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 it all.

“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 to you?
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 posters.

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 well.

Q – I’d heard the stories about this Lori Mattox before.
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 Page?
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!!

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