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Mario Maglieri, ‘King of the Sunset Strip,’ Dies

Mark Mainz, Getty Images
Mark Mainz, Getty Images

Mario Maglieri, who owned three famous clubs on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, the Rainbow Bar & Grill, the Roxy Theatre and the Whisky a Go Go, has died. He was 93.

The Whisky posted the news on its Facebook page, with a picture of the club’s marquee announcing his death and writing, “It’s a sad day for Rock n’ Roll… Rest in peace Mario Maglieri! You will always be the King of the Sunset Strip!!!”

According to a news release we received, Maglieri was born Feb. 7, 1924 in Seppino, Italy and moved to the U.S. when he was four. He was running restaurants and clubs in Chicago but eventually moved to Los Angeles. LA Weekly says that, by 1966, he was managing the Whisky, which was co-owned by Elmer Valentine.

Six years later, Maglieri, Valentine and music business impresario Lou Adler bought the Villa Nova restaurant and renamed it the Rainbow Bar & Grill in honor of Judy Garland. Perhaps not by coincidence, Garland had been married to Vincente Minelli, who had once owned the Villa Nova. The Roxy followed in 1973.

All three clubs became synonymous with the rock culture of Los Angeles, from the folk-rock and psychedelic days of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Doors — who were its house band for a spell — to the punk and metal scenes of the ’70s and ’80s. Several songs on Bruce Springsteen‘s Live 1975-85 box set and the entirety of Warren Zevon‘s Stand in the Fire were recorded at the Roxy. The Rainbow also gained fame as the preferred hangout of Motorhead frontman Lemmy. In 2016, a statue of Lemmy was erected in the Rainbow in his memory.

A public memorial will be held at the the Rainbow on Sunday, May 28 at 1PM Pacific.

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