Elmer Valentine, the Los Angeles impresario who opened the Whisky, The Roxy and the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip, died in his sleep at his home in L.A. on Dec. 3. He was 85.
Sunset Strip nightclubs dimmed their lights Dec. 5 in memory of him. “It’s somehow fitting that the man who turned the Sunset Strip lights on would be honored by the lights of those venues that followed his imprint turning theirs off in a tribute to him,” said Lou Adler, who along with Valentine founded The Roxy in 1973.
Born in Chicago, Valentine left school and hit the streets at the age of 11, later joining the Air Force and serving in WWII in England. Upon returning to Chicago, he joined the police force and rose to the position of detective.
In 1960, Valentine moved to Los Angeles to open his first nightclub, PJ’s. Much of the club’s success was due to Valentine’s booking the then-unknown singer/musician named Trini Lopez. Lopez recorded a live album at the club, Trini Lopez at PJ’s, which became a number one hit.
After selling his interest in PJ’s, Valentine decided to travel the world. During a trip Paris in 1963, he visited a club called A Go-Go, which featured dancers in a cage above the bandstand. Returning to L.A. in 1964, he and his partners opened the Whisky A Go-Go.
Artists who performed at the Whisky included Johnny Rivers, The Doors, Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention and Sonny and Cher.
He later opened the Rainbow Bar & Grill with partners Lou Adler and Mario Maglieri, and the Roxy Theater with Adler.
He is survived by a daughter and a grandson.