The rise and fall of Hollywood’s legendary punk rock speakeasy, the Zero Zero Club

By Greg Renoff

At the dawn of Reagan’s America, Hollywood’s underground community of punk musicians, struggling artists, and scene-makers lived for the night. Their mornings, accordingly, began in the afternoon. In the evenings, they’d gather at nightclubs like the Starwood and the Whisky a Go Go to catch performances by punk, new wave, and psychobilly bands. But when 2 a.m. hit, city ordinances required that these establishments turn on their lights, turn out their patrons, and lock their doors.

This abrupt end to the night sucked for everyone on the scene, but especially for the working musicians who’d barely had…

How punk and new wave resurrected Hollywood’s legendary Whisky a Go Go in the 1970s

By Greg Renoff

In early 1975, Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go was on the rocks. The famed Sunset Strip nightclub, which during its late 60s and early 70s peak had played host to acts ranging from The Byrds and The Doors to Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys, faced serious financial problems. Record labels, which had used the Whisky as a key platform for promoting their rising rock acts, now turned their attention to securing warm-up slots for their new artists on arena and stadium tours. …

In 1979 David Lee Roth met Helmut Newton, inciting an ego-fueled power struggle that ultimately split the group apart

Van Halen’s star was on the rise in late 1979. Vocalist David Lee Roth, bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and drummer Alex Van Halen had sent sold out crowds into delirium on their wildly successful 1978 and 1979 world tours. They had two platinum albums under their belts, and their latest, Van Halen II, had even cracked the Billboard Top Ten. These were significant achievements for a hard rock band at time when disco and new wave dominated the nation’s airwaves.

These triumphs aside, intra-band tensions (which Roth later conceded were “always” present) mounted as the quartet and…

Greg Renoff

Author, PhD historian. Van Halen Rising, my deeply researched bio of VH's rise to fame, out now via @ecwpress. Diehard #NYJets fan since 81.

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