Erik Quisling and Austin Williams
(Authors of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex,
Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll on The Sunset Strip)
The title of Erik Quisling’s and Austin Williams book just about says
“Straight Whisky” is the first book ever to chronicle all the
music, magic, memories, and mayhem of Sunset Strip.
Q – As I read the book, and look at all the photos you’ve
included, it’s kind of difficult to believe this period in rock ‘n’ roll
really happened. But, it did, because I remember it. It doesn’t resemble
anything that’s out there today. Do other people say the same thing
A – Yeah, definitely. That was an astonishing thing when I first met
Mario (Maglieri-----owner of The Whisky), and he said he owned The Whisky,
Rainbow, and Roxy since 1964. He was this charismatic figure. It was just like
there needs to be something done about this guy. A documentary film about this
guy ‘cause he’s got so many stories to tell and his partners are
such legendary figures. It’s just mind boggling to us that nothing had
ever been done about them on my kind of scale, aside from the occasional L.A.
Times article. So, it didn’t take much to enroll Austin in the whole
idea. And that’s how it started, we did the documentary film on The Strip
and then it basically led from that into the book.
Q – There really was no other place in the world for “live” entertainment
in the 1960’s was there?
A – It truly was a special place. It was a vortex of generating force.
There was the ability to bring all the music to the market place and there
was an audience and mentality for it all at that particular time. So, it really
just came together.
Q – So, whose idea was it to do the book?
A – I was actually the one who came up with the idea to do the book.
Austin is a great writer. We worked together on the whole thing. I was able
to get the book deal and together we put the book together.
Q – How did you know that after all these years the
public would still be interested in this?
A – Well, I’m fairly young. Austin and I are in our early 30’s.
We’re interested in it. I live right by The Whisky A Go Go. The Strip
is still totally popping with young people and The Whisky is still one of the
most exciting places to play at as is The Roxy. Things sold out just about
every night. The Rainbow Bar and Grill is just always packed to the hilt. It’s
one of the most popular bars in town. It’s been around since 1972. From
all the stories we’ve been told, it’s been packed since it opened.
It hasn’t taken a foot off the gas yet.
Q – These color posters that you have in the book-----where
did you find them?
A – Well, Dennis Loren is the man. He’s been printing concert posters
for decades. We’re able to get in contact with him. He was commissioned
to do a string of posters specifically for the Whisky and we were able to track
him down, through the owners of the Whisky. That’s the beauty of having
only a couple of guys own the place for the last 40 years. They can look through
their files and track a lot of these people down. So, that’s all we did.
He’s this old hippie guy and he was thrilled to be able to lend us his
Q – How is it that the people you interviewed for the
book, remember so much about those days. Did they keep a running journal?
Austin – Well you know, that’s the thing there were so many indelible
moments that took place. In many cases you’re talking about the peak
highlights of these peoples lives. Despite the copious rivers of alcohol and
drugs that were being consumed be many of them at the time, you’re not
likely to forget saving the Keyboardist in The Doors, and getting up there
on the night Jim Morrison sang these infamous words to “The End”,
improving them and then got the whole band kicked off the stage. They tend
to sort of stay in your mind. They become mythologized over the years and become
part of the popular lore of rock ‘n’ roll. The stories just spread
like Wildfire. When we contacted these people and wanted to get intimate recollections
of things that happened 20, 30 years ago, they’re still like completely
fresh in their minds.
Q – What happened to some of the people profiled in
your book? People like Sable Star and Lori Mattox?
Erik – Well, Lori Mattox for example is still a denizen of the L.A. nightclub
scene. She’s actually very accessible. She’s not hiding from anybody.
She just works in a retail store, here in town, and still loves music, and
still loves Jimmy Page, and talking about all her old times. Actually one of
her favorite bands right now is a band called “White Star”. That
band coincidentally enough is managed by Lou Adler’s son, Nick Adler
and his other son is in the band as well as the sons of other famous rock stars,
like Roy Orbison’s son. I forget the other two, but they all grew up
in the Malibu Colony together. They’re all the rich kids of rock stars.
Apparently they’re trying to keep alive that whole rock star lifestyle
scene. Party ‘til the wee hours and tons of chicks, and tryin’ to
live the dream their dads did.
Q – So Lori Mattox would be how old today?
A – She’s in her mid 40’s probably.
Austin – She doesn’t look a day over 48.
A – Austin would know better than me.
Austin – I’ve met her a few more times. She’s held up remarkably
Q – I’d heard the stories about this Lori Mattox
A – Well, apparently it was quite the craze, you know, back at the time.
You had this one magazine called Starlets. It was a very popular magazine back
in the early 70’s. What they basically did is take 13, 14 year olds and
paint ‘em up to look like they’re 23, 24. You make ‘em look
like full grown women. It was just a trophy piece for these rock stars to bird
dog these “models” in these magazines, and then have their manager
set ‘em up with them. That’s how Jimmy Page met Lori Mattox.
Q – So Led Zeppeline’s manager, Peter Grant would
have gone along with this?
A – I think probably more like Richard Cole. He was more of the hands
on, day to day, micro-managing kind of guy. Peter Grant was sort of the ball-buster
guy planning everything.
Q – Lori had a mother, father somewhere in Los Angeles?
A – Yeah. Not only that, her mother fully sanctioned the affair with
Jimmy Page. He went over and met her-----introduced himself. He was very polite
and well spoken. Ms. Mattox Sr. figured well, he’s like a nice guy.
Austin – (Laughs).
Q – The mother allowed Lori to go on the road with Jimmy
Erik – Apparently. She wasn’t held hostage. For 2 years she was
on the road with Led Zeppelin.,
A highly documented fact.
Q – Now, how do you follow up a book like this? What’s
your next project?
A – We’ve been researching a new book called “Straight Bourbon” which
is about New Orleans-----Bourbon Street. It’s called “Straight
Bourbon, A Living History of Voodo Blues and Jazz”.
Austin – We’re considering as well, a longer version for paperback
release of “Straight Whisky” including some stuff that we didn’t
think we could release without opening ourselves up to some libel suits. But,
if we can get that cleared up, there will be a fatter, juicer paperback version
in the future. This shit is gonna blow your doors off.
Erik – Yeah-----buckle your seatbelt!!
© Gary James All Rights Reserved