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…And you could listen to the music that you and your friends like.And we wanted to hear Louis Jordan, and we wanted to hear Cab Calloway, and we wanted to hear old blues, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf. Let’s make this place feel like it should’ve been, or like maybe it was back then, you know, in the 30’s. It was called The Melody Room then, which is like at that time, I mean, the people that I heard that had played there were like Charlie Parker, Coltrane, all these amazing, amazing players from back in the day.
The opening night was a benefit for the Starlight Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children.In a Spin Magazine article, Gibby Haynes recalls playing Michael Stipe that night: "Haynes later told Spin about the night P played at Depp's Viper Room in Los Angeles.Starting 'Michael Stipe,' the singer looked for Phoenix, who was supposed to be in attendance: '[The song's] got River's name in it, so it was going to be cool.The Viper Room operated successfully for years, attracting many top music acts. In 2000, Anthony Fox sued Johnny for mishandling of profits, but while the suit was in progress, Fox disappeared in December of 2001 (he is still missing to this day).Meanwhile, by this time, Johnny was spending most of his time in France with long time love Vanessa Paradis and their two children, and had become less and less involved with the club.