Music history is not only written through the songs but also through the live scenes.
Places where a musician’s appearance can create new musical movements, but also reveal “hidden” talents.
One of these scenes is the “Marquee Club” in London.
With a story that dates back to 1958, when it opened its gates to host a wide range of Jazz, Skiffle, Rock and Metal musicians.
This place was mainly known during the period between 1964 – 1988. It went through many changes especially in terms of location.
It was a very small scene, which, however, revealed exceptional talents and extended the careers of many generations of Rock music.
A scene that managed to mark global recognition for some.
For more than 3 decades, the “Marquee Club” hosted almost every big band we know, in its “tiny” scene.
Many well-known musicians appeared on the stage of “Marquee“, especially in the late 1960s, such as:
- Alexis Korner,
- Cyril Davies,
- Chris Barber,
- the Rolling Stones,
- the Yardbirds,
- Led Zeppelin,
- the Who,
- King Crimson,
- the Syn,
- Mabel Greer’s Toyshop,
- Jethro Tull,
- the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and
It is worth noting that on January 24, 1967, the appearance of Jimi Hendrix broke all world attendance records.
Another band that made regular appearances was the Manish Boys with David Bowie, who first played there in November 1964.
But Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac also made their debut appearance there in 1967.
In 1964, Moody Blues director / producer Alex Murray set up an “amateur” recording studio.
At the back of the stage, in the garage, he produced the classic single “Go Now“, in 1964, which was recorded for the first time.
The development of “Marquee Studios” was largely financed by the profits of this album.
The studio was later used by Elton John, the Groundhogs, Clash and others.
The Rolling Stones returned there on March 26, 1971 after an eight-year break to film a special show.
John Gee, a former accountant, and journalist became the director of the “Marquee Club” during the 1960s.
He was the man Melody Maker described as “the most important place in the history of music”.
During Gee era, Ten Years After wrote the liner notes for their 1967 debut album of the homonym, “Ten Years After”.
Jethro Tull named the B-side of their second single, “A Song For Jeffrey“.
When he left the “Marquee Club“, Jack Barrie, former manager of the bar “La Chasse” in Soho took over.
Although it was recognized as a music scene, it did not manage to obtain a license to sell alcohol until 1970.
It was then that Jack Barrie and Kenny Bell opened a private bar just above the “Marquee Club” at 100 Wardour Street called “La Chasse“.
One of the highlights of “Marquee” was on December 7, 1970, when “The Faces” appeared on stage.
The Queen appeared there three times at the beginning of their careers: on January 8, 1971, on December 20, 1971, and on April 9, 1973.
In 1977, Status Quo took to the stage to perform a huge range of songs, including “Paper Plane” which was filmed live.
David Bowie filmed “The 1980 Floor Show” there as part of NBC’s “The Midnight Special” midnight show.
Although there has never been a venue for Punk music, its stage has hosted several representatives of the genre such as:
- Sex Pistols,
- X Ray Spex,
- the Boys,
- Eddie and the Hot Rods,
- the Stranglers,
- Generation X,
- the Police,
- the Sinceros,
- the early Adam & the Ants,
- the Jam,
- Joy Division,
- the Sound and
The 1980s were a milestone for “Marquee“, as big names of Rock / Metal passed through the stage such as:
- Def Leppard,
- the Babysitters,
- the Quireboys,
- Angel Witch,
- Diamond Head,
- Witchfynde, and
- Praying Mantis.
Iron Maiden played there in 1980 and even filmed their appearance for a 20th Century Box documentary (then presented by Danny Baker).
Metallica made their debut appearance on British soil on March 27, 1984.
In addition to all this, there were some “hidden” appearances that took place there, such as:
- Jam (under the name John’s Boys),
- Marillion (under the name Skyline Drifters and Lufthanser Air Terminal),
- Genesis (under the name Garden Wall),
- Squeeze & Mötley Crüe,
- Metallica gave a “hidden” show in support of Metal Church, who appeared under the name Vertigo & Mike Howe.
In 1988, the fall of the scene begins with continuous relocations to new places, which, however, did not have the glamour of the original.
Shortly before its final closing, Dream Theater recorded their first live album “Live at the Marquee” on April 23, 1993.
The doors close in 1996. Although it reopens in 2002, in a new location, the end was finally scheduled and the curtain falls permanently in 2008.