The Viper Room is a nightclub located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. It was opened in 1993 and was partly owned by actor Johnny Depp until 2004. The club is infamous as the site where actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on Halloween morning in 1993.
Even following Phoenix’s death, the club remained a hangout for Hollywood’s most popular young actors. Regulars included Jennifer Aniston and Sean Penn. Adam Duritz, the lead singer of Counting Crows, worked as a Viper Room bartender in late 1994 – early 1995 to escape his newfound fame.
At Depp's request Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at the club's opening night.
In the 1983 film Valley Girl, the building (then housing a nightclub called The Central) was used for scenes featuring the new-wave band the Plimsouls. In Oliver Stone’s film, The Doors (1991), the building was used as a filming location for scenes depicting the London Fog, also of West Hollywood. London Fog was a lesser-known nightclub next to the Whisky a Go Go where the Doors had their first regular gig for four months in early 1966.
The Viper Room is also featured in the 2004 documentary DiG! when members of the band the Brian Jonestown Massacre began brawling with each other on stage while performing.
As part of the settlement of a lawsuit involving the disappearance of co-owner Anthony Fox in 2001, Depp relinquished his ownership of the Viper Room in 2004. Until early 2008, the club was owned by Darin Feinstein, Bevan Cooney, and Blackhawk Capital Partners, Inc. The club is currently owned by Harry Morton, President and CEO of Pink Taco, and the son of Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Peter Morton. Morton plans to turn the gritty Sunset Strip club into a global franchise by opening several live music venues throughout the world, all of which will bear the name "The Viper Room".
A nightclub located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was formerly called "The Viper Room." The club changed its name to "The Poison Room" on January 1, 2006, after they were told by the West Hollywood Viper Room to stop using the name. Another "Viper Room" in Portland, Oregon, has also been told to stop using the name under threat of a trademark lawsuit, with owner Darin Feinstein claiming "Every dollar they make is the result of using our name." Additionally, there is a legal brothel in Brisbane, Australia called 'The Viper Room'. There is also a nightclub in Stockholm, Sweden called "The Viper Room," as well as one in Harrogate, UK called "Viper Room" and one in Vienna, Austria, also called "Viper Room." Until February 2009 there was a nightclub with the same name in Melbourne, Australia; it was closed down due to a spate of violent incidents that included two shootings as well as license breaches and the arrest of a co-owner on drug charges.