• MEMORY LANE... Where it all began

    Behind the existence of the Marquee Club was the unique figure of the club owner and creator, Harold Pendelton.  Pentleton was a young accountant with a passion for jazz music which lead him to becoming a regular in the London jazz circuit during the early 50s. Eventually he quit his job to become the secretary of the National Federation of Jazz Organisations of Great Britain, formed by a committee of musicians, critics, journalists and club proprietors who were trying to regulate the quality of the jazz scene in the city.

    When the Marquee ballrooms started to lose money in 1958, Harold Pendleton was presented with an opportunity to start the new jazz club he had always dreamed of and so the Marquee Club was born.

    In 1963, a new generation of artists started being incorporated to the club’s residency, such as Blues by Six and Big Pete Deuchards Country Blues. In January 1963, a group of young regulars at the club debuted live under the name of the Rollin Stones, who had actually started playing as a support act for different rhythm and blues sessions.

    At the end of 1963,the owners of the Marquee building notified Pendleton about their intentions to remodel the premises giving him six months to relocate the club.

    MEMORY LANE... Wardour Street opens 1964

    In 1964 the club moved a short distance to what became its most famous venue at 90 Wardour Street. 

    The Marquee club had turned into the right spot for igniting a music career and building a name to taking a step up in the new born rock music industry. Many of these bands like Ten Years After, Yes, AC/DC, Genesis, Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep, performed for thousands of people at the Reading Rock Festival showing their gratitude to the club. Other big names such as the Rolling Stones in 1971 and David Bowie in 1973 got back to the club to shoot private sessions for TV.

    The second half of the 70s was also an important time in the history of the Marquee club regarding with the birth of the British punk and new wave scenes, by protagonist bands such as the Clash, the Jam, Ultravox, the Pretenders, the Police, the Cure, Joy Division, Adam and the Ants, The Damned, Generation X, Siouxie and the Banshees, and The Sex Pistols.

    This path was followed during the early 80s by a stellar of new artists such as U2, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins and Erasure. As well as heavy rockers like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Def Leppard, Diamond Head, and AC/DC.

    Due to the constant vibration of thousands of watts at the club during more than 30 years, in 1987 a commission determined that the facade of the building at 90 Wardour Street had slightly slipped ahead towards the pavement, and its demolition was necessary for security reasons. Joe Satriani played on the night of 18th of July 1988 before the Marquee closed its doors for the last time.

    MEMORY LANE...How it used to be

    The premises of the famous Marquee club located at 90 Wardour street occupied two building blocks of the street.  On the large art deco stone arch of this building was the framed window where shows would be announced every week.  On the right side of the window there was a small entrance door and this was the main audience entrance.  By the late 70s a black marquee was placed in the arch with the logo of the club in red letters.

    Stepping inside the door there was a cloakroom and a narrow, long corridor that would take you to the bar on the left.  The capacity of the main room was from 500 to 700 people but the club often hosted up to 1000 on its most successful nights. 

    If there is a memory that springs to the mind of anyone who visited in the old Marquee days, then it will be the collective sweat, the sticky floor covered in chewing gum and the suffocating heat that made Jimi Hendrix guitar go continually out of tune.

    MEMORY LANE...Backstage at the Marquee

    Backstage, the dressing room was a narrow room with two rows of coaches facing each other and no toilet or sink, so the artists would have to go to the audience toilets by the main room in case of any urges. 

    One of the most distinctive trademarks of the club was the graffiti welcomed walls of the dressing room, which was placed in the basement under the stage, hosting the signatures and all sorts of obscene writings written by a long list of artists and visitors for three generations. From the famous 'Pete Towsend's nose is a Rickenbaker on legs' caption to the first Yes logo by the pen of the bands first guitarist Peter Banks.

    Sadly, all this unique collection of modern memorabilia was gone forever with the demolishing of the building. 
    A collection of dressing room and backstage pictures at the Marquee club will be displayed in the gallery of the site.

    MEMORY LANE...Charing Cross Days

    In 1988, the club was relocated to 105-107 Charing Cross and during the last years of the 80s the new version of the Marquee club was once again an important meeting point for the British rock scene. The opening night was on the 16th of August 1988 and featured the celebrated hard rock band Kiss. During the new period of the club the decoration changed considerably.

    The entrance door of the club was crowned with a classical theater marquee and the stage would still show the same background with the Marquee logo. At the new venue the club continued to represent an important part of music history until its closing in 1995. After the Marquee, the clubs Moon Under Water in 2002 and the Montagu Pyke in 2004 were opened in the same location.

    Did you know

    The band with the biggest selling album who played the Marquee were Pink Floyd with their album The Dark Side Of The Moon. They went on to sell well over 50 million copies and it is regarded as a musical masterpiece.

    Did you know

    The first artist to perform at the inauguration of the new Marquee club at 90 Wardour Street on the 13th of February, 1964 were the supporting act theYardbirds. They were followed by Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men and Sonny Boy Williamson.

    Did you know

    The artist who played the most gigs at Marquee Wardour street was Manfred Mann with 102 gigs between 1962 and 1976.

    Did you know

    Did you know that Jimi Hendrix first appearance took the club by storm and broke all the records of attendance attracting 1,400 people.

    Did you know

    The first artist to reach number one in the top charts who performed at the Marquee was the Rolling Stones in July 1964 with the song Its All Over Now.

    Did you know

    One of the few bands to go on to have global success without playing at the Marquee were the Beatles.  Rumor has it that they did visit the Marquee as spectators on the night Jimi Hendrix set his guitar alight and were amazed by his incredible set that night.

    Did you know

    The Reading Festival owes its origins to the Marquee founder Harold Pendleton who established the National Jazz Festival at Reading.  It is the worlds oldest popular music festival still in existence.

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