LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) The Viper Room in the West Hollywood area of Los Angeles could be facing the wrecking ball after an Arizona developer bought a parcel of the Sunset Strip that includes the famed venue.
The sale of the land, which is composed of 38,000 square feet5 from San Vicente Boulevard to Larrabee Street, closed June 15 for $80 million, according to Deadline Hollywood. A representative for the limited liability company, 8850 Sunset, said the firm has not yet decided what to do with the land.
However, the area has seen a tremendous amount of new growth at the expense of several landmarks, including the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard.
Although the Viper Room is mostly known for River Phoenix OD’ing and dying on the sidewalk out front, it has had its share of musical memories. Original owner Johnny Depp was said to have persuaded Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers to debut the room in 1993 and acts like Johnny Cash have played there. Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows, was a bartender at the Viper Room in 1994-95. In fact, the Viper Room is slyly referenced in the Counting Crows song “Long December.”
The space was originally opened as a jazz bar called the Melody Room and was a regular hangout for gansters Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen. It operated as The Central from the 1970s to the 1980s with regular performer Chuck E. Weiss (ie the subject of Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E’s In Love”). During that time, it was used for The Plimsoul’s live performance for the movie “Valley Girl.”
As for “Long December,” Duritz has said that the “hillside manor” referenced in his song was an old, grungy apartment that people would go to “after 2. a.m.” when the Viper Room closed down.