Rock Tour of London
If there is a capital of rock music anywhere in the world, it would almost certainly be London. It was here in the ’60s that swing was born and such monsters as The Rolling Stones and The Who appeared. Punk rock came out of London in the ’70s. The British stars of the 80s defies enumeration. The 90s brought the world Blur and Oasis… The birthplace of world-class stars in London continues to this day.
The Times Online has a list of the top 15 most significant places that have played an unforgettable role in rock’n’roll history.
1. “The Palladium, Argyll Street In the 1960s, London’s Palladium Concert Hall, already one of Europe’s most popular concert halls, hosted the filming of a TV program in which The Beatles made their first appearance in October 1963. The 15 million viewers that night started a mad wave of “Beatlemania” that has not subsided to this day.
2. Magistrates Court, Gt Marlborough Street This popular court in London’s West End neighborhood has been visited by many “bad” rockers. In the 1960s Mick Jagger was seen here, prosecuted for smoking pot. Sex Pistols musician Johnny Rotten paid £40 in 1977 for drug possession by decision of the Magistrates Court.
3. Carnaby Street Carnaby Street is synonymous with the London swing of the 60s. It was a street where all the fashionable people of London bought their shiny shirts and velvet jackets. The mood of the time is captured in the Kinks song ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’.
4. Bag ‘O Nails Club, 8 Kingly Street Back in the 60s Bag ‘O Nails was a cult club and the most frequented by fashionable young people. It was here that Paul McCartney met his future wife Linda.
5. Heddon Street is where a young David Bowie posed with his guitar for the cover of his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust which conquered the world and made Bowie a world star.
6. Berwick Street In 1995, the world experienced a Britpop boom led by Oasis. On Berwick Street in Soho, Oasis shot the cover for their best album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. The SoHo neighborhood is known for its shopping. Oasis vocalist Noel Gallagher says he doesn’t like the cover of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, which hasn’t stopped the album from becoming a best-seller and literally gold-plating the musicians.
7. The Marquee, Wardour Street The legendary The Marquee Club was once the Mecca of British rock and roll. In the ’60s the club was elsewhere – on Oxford Street. Rod Stewart, The Who and Pink Floyd all played here. In 1976, The Marquee hosted the first-ever punk festival. It was at this club that the Sex Pistols filmed the music video for their hit God Save the Queen.
8. La Chasse Bar, 100 Wardour Street At the very end of Wardour Street is La Chasse Bar, which is considered the home of Yes, a band founded in 1968.
9. The 2is, Old Compton Street Once upon a time, The 2is became legendary. The most famous stars of British rock ‘n’ roll drank coffee with milk here.
10. Old Compton Street and Dean Street crossroads Thirty years ago a young Dublin dreamer came to London and sold hot dogs at the crossroads. However, the dream lived on and in an instant became a reality. First he founded the band Boomtown Rats, and then he rose to fame by putting on a Live Aid concert. His last big show, Live 8, was watched by the whole world. His name? Bob Geldof, of course.
11. Ronnie’s Scott’s Club, Frith Street In May 1969, at Ronnie’s Scott’s Jazz Club, The Who group premiered their legendary opera Tommy. A year later, in 1970, Jimi Hendrix played his last concert at Ronnie’s Scott’s.
12. Angelucci’s Club, Frith Street At Angelucci’s, Mark Nofler introduced Wild West End to the world.
13. St. Martin’s College of the Arts, Charing Cross Road St. Martin’s College of the Arts has produced many musical stars. The Sex Pistols made their debut in this college auditorium on November 6, 1975, all because bassist Glen Matlock studied here. But after the fifth song, the rector’s office knocked out the hall lights. Within the walls of the College of the Arts, the hit song Common People was inspired by Pulp founder Jarvis Cocker.
14. Denmark Street Denmark Street has always been a street of printers, agents and journalists. It is also home to Regent Sound Studios, where a young Elton John recorded several songs. There is now a guitar store next to the studio, patronized by Paul McCartney and Noel Gallagher.
15. McCartney Publishing Ltd, Soho Square At this Soho address is the record company owned by Sir Paul McCartney.
An era in the rhythm of dance. A Club Guide to Swinging London in the 60s
In the late ’50s, British youths were indiscriminately drawn to American music: rock ‘n’ roll and blues, rhythm and blues and soul. It was as if the fog of Albion itself had become less dense, and more and more achievements of the American pop industry found their way to British listeners, and immigrants from Jamaica introduced the British to the ska genre. A subculture of mods emerged, which absorbed all the new trends. Mods became the main audience at concerts and parties.
Such a tumultuous upsurge in the world of music could not fail to affect the life of the British capital, and in the late 1950’s in London has greatly increased the number of nightclubs. In Soho, the city’s main shopping and entertainment district, more than a dozen clubs sprang up over an area of two and a half square kilometers, some of which we’ll run through in a moment.
Flamingo | 1952 – 1967.
The legendary Flamingo Club was founded by London businessman and jazz fan Jeffrey Krueger. In 1952 he opened a place called Jazz in Mapleton as part of a restaurant on Coventry Street that was positioned as a very respectable establishment with quality music and a dress code (men had to come in ties). The club got its final name – Flamingo – from a popular 1941 jazz composition of the same name, which was often played in the club. Flamingo’s high reputation attracted even foreign stars: in the mid-1950s American jazz legends Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn shone on its stage.
In ’57 the club moved to Wardor Street, and two years later it was headed by Rick Gunnell, a former boxer and bouncer who had grown into one of the central figures of the London music industry of those years.
The place quickly became popular with natives of the British colonies and American soldiers from a nearby military base. It was Gunnell who discovered the talent of the now famous British singer and pianist Georgie Phayme, making him a resident of the club along with his band The Blue Flames.
Georgie Feim recalls, “There were only a few white people who went to the Flamingo. When I first went there to play, I was pretty freaked out. But once I started playing there regularly, I felt like a fish in water.
The club was a huge hall in the basement of an old house. The ascetic interior consisted of two stages with a balcony, five movie theater seats, a bar, and a hot dog stand.
The Flamingo had no liquor license, but rhythm and blues singer Gino Washington recalls teenagers sneaking in scotch or bourbon, ordering a Coke at the bar and mixing themselves a cocktail. Fights and scuffles were commonplace here.
In the early ’60s the entourage and reputation of the club changed: the institution attracted the best musicians and dancers, but along with them, crooks, drug dealers, gangsters, pimps and girls of easy virtue.
Few people know, but it was in the Flamingo Club that the famous political scandal “The Profumo Affair” began. In 1962 the club became literally a battleground between the lovers of a famous cabaret dancer and born-again adventuress Christine Keeler. As a result of this sordid and tabloid-story, in which British intelligence reports from MI5 and even the name of a Soviet diplomat, GRU officer Ivanov appear, British Defense Secretary John Profumo, who was publicly accused of having affairs with Keeler, had to resign.
Due to the incident, American employees were banned from visiting the Flamingo. Fortunately for the institution, this did not affect its popularity, because the number of mods – passionate fans of jazz and rhythm and blues – was steadily growing, and the audience of the club expanded.
On Fridays and Saturdays there was jazz until midnight, and then it was time for the Allnighter Club – until six o’clock in the morning the dark, packed hall was a fashion paradise and the center of “swinging London”. Fresh vinyl records poured from the latest hits of rhythm and blues, and the most energetic and trendy bands played on stage. Georgie Fame, Chris Farlow, Gino Washington and Zoot Mani were regulars at the Flamingo, and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix hung out.
In the mid-1960s, the mod movement peaked, and the club began to invite American stars again: Steve Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lee Hooker and Bill Haley. The club was renamed the Pink Flamingo. Rick Gunnell was subsequently accused of real estate fraud and the place closed in 1967.
Another legendary club, The Marquee (‘Mackey’ – ‘marquee’), moved from Oxford Street to the already familiar Wardor Street in 1964. The institution opened in 1958 and became the cradle of British blues. It was here that the “father of British blues” Alexis Corner, who founded with Cyril Davis the band Blues Incorporated, performed. The names of the musicians it nurtured speak for themselves: Graham Bond, Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones), Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker (both The Cream) and Art Wood (brother of Ronnie Wood, who founded The Artwoods, where the future Deep Purple keyboardist John Lord played) started there.
It was in Marquee that The Rolling Stones gave their first concert on July 12, 1962, and in 1964 the legendary American bluesman Sonny “Boy” Williamson was accompanied by the then little-known The Yardbirds. It was also where they recorded their first album, Five Live, the Yardbirds.
The Yardbirds concert with legendary rock guitarists Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, Marquee, 1966
Many other future stars: The Who, Manfred Mann, The Spencer Davis Group, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Rod Stewart also performed at this club. The Moody Blues recorded their hit “Go Now” in a small studio set up in a garage in the backyard, and it was subsequently used by Elton John, The Clash, and many others.
The Marquee has not stayed away from new musical trends and since the second half of the 60s it has hosted Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.
In the 70s the best representatives of punk rock and “new wave” played here: Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Stranglers, The Police, The Cure, Joy Division, The Skrewdriver. Alexis Corner still appeared on stage, and Dire Straits also performed there.
The Marquee was also famous for its “secret” concerts, where Genesis (as Garden Wall), The Jam (as John’s Boys), Iron Maiden (as The Entire Population of Hackney), Prince and Mötley Crüe played under other names.
The Wardor Street premises were sold in 1988 to manager Rod Stewart. The club moved to Charing Cross Road, and Metallica and Dream Theater performed there in the early ’90s. The Marquee closed at its new location in 1996.
The Marquee concert poster for The Face, the British band, successors to the legendary mod band The Small Faces, 1969
The Scene began as a jazz club, and by 1963 it had completely changed the concept in accordance with its new clients – the mods. The club invited DJ Guy Stevens, who spun the freshest American rhythm and blues. In the second half of the ’60s, Stevens became the first manager of Procol Harum and coined the very name of the band, taking his cat’s nickname as the basis. The famous DJ later produced the London Calling album by The Clash.
As for the bands that played at The Scene, Graham Bond, Zoot Mani, and Georgie Fame were the residents, and sometimes The Animals and The Who played there. The Scene was also used to host the famous Ready Steady Go! TV show and invited the most stylish guests to be extras on the show.
Despite its enormous popularity the club couldn’t be adequately sized: after paying for admission and getting a coveted hand stamp you went down to a surprisingly cramped, low-ceilinged basement with a tiny stage. Along the wall were the lockable booths, which were swung open by police officers during regular raids. Against the opposite wall was a bar, a DJ booth, and benches. The bar only served soft drinks, and according to customer feedback, the coke was terrible.
The club was run by Ronan O’Rahilly. He opened a small studio where he recorded Georgie Fame. O’Rahilly took the record to the BBC, but it turned out that the industry had long been monopolized by the recording titans EMI and Decca. Then in 1964, the enterprising young man founded his own radio station Radio Caroline, broadcasting from aboard the ship without a single license. In 1967 the pirate radio station was officially declared illegal, and in 1966 The Scene club ceased to exist – the first stage in the history of mods was coming to an end.
The Bag O’Nails | 1930s to present day
On a parallel street to Carnaby’s boutiques, Kingly Street, was The Bag O’Nails, more usually known simply as The Bag. The place was run by the famous brothers Rick and John Gunnell. Earlier the institution was called The Pinstripe Club, and it was at this time that John Profumo and Christine Keeler first appeared here together in public.
At the end of 1966, the then little-known guitarist Jimi Hendrix played at the club for the first time. The best musicians of England were present: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Lulu, The Hollies, The Small Faces, Pete Townsend, John Antwill, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Georgie Fame, Donovan, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, who was already familiar with Hendrix and what the genius was capable of. The audience was stunned, and the Record Mirror music newspaper ran the headline, “Mr. Phenomenon.”
As you can see from the guest list, The Bag O’Nails was a very popular place among celebrities – it became a kind of “Who’s Who” guide in the world of British music of the 60s. It was here that Paul McCartney met his future wife Linda at a Georgie Phaim concert on May 15, 1967. The place was rather posh and expensive, so mostly golden youth, bohemians and other cream of progressive capital society had a rest there.
A frequent guest of The Bag O’Nails Paul McCartney chats with a famous society photographer between shots, May 1967.
The 100 Club | 1942 – present day
At 100 Oxford Street was a club with a very logical name. Originally, when it was still called the Feldman Swing Club, leading American jazzmen, including Benny Goodman, and local musicians performed here, and in the mid-60s the 100 Club came into being.
Legend has it that it was here that Beatles Lennon and Harrison first tried LSD. In 1976 the club hosted the first international punk festival: the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and others performed on its stage.
The 100 Club is still open and hosts the longest-running allnighter series in the northern soul world, 6T’s Rhythm and Soul Society, launched by famed mod Randy Cozens in 1979. As of 2015, the parties are now in their 36th year.
Opened in 1968 on famed Piccadilly, Hatchetts Club is housed in an old building built in the early 18th century. Once there was the Hatchetts Hotel and White Horse Cellar bar mentioned in Charles Dickens famous novel “Posthumous Notes of the Pickwick Club”. In the 1960s Hatchetts breathed new life into this decayed historic venue, becoming a landmark on the capital’s nightlife map.
The illuminated, frosted glass dance floor and silver-plated walls were something special for the time, fully reflecting the cutting-edge spirit of the Swinging Era. BBC Radio 1’s popular disc jockey Michael Prescott (aka Emperor Roscoe) was the entertainer, while regular appearances included American soul singer Edwin Starr, British psychedelic rockers Status Quo and Amen Corner, as well as Georgie Feim and former keyboardist and songwriter Alan Price, who began his solo career in ’66.
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were regulars at Hatchett, and The Who drummer Keith Moon and Motörhead founder Lemmy Kilmister often hung out there. Magnificent surroundings, coke atmosphere, far from democratic prices, strict face control and a sea of celebrity guests allowed the club for a long time to remain the embodiment of London’s bohemian life in which talent, fame and fortune were organically combined with drug rage, 24-hour parties and promiscuity of the sexual revolution era.
All roads lead the mods to Soho, and we’re back on Wardor Street again. A few steps away from Flamingo is La Discotheque, different from other clubs in that it positioned itself as London’s first real disco: no bands – just records. The place dates back to the late 50s, when one of the biggest landlords in the city was the infamous Peter Rahman. The word “Rachmanism,” referring to the exploitation and intimidation of tenants by unscrupulous landowners, even made its way into the Oxford dictionary.
Peter Rachman began to expand his “empire” by opening a network of gambling establishments. One of them was a club that opened its doors in 1956, El Condor, which could boast that it was visited even by members of the royal family Edward, the Duke of Kent, and Princess Margaret.
In the early ’60s, the establishment reopened as La Discotheque, retaining the rich decorations of the El Condor. Rahman took Mandy Rees-Davis to the opening. Once at another party Mandy even splashed a cocktail in the face of one of the Kray brothers, the famous gangsters who controlled much of the organized crime activity in London’s East End at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s.
Klooks Kleek | 1961 – 1970
A final mention must be made of an inconspicuous door far from Soho, in northwest London – among those who entered it were The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, The Cream, Jethro Tull, The Yardbirds, Graham Bond, Zoot Mani, Chris Farlow, John Mayall, Georgie Fame and Gino Washington – and the list could go on and on. The club was the brainchild of jazz enthusiast Dick Jordan, who opened it in 1961.At first the place focused on jazz, but with black American music gaining enormous popularity, Jordan set aside Tuesday nights for rhythm and blues.
While the rest of the world was falling ill with Beatlemania, London stayed true to the blues. By the way, literally next door was the office of the Decca record company, which had made the mistake of the century by refusing to sign The Beatles on the grounds that “guitarists are going out of style. As you know, they didn’t make the same mistake twice and got The Rolling Stones, who could be heard live right next door – at Klooks Kleek.
But no less interesting recordings were made in the club itself: The Graham Bond Organization – Live at Klooks Kleek (1964), John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – John Mayall Plays John Mayall (1965), Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band – Live at Klooks Kleek (1966), The Cream – Klooks Kleek ’66 (1966) – these wonderful albums were recorded during live performances in a Victorian living room decorated with rugs and velvet curtains, which did not even have a stage.
There were no special lights, no sound engineers, no soundcheck – the bands just plugged in their equipment and played. The music ranged from Feim’s near-jazz r&b to Mayall’s raw blues, from Gino Washington’s sensuality to Zoot Mani’s madness, blending diverse compositions into a single explosive cocktail.
Graham Bond, who left Blues Incorporated to form his own band, also shone in Klooks Kleek. Unfortunately, it did not last long, as bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker left the band to form with Eric Clapton the legendary The Cream, but this happened not before Graham Bond Organization gained the reputation of the most respected rhythm-and-blues band of that time. In November 1966 The Cream themselves played in Klooks Kleek, and very soon the trio became one of the greatest rock bands in history.