Walking The Sunset Strip, A Fading Beacon Of Cool

The Whisky a Go Go club on the storied Sunset Strip, once the hub L.A.'s music scene, acknowledged the May 2013 death of The Doors' keyboardist on its marquee: "Rest In Peace Ray Manzarek, Thanks for the Memories." i i

The Whisky a Go Go club on the storied Sunset Strip, once the hub L.A.'s music scene, acknowledged the May 2013 death of The Doors' keyboardist on its marquee: "Rest In Peace Ray Manzarek, Thanks for the Memories." Jason Kempin/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Kempin/Getty Images
The Whisky a Go Go club on the storied Sunset Strip, once the hub L.A.'s music scene, acknowledged the May 2013 death of The Doors' keyboardist on its marquee: "Rest In Peace Ray Manzarek, Thanks for the Memories."

The Whisky a Go Go club on the storied Sunset Strip, once the hub L.A.'s music scene, acknowledged the May 2013 death of The Doors' keyboardist on its marquee: "Rest In Peace Ray Manzarek, Thanks for the Memories."

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

In a city with 6,500 miles of blacktop, one stretch of road might be the most legendary in Los Angeles: the Sunset Strip. It's where the vibrant L.A. music got its vibe; imagine The Doors blaring through the gates of one club and The Byrds softly strumming just a few doors down. From one decade to the next, from folk to metal to hip-hop, iconic music was born there.

But the Strip has taken a few hits over the years. August Brown covers pop music for the Los Angeles Times, and he recently wrote about the venue closures and cultural shifts that have thrown the future of the district into question — particularly as regards whether to revel in history or try and stay on music's cutting edge.

"You can only survive so long as a museum piece," Brown says, standing in front of the storied Whisky a Go Go club, whose exterior now sports a plaque from the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. "You need to need to get young bodies in the door drinking six, seven nights a week if you want to stay open, especially today. Reputation will only get you so far."

NPR's Arun Rath joined August Brown for a walking tour of the Sunset Strip, with stops at the venues that made this part of Hollywood so influential. Hear more at the audio link.

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