December 7, 2008

Elmer Valentine of Whisky a Go Go dies

Elmer Valentine, a former Chicago police officer who helped start the go-go dancing craze as owner of Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, has died at 85.

Valentine died at his home in Los Angeles Wednesday, producer Lou Adler -- Valentine's business partner and friend -- said. Adler told the Los Angeles Times Valentine had been in poor health for four years.

In a 2000 interview with Vanity Fair, Valentine said the first go-go dancer was an accident, when he decided to use a female DJ at the club. The young woman started dancing to the music and the crowd loved it.

Valentine moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s after his marriage broke up and because he was in trouble in Chicago for taking payoffs from the mob. He told Vanity Fair he had some experience there running nightclubs for the outfit.

His first business in Los Angeles was P.J.'s, a restaurant and nightclub. After selling his interest, he went to Europe and visited a Paris discotheque, which inspired Whisky a Go Go in 1964. He also founded the Roxy Theater in the 1970s.

Being in that club was like heaven for him, Adler said. He loved rock music, and he loved the musicians. He had a special relationship with all of them.