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Marquee Club, Wardour Street, London

Destroyed - 1988

One of the most important live music venues in London was without doubt the Marquee Club, making it's second home in Wardour Street, right in the heart of London's west end. It was every band's dream to make it to this stage, no matter how famous or amateur they were. And what a happy home it was, a meeting place, and concert venue. Just perfect, and organic. I loved the Marquee, as did most of London's visitors

Marquee Club. Wardour Street. Soho. London. Front entrance

And so, in 1964, Soho developed this site into the world's most famous little concert venue, only (officially) having room for 300 people, but usually bursting with more. For nearly 3 decades, this place would be the breeding ground for most of the pedigree musos that the UK would produce. Not just a gig, but a place to hang out, or maybe just sample the atmosphere and the legacy left by such greats as Clapton, the Who, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Yardbirds, Bowie, Genesis, Iron Maiden, and many more.

Marquee Club. Wardour Street. Soho. London. Marillion on stage 1984

It was a cute living room to mingle with London's musicians and rock music lovers, and I spent many a nice evening there, looking through the windows of the bar area at tonight's entertainment, or maybe just chatting on the sofas, drinking their watered down beer. Actually, I dont miss the beer at all, and can still remember getting many a pint, overpriced, and looking like water! Sometimes, like with the great Iron Maiden, one would be pressed against the stage, nearly falling onto it. Other times, the party was so good, you wouldnt even care who was on stage, but maybe meet them afterwards, congratulating them all the same! This was the essence of a proper club, and not just a loud gig. The Marquee had it all.

Marquee Club. Wardour Street. Newspaper Advert 1968

To get to play the Marquee, even just once, was a major stage on any performers lifetime. It was the justification of all the sacrifice and hard work that any band had put into their art, and it became the genuine platform between doing the pubs and making their way to real stardom. So important it was, that famous acts would return to the Marquee, sometimes under cover, just to reacquaint themselves with a true intimate live music performance.

Sadly, it all ended in 1988, when developers moved in. The Marquee of that era was still entirely relevant, still a showcase to be reckoned with. So they moved the name and the idea to a nearby old music hall, expecting to relive the feeling. It didnt work at all. In fact they keep on trying to open new 'Marquee clubs' to cash in on the name, but they fail again and again. That's the thing about the Marquee in Wardour Street: It was the perfect design for the perfect gig. The idea and groove died with it's destruction. Within time, this plot of land would see the Mezzo restaurant, a posh place for the rich and famous, rise up from the ashes of the old Marquee. There would be no more live music here.

Even now, when the internet and digital music has taken over much of the modern musician's limelight, there seems to be a Marquee missing from the inevitable live music structure. It's the design, you know. It worked. Architecture in motion. What a loss it will always be.

Charles (of London Town)

The London Destruction Website.