Steaks, beer bottles, furniture, TVs… this historic hotel has seen everything hurled off its balconies by rock ’n’ roll royalty. By Akash Arora.
They used to call it “the Riot House” – and for good reason. Of all the hotels on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, the Andaz West Hollywood (first opened in 1963 by cowboy singer Gene Autry as Gene Autry’s Hotel Continental then operated under several different names before becoming an Andaz property in 2009) has witnessed some of rock ’n’ roll’s most riotous scenes.
It was here, in 1966, that a wasted Jim Morrison, wild frontman of The Doors, was spotted hanging from the balcony by his fingertips. In 1972, Led Zeppelin took over the entire 11th floor, flinging beer bottles and furniture across the road, trying to hit the billboards, while their tour manager, Richard Cole, rode his motorcycle along the corridor. How he managed to sneak the bike through the lobby, into the elevator and all the way up to the 11th floor is anyone’s guess.
Later in the same decade, Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant announced to the world from his balcony, “I am a golden god!” (a line that would be immortalised in the 2000 film Almost Famous) and one evening, The Who drummer Keith Moon climbed up from the room below to offer him a cocktail.
But the Grammy for the most brazen prank – one that was caught on camera by American documentary filmmaker Robert Frank – must go to saxophonist Bobby Keys and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who threw a television set from their 10th-floor balcony in 1972.
Keys rued the incident in his autobiography. “If there’s one moment I could take back it would be that,” he said. “Out of everything I’ve done in my life that had to do with rock ’n’ roll, that plummeting television set seems to be the most ingrained picture in people’s minds of what it is I do.”
Even the room involved (No. 1015) has reached celebrity status. “Guests request it because they know who stayed there,” confirms a hotel source. With a flatscreen TV, a complimentary minibar and glorious sunset views over LA’s suburban sprawl, it’s a rather comfortable den.
But don’t even think of doing what Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses did back in the ’80s – he set off the alarm by barbecuing on the balcony and then, to add fuel to the non-existent fire, hurled steaks at the fans and firefighters gathering outside.
As part of the hotel’s 2009 renovation, all balconies were sealed off with floor-to-ceiling glass and the TVs are now fixed to the wall – just in case. The hellraisers may be long gone but their legends endure. ￼
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