A couple of weeks ago, I found myself seated in the famous red leatherette “Slash booth” at The Rainbow Bar & Grill in the heart of Hollywood with Daniel Zafran and Greg Gonzalez, the congenial hosts of one of the top-rated podcasts about Los Angeles, L.A. Meekly.
The first time I parked it there, in 1983, it was just a booth. The world at large wouldn’t know the name Slash until 1987 when the first Guns N’ Roses album, Appetite for Destruction, was unleashed. (Also, in 1983, Daniel and Greg weren’t even born.)
The Sunset Strip hotspot was opened on April 16, 1972 by owners Elmer Valentine, Lou Adler, Mario Maglieri, kicking off with a party for ivory-tickler Elton John. Though you might be making a gay connection with the venue’s name and the artist, FYI: At the time, the word “rainbow” signified only peace and freedom. (The original pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.)
I was on the L.A. Meekly Podcast to discuss my new book, “So L.A. – A Hollywood Memoir” as well as the history of The Rainbow, which is truly a legend of the Sunset Strip. Since I misspent a lot of my youth there, complete with fake I.D. and a lust for rock stars, it was the perfect place to rock down memory lane *and* don my “Hollywood historian” hat.
The guys referred to my I.D. shot as "ghostly" -- I think it's The Dorian Gray of fake I.D.'s!
In addition to the “Slash booth” The Rainbow is also home to the renowned bronze memorial statue of Ian Fraser Kilmister (24 December 1945 – 28 December 2015), better known as Lemmy, the frontman of the heavy metal band Motörhead.
Here is a photo of us after our interview, taken by the lovely Nicole Sixx. (I never groped Lemmy’s thigh in real life, so I figured this was my chance.)
One of the things I love about The Rainbow is its never-changing ambiance. Even though it’s 2017, you can walk inside and be transported back to its 1970s and 80s hey-day. You can practically picture the apparitions of young Jimmy Page, super-groupie Pamela Des Barres, David Bowie, The Runaways, Keith Moon, John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Hal Stone, and so many more, all drinking and carousing here.
There have been songs inspired by The Rainbow, record deals struck, and the flash-in-the-pan Richie Blackmore band, Rainbow, took its name from these wood-paneled walls. There are so many great stories!
Listen to them here on the L.A. Meekly Podcast
And read even more stories about The Rainbow in my bestselling book, “So L.A. – A Hollywood Memoir.”