LOS ANGELES The Viper Room, the Los Angeles nightclub once co-owned by actor Johnny Depp, has been sold to Harry Morton, the son of Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton, a spokeswoman for the venue said on Friday.
Morton, a one-time paramour of Lindsay Lohan, plans to open Viper Rooms in such cities as Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Seattle, New York, London and Tokyo.
As for the existing one, which occupies a small corner dug into a slope on the Sunset Strip, Morton said he planned only minor cosmetic changes, and would not compromise its identity or culture.
The Viper Room has hosted such acts as Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen since Depp took control in 1993. He changed its name from The Central, a blue-collar bar previously known as the Melody Room and Filthy McNasty's, and turned it into one of the city's hippest hangouts. It is perhaps best known as the site of actor River Phoenix's fatal drug overdose, also in 1993.
Depp sold the club to investment bank Blackhawk Capital Partners in 2004, according to the firm's Web site. Morton's statement said Blackhawk will retain a minority stake. Morton also owns the fledgling Pink Taco Mexican restaurant chain.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman)