West Hollywood music club House of Blues bid farewell on Monday night in typical Sunset Strip fashion: with hair metal cover band Steel Panther and a series of cameos from famous musicians, most notably Miley Cyrus and her dad, Billy Ray.
The venue, which is being demolished to make way for a new high-rise hotel complex, has been a central part of the Sunset Strip since the mid-1990s, when the faux-ramshackle “blues shack” was built to bring new musical life to the district. Over the next two decades, it became of hub for rock, hip-hop and R&B shows even as the scene surrounding it struggled to remain relevant.
Over the years, House of Blues hosted superstars such as No Doubt, the Strokes, Little Richard, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, D’Angelo and the long-running Gospel Brunch celebration of spiritual music.
The final gig, which was broadcast on Yahoo Music, was steeped in nostalgia for the district’s hair metal past.
All anybody is talking about, though, are Miley and Billy Ray, who jumped onstage to do a version of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” That followed pre-performance antics involving a protracted search for Billy Ray within the sold-out venue, the highlight of which was an onstage quip that Billy Ray was probably doing cocaine in the bathroom — and that he and Miley perhaps share the same dealer. (Miley played along, jokingly gesturing for them to keep their mouths shut.)
According to Yahoo Music’s Lina Lecaro, also joining Steel Panther on Monday was Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, comedian Dane Cook (performing Van Halen’s “Panama”) and Joey Fatone of NSYNC, who transformed Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” into the parody “Free Ballin.’ ”
Despite its musical legacy, House of Blues in West Hollywood was perhaps best known for the tragedy of one of its former employees. Waitress Lana Clarkson was working at the club in 2003 on the night she met producer Phil Spector, who invited her to his mansion. A short time after they arrived, she was dead from a gunshot wound. Spector was convicted of her murder and remains in jail.
In a tweet published Tuesday morning, House of Blues teased forthcoming news while offering appreciation, writing: “THANK YOU for an amazing 21 years on the Sunset Strip. Stay tuned, LA… The best is yet to come.”
Live Nation has yet to announce a new location for the venue.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit