The Viper Room, once owned by Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, will soon face the wrecking ball and be replaced with luxury condominiums, shops and restaurants.
The legendary Sunset Strip music club was opened in 1993 by Depp and actor Sal Jenco. Depp wanted a club where not only his celebrity friends could hang out, but also where he could play guitar – away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. Jenco acted on 21 Jump Street with Depp.
To celebrate its opening night, Depp booked Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to play the 250-capacity venue. Other groups such as The Cult, Tenacious D with frontman Jack Black, Hole, country legend Johnny Cash, The Strokes, Keanu Reeves’s band Dogstar and Juliette Lewis’s Juliette and the Licks all played the venue.
Adam Durtiz of Counting Crows fame worked behind the bar and referred to it as his “second home”. It is also where the Round Here singer met and courted actress Jennifer Aniston.
Other celebrity habitues included Sean Penn, Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio and River Phoenix, who tragically died there on October 31, 1993. It is also where INXS frontman Michael Hutchence gave his last performance before taking his own life a week later.
In 2018, the Viper Room and several adjacent buildings along the Sunset Strip were reportedly sold for $80 million to a buyer known simply as 8850 Sunset.
Other businesses on the block will be levelled to make way for a hotel, 26 condominiums and eight income-restricted housing units. Cafes, shops and the Viper Room entrance will be part of a two-storey platform at street level, while the hotel will rise up to the fifth story, according to The Daily News.
Depp owned the Viper Room until 2004 when he turned control over to Amanda Fox, the daughter of his missing business partner Anthony Fox. Depp and Mr Fox had fallen out of favour and then Mr Fox went missing. His vehicle was later found by police, although he never was.
The Viper Room’s last owner was Harry Morton, son of Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton, who bought it in 2008 and planned to open similar clubs in Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Seattle, New York, London, and Tokyo.