Straight Whisky

Erik Quisling, Author, Austin Williams, Joint Author, Henry Rollins, Foreword by Bonus Books $22.95 (427p) ISBN 978-1-56625-197-6
With varying degrees of success, Quisling and Williams reconstruct 40 years of hip-shaking, headbanging, altered consciousness and groupie-love at Sunset Strip nightclubs Whisky A Go-Go and its sister establishments the Roxy Theatre and the Rainbow Bar and Grill, in an attempt to bring to life the L.A. music scene since 1964. Focusing on 16 random events meant to emblemize the Whiskey ambiance and demonstrate its cultural impact, the authors chronicle the club from its early Tinsletown days to the Black Flag riots during the punk movement to a more current era of""unknown die-hard Sunset Strip devotees."" The list of acts that have graced the stage of Whisky is a veritable who's who of rock, and while the authors do well to avoid a simple listing of these acts, the stories they focus on aren't always compelling. Tales of Jim Morrison passed out back stage or Roger Daltrey's sexual exploits fail to bring the Whisky to life. Quisling and Williams also choose an awkward, unintegrated format for the book, with the first part of each chapter (by Williams) a vivid, occasionally overwritten anecdote (does he really know what Robert Plant thought as he felt up two sisters under a table?), followed by a separate cultural and historical outline of the era (by Quisling). Williams recounts the time Charles Manson dropped by the Whisky just days before the mass killings at Benedict Canyon, harassed a waitress and was thrown out by the owner, Mario Maglieri. It's a compelling story, but following it with a separate, brief history of Helter Skelter, the authors clumsily connect the Whisky to the world outside the club doors. Central to rock 'n' roll history, the Whisky was a place of raw, untethered emotion, debauchery and mayhem. Quisling and Williams are certainly passionate about their subject, and their energy goes a long way toward making the book readable, but they don't fully capture its heart and soul. As Henry Rollins claims in his surprisingly bland foreword, the Whisky""is worth some real documentation."" Unfortunately, this isn't quite it.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Paperback - 250 pages - 978-1-56625-232-4
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