The Sunset Strip
Our Sunset Strip walking tour is broken up into two parts, both originating from the Alta Cienega Motel. There also are a few Sunset Blvd locations and a few locations in the surrounding area that require a car to get there. Those are included at the end of the second part.
Sunset Strip - Part One
From the Alta Cienega, exit out the car port and take a left and start walking up La Cienega. You are no doubt walking the exact same path that Jim walked hundreds of times. You will realize very quickly why Jim was in such good shape! Keep walking up the hill until you get to the top. This is where it all happened.. Sunset Blvd!
After you get to the top of the hill, take a left and start walking down the sidewalk. As you are walking by the first few buildings, think about what existed in their place in 1967. To your left is the site where the Sea Witch once stood.
The Sea Witch8516 Sunset Blvd
Although the Sea Witch is long gone, you can envision the lines of young people waiting in line on December 9th and 10th, 1966 to see the new local band.. The Doors! Click here to take a peek back in time and see this side of the strip as it was in 1967. You can see the Sea Witch at 1:54 of the footage. This is what the Sea Witch looked like in 1965, and then what it looks like today. It's a shame that so many of the venues of the '60s have been replaced by these types of buildings.
Regretably, the entire block of buidings which included the Sea Witch, Dino's Lodge and the Tiffany Theater was razed in 2013. Below is a photo mosaic of the block soon after the demolition illuminated by the morning sun. You can still see the Sea Witch railing in this photo.
The street level plaque in front of what was Dino's Lodge commemorating the filming location of 77 Sunset Strip is the only reminder of what once existed there, but it's future is unclear at this time. Visit while you can!
To read/see more about the Sea Witch, check out the Sea Witch Facebook page by clicking here
Keep walking down Sunset, past the outdoor cafes, businesses and past Holloway Drive. At that point you will see a sign for a bookstore called "Book Soup". Right past Book Soup is "Mystery Pier Books" rare books. Back in 1969, Mystery Pier was a theater called Cinemathique 16. This is where Jim Morrison and Robby Krieger played a short set of songs and Jim recited An American Prayer for a "Norman Mailer for President" rally. You can see by the below two photos that the storefront has changed over the last few years.
Cinemathique 168826 Sunset Boulevard
If the store is closed you can go into (and through) the "Book Soup" store and into the back Courtyard. That green building on the right is the old Cinematique 16.
If you're lucky and Mystery Pier is open, you can go in and see some very old, first edition and signed rare books. Something Jim would have loved! Now let's get back on Sunset and to the next venue.
As you walk down Sunset, you will pass Terner's Liquor. Back in the '60s, this was "Turner's Liquor" and was most likely a store that every band member of every band entered at one time or another.
Keep walking down Sunset Boulevard and across the street you will see the holy grail of Doors venues.. The Whisky A-Go-Go! Need I say more?
The Whisky A Go Go8901 Sunset Boulevard
Click here to see more vintage footage of the strip in 1967. You will see the Whisky right around the 34 second mark.
Here are some photos of the whisky as it looked back in the mid '60s.
Click here for a look inside the Whisky in 1964. Click here to see a local band "The Group" playing The Whisky in 66-67. If only they had dropped by on a night The Doors were performing!
While you're in LA, you definitely need to catch a show at the Whisky. You might be lucky enough to see one of the local Doors tribute bands. Or if you are REALLY, REALLY (did I mention REALLY) lucky, you could see Robby perform there as he did with Ray for the Doors' 40th anniversary.
The London Fog8919 Sunset Boulevard
This is where The Doors worked out their material for the first few albums before becoming the house band for the Whisky. According to Ray Manzarek, "Nobody ever came in the place...an occasional sailor or two on leave, a few drunks. All in all it was a very depressing experience, but it gave us time to really get the music together."
There is a rare piece of footage in the '60s film "Mondo Bizzaro", where you can see a shot of the London Fog while the Doors were the house band there. You can see a screenshot below plus a shot of what it looks like today.
Click here to go to the London Fog Facebook page.
For the next stop, take a look down Sunset. It's hard to miss our next stop.. the 9000 Building.
The 9000 Building9000 Sunset Boulevard
Back in the '60s and '70s, this was the location of many music, TV and PR firms. Back in the '90s and early 2000s it housed The Doors' offices.
The 9000 building also has a place in Doors history. Back in late '69, Jim went up on the roof and did his famous "tightrope walk" on the edge of the roof. This was filmed and included in his unreleased film, HWY. It is also on the roof of the 9000 building where they filmed Jim lip-synching "Light My Fire" for inclusion in the 1967 TV show "Malibu U".
Here are shots inside the old Doors offices of Danny Sugerman and Robby along with the incredible view out the window.
Right across the street from the 9000 building is a club called The Roxy. Robby Krieger has played the Roxy multiple times. Previous to that, it was a strip club called Largo.
Keep walking down Sunset and you will run into the Key Club. This was the former location of Gazarris.
Gazzarris9039 Sunset Boulevard
The Doors played Gazzarris multiple times from January through March of 1967. This was right after The Doors first album was released and more and more people were flocking to experience this "strange new trip" on the strip.
You're reached the far end of Sunset Blvd and it's time to make our way back to the Alta Cienega. Once you get there, rest up! "Part Two" of the Sunset tour is next!
Sunset Strip - Part Two
From the Alta Cienega, once again exit out the car port, take a left and walk up to Sunset Blvd. This time, take a right on Sunset and walk to Olive Drive. On your left you will see "The Comedy Store". Back in the '60s, this was called "Ciro's".
Ciro's8433 Sunset Boulevard
Although the Comedy Store has an incredible history of it's own since it opened in 1972, back in 1967 it was an equally famous venue called Ciro's. Doors played at Ciro's (at that time a temporary location of The Kaleidoscope) in April of 1967.
Right next door to the Comedy Store, you will see the Andaz West Hollywood Hyatt Hotel. This is hard to miss since they usually have a ten story advertisement on both sides of the building!
Continental Hyatt House8401 Sunset Boulevard
Back in 1967, this was call the Continental Hyatt House, nicknamed "Riot House". Jim stayed at the Hyatt on and off when he wasn't at the Alta Cienega, and is rumored to have been kicked out for hanging off his balcony by his fingertips.
Before leaving the area, you will want to drop into the House of Blues. When Ray and Robby started touring again in 2002, their first gig was a private show at the House of Blues broadcast live on the KLOS radio program "Jim Ladd's Living Room".
House of Blues8430 Sunset Boulevard
At this point we will take a detour to hit a spot off the Strip. Continue walking down Sunset until you come to Sweetzer Avenue. Take a right on Sweetzer and walk a few blocks (past Fountain Ave) until you get to Norton Avenue. Take a left on Norton and walk to 8214. This was an apartment shared by Jim and Pam. Jim and Pam actually lived in apartment 8216 1/2 which is in the back.
Jim and Pam's Norton Apartment8214 W. Norton Ave
Up until 2003, Doors fans were able to take a quick walk around the building and take a few snapshots. At that time the building was sold, the main driveway was gated off, and the building was marketed as "Jim Morrison's Last US Residence" to renters and fans. At that time the owners started charging $10 a person to tour the building and selling bags of dirt from the back yard. A few of the below photos were taken before the property was gated.
Now we will be going back to Sunset for the last two locations on the tour. Either from the Norton Ave Apts, or from Irvs, head east (away from Sweetzer) until you get to Havenhurst Drive and take a left (towards Sunset). Walk (and walk and walk) until you get back to Sunset Blvd. Right at the top of the hill are the final two destinations. The location of the Doors billboard and Chateau Marmont!
Once you get to the top of the hill, cross the street to the "Liquor Locker". The billboard between the Liquor Locker and "Bar Marmont" is the location of the original Doors billboard advertizing The Doors first Album.
Doors Billboard8171 Sunset Boulevard
If you look closely at the above 1967 photo, you can see Lytton Savings Bank in the background (today Chase Bank), and a piece of artwork called "The Family". The great news is, you can still see that today! No doubt the band members checked it out back in '67.
Chateau Marmont8221 Sunset Boulevard
That ends the walking portion of the Sunset Strip tour. There are a few more sites in this tour that require a short drive, so go get your car and let's go! The first is the Aquarius Theater.
Hullabaloo/Kaleidoscope/Aquarius Theater6230 W. Sunset Blvd
This building has definitely seen it's share of Hollywood excitement. It started out in 1938 as the Earl Carol Theater, then in 1953 became the night club, Moulin Rouge. In 1966, it became the Hullabaloo, a rock and roll venue. Click here for a news feature on the grand opening of the Hullabaloo. According to Greg Shaw's book "On The Road", The Doors played multiple after-hours shows at the Hullabaloo in 1966/67. In 1968 the Doors played this venue again when it was known as Kaleidoscope. After Kaleidoscope closed in late 1968, it became the Aquarius Theater. This is where the Doors' incredible 1969 performances occurred and later released through Bright Midnight Records. The building is currently owned and operated by Nickelodeon Studios. For the complete detailed history of this venue, click here.
Sunset Sound Recorders6650 Sunset Blvd
This is where The Doors recorded their first two albums, "The Doors" and "Strange Days". This is the location where, after a day of recording their first album, Jim returned later that night and hosed down all the band's equipment with a fire extinguisher. Click here to hear Bruce and Ray tell the story. Across the street from the recording studio is the church that Jim reportedly visited a few times between recording sessions.
Doors Walk of Fame star6801 Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood and Highland complex)
On February 28th, 2007, The Doors finally received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star itself (the 2,325th star added to the Walk of Fame) is near the front entrance of the Hard Rock Cafe. At the time of the dedication, the building housed the Virgin Megastore. Be sure to drop into the Hard Rock Cafe, as it contains some very cool Doors memorabilia.
Kodak Theatre6801 Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood and Highland complex)
The Kodak Theatre was the location of Ray and Robby's show on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2003. This show was recorded real-time by DiscLive with double CDs of the show available to fans as they left the theater.
That ends our Sunset Strip tour...
For those of you want even MORE history of Los Angeles and the Strip, join the "Vintage Los Angeles" Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Los-Angeles/121097987946929.
Pick another tour below to continue...