As usual, I seem to be always late to the party when it comes to cool music, movies and or even visiting historically killer places such as the world famous Rainbow Bar and Grill. What can I say, I tend to stay away from what is trendy or popular due to the fact I don’t want to conform, be a sheep, or fall into any of the trends just because it’s the “in” thing to do. And maybe that’s why I was born to be a Metalhead. But I digress.
One day removed from a national holiday for most (4/20) my beautiful wife and I made our way down to the LA area to hang with our dear friend Joey “Blue” Gonzalez of Superjoint/Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals/ Warbeast fame. After a relaxing morning/afternoon spent at the Santa Monica pier and beach, soaking up the tasty foods and sunshine, it was time to head back to the hotel to clean up for what would come to be one of the most excellent nights this guy has had in a long time.
Before you arrive at The Rainbow you pass such famed and iconic establishments on the Sunset Strip like The Viper Room, Whiskey A Go Go, and The Roxy, that are all well within stumbling distances from each other. I may live in California but never really have adventured too much in the Hollywood area; in fact, I hadn’t been in that part of town in well over 20 years.
As the Uber driver dropped us off in front of The Rainbow I felt a bit of adrenaline kick in: I was about to walk into a place that some of the greatest artists of all time frequented, or still do. To think of all the Oscar and Grammy nominees and winners that graced this somewhat small but iconic rock bar in Hollywood CA with their presence was a bit overwhelming for a dude like me who loves the arts.
The first thing on my mind was to hit the Lemmy Lounge and pay my respects to the beautiful statue of the man, the myth, the legend himself Mr. Lemmy Kilmister. Before I could properly pay my respects I first had to have a strong drink, Jack and Coke it was. I know Lemmy’s home away from home was The Rainbow, but the homage and respect paid to this man through the bar décor was on a another level. The photos, bar stools, the beloved Snaggletooth character on the door leading inside to the restaurant, all Motorhead, all Lemmy in every direction you turned. It was one of the coolest decorated places I have ever had the opportunity to sit and have a drink in, that’s for sure.
Seeing how I didn’t have a reservation and it was a busy Saturday night I quickly made nice with the hostess and complimented her cut up Hirax shirt that she was wearing, to which she replied back with “hey, killer Dying Fetus shirt” and before I knew it our small party of four had a killer booth right smack dab in the middle of the restaurant.
The memorabilia on the walls, the famous red booths, the killer tunes coming through the restaurant’s sound system, we were really here, at the place I have seen hundreds of times in movies and on TV; we were about to dine at The Rainbow. The weight of this establishment’s history could be felt, almost as it had its own pulse.
For the first 10 minutes or so after being seated I found myself not looking at my menu, but just smiling and taking everything in, almost in a trance, hypnotized by the sheer beauty of the place and all its glory. Although in all fairness, it could have been the effects of some tasty cannabis oil I may or may not have partaken in prior to walking in from the Lemmy Lounge.
After ordering some drinks and some really choice appetizers (stuffed mushrooms and the best calamari I have ever tasted) something strange happened. One of the runners in the restaurant had a ton tattoos but the one in particular was on the side of his head which Blue noticed and asked the guy what his tattoo said, which the young man replied, “It says strength, just like the one Phil Anselmo has” and then you could see it in his eyes – this restaurant employee had a light bulb go off and he said, “I know you; you’re the guy from Superjoint and The Illegals!” After a quick handshake and how do you do the runner, well, runs off to do his job and leave us to our dining experience. What happened next was nothing short of incredible.
As we began to dive into our appetizers listening to the restaurant’s stereo belt out tons of Motley Crue, Poison and other classic 80s Sunset strip rock and metal tunes there seemed to be an abrupt song change, and as soon as the first note rang out Blue and I looked up from our plates, locked eyes and smiled: Superjoint was being played. Word had got out; a member of Superjoint was in the building. For approximately the next hour every other song was a Superjoint tune. Ever heard the expression “Happier than a pig in shit”? Well, that was me. I was eating chicken marsala and drinking Jack and Cokes while the soothing sounds of songs like “Fuck Your Enemy”, “Today and Tomorrow” and “Personal Insult” were being played. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect.
While stepping outside for a quick smoke break I had asked the waitress if that was common practice to play music from an artist who is dining there and the answer was yes. Management likes to show them respect so as a gesture they play their music. So keep that in mind boys and girls – if ever at The Rainbow and a certain band is being played a lot, there is a good chance that someone from the group is in the place.
After finishing our meal we journeyed back out to Lemmy’s Lounge and were lucky enough to grab a table. One thing became very clear to me at that point; the use of medical/recreational Marijuana was just about at every table and nobody batted an eye. Being from California my entire life nothing should come as a surprise; I just have never seen a dude breaking up bud, at a dinner table in public, to roll a joint while eating chips and salsa with his other had. This was a true rock/metal bar if I had ever been to one.
As our night started to wind down (and the booze really kicked in) something started to stand out to me. Everyone looked like a caricature of someone famous. That guy over there looks like Charlie from Anthrax, that guy over there looks like Janick from Maiden, hey that guy over there looks like Biff from Saxon. Now, is it possible some of what I seen could have been the real deal? Sure. But most likely just guys that have “the look” and that’s just how they roll.
The Rainbow had groups of people ranging from ages 21 to 81 in it, no dress code; all races, creeds, colors shapes and sizes were represented here. If metal and rock is your thing, and you want a solid meal with a stiff drink, The Rainbow Bar and Grill is where it is at. Reasonable prices, very helpful and inviting staff, cool people in the crowd and hey, you never know who or what you will see there. I now have a full understanding of why Lemmy lived so close to this place and was a staple there. To put it in simplest form, The Rainbow Bar and Grill is fucking cool.