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So yeah, we were all very excited about the history of the place." Tragically, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside the club in the early morning of October 31, 1993 (often misreported as Halloween night).Johnny has said in interviews that he was playing on stage with his band P at the time, and had no idea what had happened until being notified of it later.From a 1994 People magazine article, Johnny envisioned the club as a "cool little underground place" for him and his friends to hang out at and listen to good music.In the 2013 documentary Sunset Strip, Johnny elaborates: What I wanted out of The Viper Room, first and foremost…Twenty years after River's death, at least 2 books were published to recount the tragedy: Bob Forrest's Running With Monsters and Gavin Edwards' Last Night At The Viper Room.Forrest's book is mentioned by the National Enquirer while Edwards' is described by the UK Daily Mail.Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers were among the acts; according to a former website, they played a 60 minute set that included the debut performance of Mary Jane's Last Dance, Crawling Back To You (reportedly the only performance of this song with Stan Lynch on drums), Drivin’ Down To Georgia, and Something In the Air.Shane Mac Gowan's participation is mentioned in a blog comment by backup musician Cindy Collins Smith.
The opening night was a benefit for the Starlight Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children.I opened the Viper Room for a single reason: I was looking for a bar worthy of the name. A place where, if I wanted to have a drink with friends, we would not be left victims by ridiculous pounding beats by a “connected”, simple-minded DJ.Or there would none of this feeling of rage that invades you when you suffer the bad taste of others.December 3, 1993: the 2 Johnnys with June Carter Cash, screen captures of brief footage from the Sunset Strip documentary, handwritten lyrics to Drive On, and a mention in the January 27, 1994 Rolling Stone Another famous Viper Room guest was Hunter S. Johnny and John Cusack joined Hunter on stage to discuss many things, including his fight against a DUI charge.Some of this Viper Room appearance has been documented on the DVD, Breakfast With Hunter.