How Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go Was Saved by Punk Rock and New Wave
Greg Renoff

Where do I start? First, yes, I always said punk brought the Whisky back to life. No argument there. But the stories and photos veer off to include Van Halen (the better to promote the author’s book), Johnny Cougar and Tom Petty. Because?

It’s a story about punk. Yes, other bands played there. But it’s a story about punk and the fact WE LA Punks brought the Whisky back to life. And created a scene with lasting impact.

Why exclude vital LA Bands? LA PUNKS built and kept the scene alive. Not just the Whisky. The many fanzines and flyers. We promoted and publicized and produced our own shows and good times at the Whisky. No mention.

The photos of the punk fans with swastikas on their faces: England. I went out nearly every night and many days, photographing parties, backstage, on the street and shows. Starting August 1976 and ending nearly 4 years later. I was at the Whisky quite often during 1977 and took photos to prove it.

I never saw anyone with a swastika on their face in LA or San Francisco. The clothes, the makeup in those images: all England. (If you wanted any photos of REAL punks during 1977, I would have gladly provided some.)

“bulk of Hollywood’s young rock fans had embraced the scene.” Wow, gosh, no. There were only a few hundred fans, whereas, big places like Anaheim Stadium sold 60,000 tickets to a gig. Punk was still underground and small, even by end of 1977. Of course it depends what you mean by “Hollywood’s young rock fans.” People who live in Hollywood, perform in Hollywood or come to Hollywood? But no, we were not embraced by everyone by any means.

Next, anyone who actually believes what Kim Fowley said might want to run it by a lot of other sources. Kim was the master of hyperbole, distortion and hype. I know that’s redundant, but he talked a big talk.

Talking about punk, and you include a photo of Johnny Cougar? Really? Yes, I was there, photographing him and the Jam.

No mention of LA bands who REALLY brought the Whisky back to life, beyond the Germs? Screamers? X? My gosh, whom did I photograph at the Whisky? Van Halen and their opening band, the Mumps, May 1977.

Ramones, Blondie, Dictators, Talking Heads, Mink de Ville, from New York. Nuns from San Francisco. I’m leaving tons off, cos this is from the top of my head. But photos of Tom Petty (whom I shot when Blondie played with he and the Heartbreakers, and other times) and already mentioned Cougar?

That’s somehow related to the Whisky and punk? I’ve stated many times the Whisky was my “home away from home.” I’ve tons of stories, onstage and backstage photos, but well, didn’t reach out to me? I’m so easily accessible (site and Facebook. People from all over the world contact me all the time). To get some more authentic early Whisky punk photos.

Wassup with no photo credits? Gee, I like knowing who took what.

Finally, huge THANK YOU for so kindly including me, with a quote. Gotta love you for “Photographer Jenny Lens, whose work vividly documented the LA scene.” I would have gladly provide photos for some of the real LA Bands AND performers who helped bring the Whisky back to life. A very special place and time. I fondly remember it well.

You can see photos and read stories on and see over 170 large photos on See the photos and read the stories. I covered a lot more in my now out of print book, Punk Pioneers.

I made SURE I included many punk bands at the Whisky in 1977 thru 1980. Lots of amazing memories. Hard to convey, even with photos and stories, no matter who tells it. I always say punk is like the 6 blind men and the elephant. You had to be there cos something gets lost in translation.

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