Long after the Doors and the Byrds played the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, the venue replaced its weathered marquee with a pink-lit neon sign that read, simply, “The Whisky.”
That was 1981, the dawn of a decade that would bring rockers such as Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue through the club on their way to stardom.
But just as the fast life took its toll on the artists, the second Whisky sign was decommissioned in 2004. It was auctioned off late last month by New York memorabilia specialist Gotta Have It Collectibles Inc. The new owners paid about $35,000.
“We were ecstatic to get it,” said Pete Siegel, a Gotta Have It partner.
The company received a 20 percent commission on the sale.
Erik Quisling, who produced a documentary about night spots on the Sunset Strip and wrote a book about the Whisky, had bought it from the owners eight years ago. He found the sign sitting out by the trash and he offered the owner $4,000.
“It stood through the height of the hair-metal scene,” Quisling said.
Quisling, who now lives in Northern California, kept it in storage and recently asked Siegel to sell it. Other items on the company’s auction block last month included Jim Morrison’s signed Florida bail bond and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” costume.
Siegel wouldn’t identify the winning bidder for the 14-foot-long neon sign but said other interested parties included a rock star and a large institution. The new owners have visited the club and will use the Whisky sign for a barroom they’re building in their new home in New England.
The venue now greets today’s rockers with a marquee displaying the club’s original name, the “a Go Go” reinstated in its signature font.
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