We broke some sad news last week: the Key Club will close its doors this Friday. Since opening in 1967 as Gazzarri's, it has been a staple of the Sunset Strip for decades, under various names and ownership. The venue has seen many popular styles of music come and go, but has, Zelig-like, been at the center of many. Here, then, are five of the most iconic shows in its history.
See also: Key Club to Close This Month
July 25th, 1998
After the glyph hysteria had died down, Prince got back in the swing of things and began putting out scores of unreleased music. This performance was particularly memorable; following structural damage from the earthquake and a change in ownership, the venue had only recently opened as the Key Club, and seemingly every celebrity in town came out, including Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Perry Farrell, and even Tony Curtis.
4. Mos Def
January 28th, 2010
The club again went through a rough patch in the late aughts, closing for a time before reopening with Mos Def's show in early 2010. Having released his critically slobbered-over work The Ecstatic the summer before, Mos helped make the venue a destination for hip-hop stars from across the spectrum.
3. Shark Island feat. Axl Rose and Tracii Guns
April 26th, 1986
Axl Rose and Tracii Guns played at Gazzarri's with local hard rockers Shark Island in 1986 before Guns N' Roses had released their first album, exhibiting much of the energy and showmanship that G N' R would become famous for. “Axl really liked the theatrics of [Shark Island frontman] Richard Black, so we went down to see them play,” Tracii Guns tells us now. “Next thing you know we were onstage jammin'…We were skinny kids then, good memories.” Check out their cover of Led Zeppelin's “Rock and Roll” above, and, uh, the hair.
2. Van Halen
At this Gazzarri's show, an early Van Halen played covers of tunes by Deep Purple, Edgar Winter, Joe Walsh, Bad Company and the Rolling Stones. As heard in bootlegs, this is said to be among the first (audible) recordings of the band. In a 1979 letter to the Los Angeles Times, Bill Gazzarri said David Lee Roth told him they'd auditioned at 19 nightclubs in the area and were turned down every time. Gazzarri offered them $75 a gig, they began playing there regularly, and quickly became a venue favorite.
1. The Doors
February 21st, 1967
In 1967, The Doors played opening night at Gazzarri's new location on Sunset Blvd. This show spurred a close relationship between the band and the haunt; they went on to play six nights a week there — somehow packing the dance floor. In a Los Angeles Times story the next week Francine Grace wrote: “Trying to avoid the 'hard, straight sound' of many rock groups, the Doors aim for 'dramatic impact' in their music. Gazzarri's crowded dance floor proves that the Doors' lyrical freedom hasn't hurt their strong rock 'n' roll dance tempo.”
See also: *Key Club to Close This Month