club's reputation, said Todd Mesek, from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"It got this reputation as this great place for the hottest new bands, with a lot of street cred, and for being the place to be for new music," he said.
The club with a capacity for 500 people faded a bit in the 1970s as big rock 'n' roll bands played larger venues, like arenas and stadiums, before getting a second wind during the punk era in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the Ramones, the Runaways and Blondie, Mesek said.
Then came the big metal bands of the 1980s, including Van Halen, Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses. In the 1990s, grunge bands like Soundgarden and the Melvins played there.
The venue was recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Follow David Sharp on Twitter at https://twitter.com/David_Sharp_AP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-sharp.