Memories of the Marquee Club in London

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Memories of the Marquee Club in London

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I was born and raised in Britain and when I was in my mid teens the punk rock era came to life. Needless to say I jumped in with both feet, from the bondage pants to safety pins and of course I saw many bands play live. I think I impressed my kids the most when I they found out I had seen the Sex Pistols live. The image above and artwork shown below is of the late Sid Vicious, the bassist for the band.

The Marquee Club in London was the place to go as it was cheap and was open every night of the week…if my memory serves me right. All the famous bands of today, like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Police, Boom Town Rats, Jethro Tull, Generation X, The Stranglers, The Pretenders, XTC, The Jam, to name but a few, all played there. The changing room in the Marquee was covered in graffiti and looked more like a cell than anything else, but it was the venue to be at when you were just starting out. I remember one night I went there to see The Police and the supporting band, who I had not heard of at that time, was the Boom Town Rats! Who would’ve thought that their lead singer, Bob Geldoff, would become a “Sir”.

The Marquee originated on Oxford Street as a Jazz and skiffle club, but from 1964 – 1988 it’s new location was Wardour St., in Soho and it became a rock and punk club. After that it moved to Charing Cross Road and eventually closed in 1996. Truly defining the end of an era.


4 Comments

Michael

January 12, 2018at 3:07 am

Haha, a bit before my time but I used to frequent a club like this in Cape Town called the “Purple Turtle”
back in the 90s and it too was the place to be seen when you were just starting out! That and another deviant club called “Playgrounds” although sadly Playgrounds closed late 80s Purple Turtle went on to survive into the noughties but its hey day was over before the millenium, also and end to an ‘era’! My favourite venue of all though had to be “The Fringe” which although I never saw live music there was the place to be if you wanted to hear any kind of music you could imagine, they played it! they held themed evenings for every night of the week from modders to rega, ska and dub, goth , pop halloween, you name it they played it! This fantastic nightclub which will forever be etched upon my psyche sadly burnt down in the noughties after the owner fell asleep one night after closing with a cigarette. Luckily no other casulaties other than himself but it was still extremely sad, not just because of his tragic death but because it totally uprooted our little clique we had going! lol! to be young, dumb and full of…

    Pennie McCracken

    January 12, 2018at 8:14 am

    Hey Michael, thank you for sharing all that information. The times have changed a lot, since I was in my teens/early twenties, or maybe it’s just me that has changed. But as you say, it was an end of a great era. I hear that the Purple Turtle is very commercialized and main stream now…..maybe that is why they survived. It is a true shame that the Fringe burn’t down, very sad about the owner’s death too. But I would have liked to have seen how it could have evolved, as I love clubs that are “out there” like that, not afraid to provide entertainment of all genres for everyone to enjoy!

Vanayssa Love

June 9, 2017at 9:41 pm

Love this Pennie. How interesting. I didn’t know any of that. How lucky you were to live near there at that time in history. You must have had so much fun. Was your mother worried?

    Pennie McCracken

    June 11, 2017at 1:48 pm

    Actually I didn’t live near London at that point in time I lived in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. However, in Britain, most major cities are just a train ride away. In fact we missed the last train home that night and could only get back as far as Stevenage and had to get a cab the rest of the way, it was a costly lesson!! My parents weren’t worried because they actually never knew…..but I never got into trouble, serious trouble that is :).

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