A Wild Night on the Sunset Strip With Matt Sorum, of Guns N' Roses
[Editor's note: Soon-to-be-award-winning gonzo music journalist Danielle Bacher prowls the late late night scene for West Coast Sound. For this installment, she hit the town with drummer Matt Sorum of Guns N' Roses, the Cult, Velvet Revolver and Camp Freddy.]
Danielle Bacher Sorum with his fiancée Adriane "Ace" Harper
10:10 p.m.: Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath passes me as he exits the Whisky a Go Go. Two girls in their mid-20s wearing cutoff shorts and Nirvana T-shirts hold posters for him to sign. One is a large, cheesy photo of his mug with the frosted blonde tips that he sported in the '90s. I wonder how he feels about that look.
10:12 p.m.: I wait in line to get into the venue with drummer Matt Sorum. His fiancée Adriane "Ace" Harper, a former dancer for Duran Duran and singer of electro-rock band Diamond Baby, is with us, too. We are trying to get into the Rock Against MS benefit, but we aren't on the list. Vocalist/bassist Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead ), vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Sabbath), drummer Marky Ramone (Ramones/Misfits) and a bunch of other rock & rollers are inside.
Danielle Bacher Glenn Hughes (Left) Sorum (Right) inside the Rainbow
10:14 p.m.: We are having difficulty at the box office. Sorum mocks the fact that a rock star can't get into a sold-out show. He thinks it's hilarious that we have to wait for approval.
Two hours before, we'e sitting in a red booth at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Ace and Sorum order iced teas. He adjusts his glasses, which have pinkish-red tinted lenses. He's wearing a black shirt with a soft black scarf and jacket to match. His blonde spikes are gelled perfectly. Ace puts her hand on top of his, her seafoam green nails wrapped around his fingertips. Her shiny engagement ring glitters in the dim restaurant. They met seven years ago at a Super Bowl party in Texas. She was hammered and waited six months to sleep with him.
"Straight from the Heart" by Brian Adams plays loudly. Sorum hasn't done drugs or alcohol in about five years. Ace is sober, too.
We're here because the Rainbow was one of Sorum's first hangouts in Los Angeles. Owner Mario Maglieri comes over to our booth to say hello. I notice that Slash's booth is in the far back, where Guns N' Roses filmed part of the video for "November Rain."
Sorum tells the owner that he would often sneak into his restaurant because he was underage. He was like a father to Sorum during this time and would tell him if he was out of control or drinking too much.
Mötley Crüe's 1987 hit "Girls, Girls, Girls" blares. Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple approaches our table. Boxer/biker/actor Chuck Zito sits in the booth next to us. Touring drummer Kenny Aronoff, next to me in our booth, tells me that Sorum has a nice white ass. He danced for him naked one night with a lampshade on his head. He also tells me that in the early-'90s, during a major hangover, he informed Dave Grohl that he was never going to make it in a band with a goofy name like Foo Fighters. Good call.
Danielle Bacher Kenny Aronoff (Left) and Sorum (Right)
10:20 p.m.: They finally let us into the club. I think about what Matt told me at the Rainbow: Things on the Strip have changed a lot since the days when hard rock was king.
Back then, everyone dressed like a rock star. You had to distinguish the "posers" from the real musicians. He said that if the person didn't have a Les Paul or Stratocaster, they had the wrong equipment. At the Rainbow in the late-'70s and '80s, the rockers would converge in the parking lot to pop Quaaludes and buy coke. They would try to pick up girls or, if they had any money left, they would run to Gil Turner's liquor store to buy alcohol and hang out until the next party.
"It was great back in the day. Where is the cool music scene now? Silver Lake? It's just different," he says.
10:21 p.m.: We walk into the Whisky. A dude comes up to Ace and starts flirting with her. She tells him that she's here with her fiancé and to "be careful." The guy looks at me, standing next to her. She laughs and says, "No, not her, although I would be honored. I used to do that back in the day when I was drinking." She gives me a hug, laughs and says, "But don't get me wrong, I would love to be your wife." The guy is confused as hell and gives us a weird look, then walks off.
10:22 p.m.: An adoring fan screams, "OH MY GOD! I THINK BILLY IDOL IS HERE!" I feel a hand on my shoulder.
10:23 p.m.: I turn around. The security guard from the venue tells me that I have to leave. Matt and Ace keep walking and don't notice that I left. Awesome.
An hour before all this shit goes down, the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain" plays softly through speakers inside Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Tattoo shop. We watch him ink a client in the back room. "I brought some friends with me. They all want tattoos on their butts and maybe breasts," Sorum says to Mahoney.
Danielle Bacher Sorum (Left) Mark Mahoney (Right) inside Mark Mahoney's tattoo shop
I'm not exactly sure why we are here, but Mahoney has done the cover up for Sorum's sleeve, and he wants to get a consultation about doing some extra nautical work on his arm.