Some places are meant for greater things. The Marquee Club is one of them!
In 1958 Harold Pendleton opened the doors to his new club at Oxford Street in London – the Marquee Club was born.
The club started out with a selection of jazz and skiffle artists, but in ’62 expands the repertoire to include rhythm and blues artists as well.
Even though Pendleton doesn’t approve of their music style, Mick Jagger (vocals), Brian Jones (guitar), Keith Richards (guitar), Ian Stewart (piano), Dick Taylor (bass) and Tony Chapman (drums) debuted as the Rollin’ Stones at the Marquee Club on July 12th, 1962.
In March 1964 the Marquee Club moved a short distance, to what became its most famous location, at 90 Wardour Street in Soho.
The club reopens with a concert by The Yardbirds on March 20th, 1964. A concert that is recorded and ends up as the bands live debut album; Five Live Yardbirds.
Things are going well on the new location, and a recording facility is added to the club the same year. It’s here that a new band called The Who records the demo version of My Generation. At the same time, The Who is hired as regulars at the Marquee Club. The 22-week Tuesday-night residency in 1964-65, takes the quartet from obscurity to stardom!
Another regular at the time is David Jones, who appears at the club under a variety of names and constellations, but it’s here on October 8th, 1965, the world first sees him perform under his new stage name David Bowie, along side his band at the time – The Lower Third.
On January 24th, 1967, the que for the Marquee Club stretches down the street, around the corner and all the way down to Cambridge Circus. There’s a new guitar player in town, Jimi Hendrix is his name and he’s only been in London for three months, but the word on the street is spreading fast. Every guitar player in town has heard about the guitar wonder, and in the front row this evening you can find Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Keith Richard and Eric Clapton, among others.
It was also at the Marquee Club, in 1966, that Pink Floyd’s sound went from a R&B repertoire to a psychedelic experience, when they played as regulars at the Sunday happenings called the Spontaneous Underground, where they were playing along to projected movies and crazy light shows. The distinctive flyer for the Spontaneous Underground read; “poets, pop singers, hoods, Americans, homosexuals (because they make up 10% of the population), 20 clowns, jazz musicians, ‘one murderer’, sculptors, politicians and some girls who defy description”.
As the 60’s comes to an end, the 70’s is ready to take over the Marquee Club. Coming soon in part 2 of this magical venues story!
Put a part of music history on your wall – buy the Marquee Club poster in our web shop:
by Dennis Mejdal 2020