The famed Roxy nightclub in West Hollywood turns 50 this month, and it’s celebrating its place in history with a new exhibit at the Grammy Museum.
Much of the exhibit, titled Roxy: 50 and Still Rockin’, draws from the personal archive of Roxy co-founder Lou Adler, 89, who opened the 500-capacity club on the Sunset Strip with Elmer Valentine in 1973. Adler is known as a modern master of both film and song whose introductions are typically preceded by a long list of award-winner accolades, but it was his greatest accomplishment – fathering and raising seven successful sons – that gives the exhibit a unique appeal.
Included in the exhibit — which boasts photos and portraits of Hollywood stars and music legends who frequented the club, including Neil Young, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan — is a short documentary that offers a revealing glimpse inside the Roxy’s first family.
Directed by Ashley Stagg and produced by Grammy Museum chief curator/vp of curatorial affairs Jasen Emmons, the documentary focuses on Adler’s place atop the influential family, which includes Adler’s sons, ages 50 to 21: Nic, Cisco, Sonny, Pablo, Ike, Oscar and Manny.
Lou Adler’s two oldest sons, Nic Adler and Cisco Adler, came of age in The Roxy, the On the Rox private club upstairs and the kitchen of the neighboring Rainbow Bar & Grill, all of which their father co-owned along with most of the rest of the Sunset Strip, including other famous outposts including the Whiskey A-Go-Go, the Comedy Store and the Viper Room.
Nic Adler recalls in the film, “As I have my own kids and they say they want to go somewhere…I’m like, ‘That’s unsafe.’ And then I think back to my own childhood, having free reign between the Rainbow and The Roxy and riding my skateboard in the parking lot. And I think at that point I kind of realized that maybe the way I grew up was different.”
Cisco Adler described the venue as an after-school “rock and roll YMCA” with live music, food and a steady stream of Lakers televised games always available.
“I was a musician playing the club before I was actually in a role other than being an Adler, but I can tell you, I still felt that responsibility,” says Cisco Adler in the film, which notes he first performed on stage in 2000 singing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” with Bret Michaels. “When you step on that stage, it’s a big moment.”
“Ike has become involved in On The Rox and will become more involved as time goes,” Cisco Adler tells Billboard. “Oscar has started handling merchandise. It’s a true family business.”
In the film, Lou Adler says he never “thought about” making The Roxy part of his son’s lives but that “it was automatic.”
Also featured in the film is promoter and Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett, who has been designated as an honorary Adler by the family for the years he spent at the venue as a fan, and later as a promoter bringing concerts to the venue. He’s now viewed as the keeper of the flame, managing the venue on behalf of the Adlers through his L.A. concert company, Goldenvoice.
In the film, Tollett recalls seeing Lou pull up to The Roxy in an Aston Martin Lagonda with one of his kids in the backseat — on a school night — and thinking to himself, “What a cool dad.”
The Roxy is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of anniversary shows, including two Neil Young concerts set for Wednesday (Sept. 20) and Thursday (Sept. 21) in honor of Young’s concerts that opened the venue in 1973. Additionally, Stephen Marley will perform on Monday (Sept. 25) in honor of Bob Marley and the Wailers‘ historic 1976 performance at The Roxy, which aired live on KMET radio and was released as a live album in 2023. More information can be found at theroxyturns50.com.
The City of West Hollywood is also hosting an exhibit on the history of the Roxy at the West Hollywood Library in conjunction with the Grammy Museum. Click here for more information.