Seeing Stars: Restaurants Owned by the Stars..
  

8852 Sunset Boulevard,
West Hollywood, CA. / (310) 358-1880



The Viper Room, a rock nightclub in West Hollywood, was already a hot spot with the young celebrity club crowd months before River Phoenix ("Stand By Me") died here of a drug overdose. The young actor's death made headlines when he collapsed on the sidewalk outside the purple awning of this Sunset Strip nightclub. That was on Halloween night of 1993.
Less than four months later, another incident at the Viper Room made the gossip columns, when TV star Nicole Eggert (who played 'Summer' on "Baywatch," and earlier played 'Jamie' on "Charles in Charge") got into a nasty fight here with another girl over a mutual boyfriend.

On Oct. 1, 1996, a paparazzo in the club snapped a photo of the Rolling Stone's Mick Jagger embracing actress Uma Thurman ("Pulp Fiction"). The photographer alleged that Mick's bodyguard wrestled him to the ground and club employees confiscated the valuable film and handed it to a member of the Stones' entourage, who destroyed the film. The photographer claimed the photo would have been worth $1 million, and sued both Jagger and the Viper Room. Mick settled out of court, but a jury later ruled against the club, and awarded $600,000 in damages to the photographer.

And in 1996, rocker Tommy Lee (of Mötley Crüe) was convicted of battery after he pushed over a photographer (Henry Trappler) who tried to videotape of he and wife Pamela Anderson Lee outside the Viper Room on Sept. 26, 1996.  Lee was fined and sentenced to a 24-month summary probation and 200 hours of community service. (In a later incident, in 1998, he was sentenced to six months in jail for kicking his wife.)

(These incidents at the Viper Room are but a few on a long list of Hollywood tragedies and scandals which have plagued the movie industry since its inception.)

But the club has survived the scandals. It was owned (in part) for years by none other than actor Johnny Depp, star of "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Sweeney Todd" and "Edward Scissorhands" - which may account for the club's celebrity following.

Inside, off the sidewalk, behind the club's windowless, black facade, you used to find a tiny, all-black room punctuated by green lights, populated by a young, casually-dressed crowd. There were just five black vinyl booths (and one of them was permanently reserved for Depp's agent and friend, with a bronze plaque warning "Don't f*** with it.") Just hitting its stride at midnight, the Viper Room features live music every night, ear-splitting decibels and light shows.

But the Viper Room temporarily shut its doors over New Years of 1999 for a makeover. It reopened with a concert by Courtney Love to show off the club's new, completely different Art Deco interior design. The room is no longer a black hole. Now, the formerly black walls are a creamy white, with cherrywood floors and a larger bar downstairs.

Attending the Courtney Love concert was Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Drew Barrymore, Rosanna Arquette and Jennifer Aniston.

Although most acts here are unlisted acts, big names have been known to drop in unannounced and jam on stage: Counting Crows, Oasis and the Wallflowers have dropped by recently.

Other stars may be in the audience.

The Pussycat Dolls event in May of 2001 had No Doubt's Gwen Stefani on stage and Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, and Alicia Silverstone in the crowd.

The night Johnny Cash played at the club, the audience included Sean Penn, Tom Petty, Juliette Lewis, Dwight Yokum, and Johnny Depp.  Mick Fleetwood ("Fleetwood Mac") has been spotted here several times.  Christina Applegate tended bar one night (and was there the night River Phoenix died). When Joan Osbourne played the club, Michael Keaton did the announcing. Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche were caught smoking in the club while watching a June 1998 performance of the band Live. Members of Counting Crows and Rage Against the Machine were also in the audience for that show. Tom Arnold met his wife, Julie, here.

In September of 1995, Bruce Springsteen dropped by for an impromtu concert.

In March of '99, the Stone Temple Pilots performed together for the first time in two years, to an audience that included Chris Rock and members of Marilyn Manson's band.

In July on '99, the Go-Go's staged a "secret" concert at the Viper Room.

Recently, Smashing Pumpkins' singer Billy Corgan did a solo concert here. John Mayer unexpectedly took the stage. Other acts that have performed here have included Matchbox 20, Oasis, Green Day, Billy Idol, Sheryl Crow, The Kult, The Knack, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Everclear, Run-D.M.C., Deus, The Black Crowes, Iggy Pop, and Lenny Kravitz. But often big name acts aren't even advertised, they just show up. Lines can get long outside, so if you wanna get in, show up when they open, at 9 p.m.

The L.A. Times called it "the most consistently hip club in town."

Johnny Depp's ownership of the club came to an end in 2004, when he signed it over the the daughter of his missing partner in the club, Anthony Fox. In 2008, the Viper Room was purchased by Harry Morton, son of Peter Morton who founded the Hard Rock Cafe.  Following in his father's footsteps, Harry (who has dated Lindsey Lohan) plans to open versions of the Viper Room in other major cities around the world.

Cover varies, so phone for info. No one under 21 allowed.

Getting there: The Viper Room is located at 8852 Sunset (just west of Spago), an address that has a long history mixing music with controversy. Back in the 1940's mobster Bugsy Siegel (*) used to hang out here when the place was called "The Melody Room." Two decades later, Jim Morrison and "The Doors" played here.



[For more information on this subject, you can access the Viper Room's official website at: http://www.viperroom.com.]




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